In this article, we search for the best verb tense and explain how using one can help strengthen your writing
Most English writers know how to use a grammar checking program to scan their work for grammar errors and inconsistencies, but not all grammar check software include a reliable verb tense checker. For example, the inbuilt free grammar checker with a basic word processor won’t catch instances of the passive voice.
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In English grammar, mastering verb tense is an important part of writing. Whether you choose future tense, past tense or present tense, strong writing employs consistent verb tenses throughout. While there are times, especially in non-fiction writing, where changing verb tenses make sense, consistency, when possible, is key.
So how can you ensure you are making the best use of verb tense in your writing? And what tools should you rely on? A verb tense checker like the ones featured in this guide are a good place to start.
What Is Verb Tense?
Verb tense refers to when the action takes place, and how you conjugate verbs to show that. Verbs come in three primary tenses, and these refer to the conjugation of the verb and when the action takes place. The three tenses are:
- Past – Actions that already happened
- Present – Actions that happen right now
- Future – Actions that will happen later
Within these three primary tenses, writers also have additional conjugations, which are these:
- Simple – The verb without many helping verbs, except for simple future which usually pairs with will.
- Continuous – Uses a form of to be to show the action is ongoing, such as, “I am reading.”
- Perfect – Pairs a form of the verb to be with the simple past tense, such as “I will have read.”
- Perfect Continuous – Pairs to be with been to show continuous action at some point, such as “I will have been reading.”
In your writing, staying consistent with the main three simple tenses, and using conjugations of those tenses, will make your work clearer.
To learn more, check out our list of common verbs.
Why Verb Tense Matters
Verb tense matters in your writing for clarity and consistency. Using the right conjugation of a verb is vital to presenting the correct meaning to your reader. If action happened in the past, but you write it as if it is in the future, your readers will get confused.
Similarly, in most writing verb tense stays consistent throughout. If you’re talking about something that happened in the past, the majority of your writing will use the past tense. Knowing how to identify conjugations is important unless you enjoy embarrassing grammar mistakes.
To learn more, check out our guide to syntax vs semantics.
How To Use a Verbe Tense Checker
With 12 different verb tenses out there, writers can easily get confused. Even with the best proofreading skills, you can have problems slip through and let inconsistencies into your writing. The right grammar checker can help.
A word processor is unlikely to check verb tense, but good grammar check software checks verb tense in addition to basic grammar rules.
Our choices highlight inconsistent use of verbs, so you can determine if you need to edit or revise. Remember, sometimes, writing demands more than one verb tense, but you can use a verb tense checker to highlight inconsistencies, then proofread the work to ensure you’re happy with inconsistencies.
The 5 Best Verb Tense Checkers
Unfortunately, not all grammar checkers check for verb tense inconsistencies, so you need to know which one to use. That said, a best-in-class grammar checker should include these types of checks alongside their additional proofreader and self-editing reports. Here are some recommendations writers of all types can use to check verb tenses for consistency.
Grammarly is one of the most powerful grammar checkers. The free version will check for things like common use and subject/verb agreement, but does little with verb tense.
However, with the paid version, you get a verb tense checker. It’s available via a suite of plugins, apps and extensions for your favourite writing apps and web browsers including Microsft Word and Chrome.
It can help you scan your work for consistency in verb tense use. If you are a serious writer, it is a good tool to add to your toolbox. Basically, it’ll scan for instances of the passive voice and explain when to change to the active voice with context.
Grammarly lets you download an extension for Chrome and other web browsers to add a spell checker and grammar checker to anything you write online. This helps you post only error-free English writing.
Grammarly costs $30 per year. To learn more, check out our Grammarly review
Grammarly is a top spelling, grammar and plagiarism checker. It'll help you find and fix errors fast, and it works everywhere. It's trusted by millions of writers for a reason.
ProWritingAid is another grammar checker tool that has a free and professional version. You can check up to 500 words using the free version. Like Grammarly, it uses artificial intelligence to suggest ways you can improve your pieces. It also works nicely with premium writing apps like Scrivener.
It includes suggestions for consistent verb tense use and flags other grammar mistakes like the split infinitive. ProWritingAid provides style suggestions and for using the active voice. For example, if you wrote:
Johnathan managed to finish his book report on time.
ProWritingAid might suggest you tighten up the writing using a stronger verb tense, saying:
Johnathan completed his book report on time.
This verb tense is cleaner, easier to understand and more direct.
At $70 per year, it’s cheaper than Grammarly. To learn more, check out our ProWritingAid review
ProWritingAid is a powerful, accurate grammar checker and style editor. It's suitable for non-fiction and fiction writers and doesn't require a monthly subscription.
GrammarCheck.me is a simple checker that will scan for some verb tense problems. It’s not as powerful as Grammarly professional, but it is effective at your initial proofreading. It’s also very easy to use.
Simply past your piece into the box and hit check. The program highlights potential problems. Hover over highlighted text to receive suggestions on how to fix the issue.
4. Perfect Tense
As its name implies, Perfect Tense focuses on verb tense as well as other grammar issues. This tool embeds into your text boxes to provide instant suggestions for grammar improvement through powerful artificial intelligence.
Perfect Tense works with plain and rich text editors. It’s also compatible with most major browsers. To use, simply download the app to your computer and start writing.
Price: From Free
Scribens will check everything grammar and punctuation, including verb tense. It scans your English language writing for wordiness, looks for grammatical errors, checks every comma and period and even looks for redundancies. This, like many all-purpose grammar checkers, offers both a free and paid version.
With the free version, you copy and paste your work into the text box on the website, and get suggestions based on common grammar rules. With the paid version, you add an extension to your computer to check grammar as you write.
Why You Can Trust Us
I’ve published several books on writing and contributed to publications like Forbes. I tested these verb tense checkers extensively using blocks of text of approximately 100-200 words in length from a series of non-fiction articles.
I pasted the text into each one of these tools and evaluated the recommendations in terms of accuracy and ease of use. Currently, I use ProWritingAid and Grammarly the most due to speed and accuracy.
I also worked with Nicole to consider which of the many writing tools available today can check your verb tenses. Nicole writes regularly about grammar for this site. Check out her guide to the passive voice.
The Final Word On Verb Tense Checkers
Nothing can replace proofreading when it comes to checking your writing. Even if you like writing in Microsoft Word, a good verb tense checker can help you proofread and self-edit more effectively.
Learn your conjugations and verb tenses, then utilize helpful these selections as part of your workflow. This will help you create strong, clear writing that will appeal to your readers and convey your message appropriately.
In short: check your verb tenses with a grammar checker like Grammarly or ProWritingAid.
FAQs About Verb Tense Checker
How is a verb tense checker different from a grammar checker?
A verb tense checker is a type of grammar checker tool that checks for verb conjugation. Most verb tense checkers will also check for spelling and grammar problems. Often powerful and professional grammar checkers include verb tense checkers as a report.
When should I use a verb tense checker?
Using a verb tense checker with every piece of writing you produce will help you write more clearly. Many checkers offer apps or extensions you can download to check your work in a word processor or while publishing online.
These extensions and tools it easy to utilize a verb tense checker and improve your English writing. They also check for comma and other punctuation errors, spelling issues and other common grammar mistakes.
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