Blogger Questions #14 | Is There A Proper Verb Tense To Use When Writing Reviews?

Blogger QuestionsHappy Hump Day, loves! Being the absolute genius that I am, I accidentally left my laptop at a friend’s house for a few days, and was unable to write up any posts. I’ve thankfully retrieved my precious device, and am hoping to post consistently once more! I’m aware that I mention how I’ll mend my posting routine each week, but I truly intend to this time around. If not, you all may hold it against me. Lately, I’ve been quite hypercritical of my own reviews, and have been scrutinizing each and every detail about them. From doing this, I’ve began to wonder if there is a proper verb tense to use when writing reviews.

Do Writing Styles Affect The Quality of Reviews?

Although I’m typically quite proud of the content I post, I’m always self-conscious of my writing style – particularly, when I’m writing reviews. There are so many phenomenal bloggers out there who write beautiful reviews that I can’t help but feel as though mine will never measure up to theirs. This train of thought is awfully silly, but I’m a perfectionist, and it’s tedious for me to feel comfortable with my writing when I know how much room for improvement I have. As far as writing styles and the quality of reviews are concerned, I do think there is a certain correlation between how well-written a review is, and its respective quality. I simply believe that if a reviewer pours a decent amount of effort into his/her review, it’ll show.

Is There A Proper Verb Tense To Use When Writing Reviews?

I am a perfectionist. Yet, I don’t recall paying heed to the verb tense I would use when writing reviews, until recently. You can imagine my horror when I realized how often I would switch tenses, and how choppy and amateur the writing felt. Naturally, I’ve been obsessed with trying to uncover the proper writing recipe ever since. I’ve been analyzing many different reviewers’ writing styles, and it amazes me how unique and diverse every writer’s voice is. There’s a plethora of ways to write reviews and share our thoughts about books, but I was wondering if there is a “right” verb tense to use when discussing books. What tenses do you use and in what style do you write your reviews? I have no clue if it’s correct or not, but I tend to now write my reviews like this:

Present tense when referring to characters and actions in the story

Example: Amani is a dreamer. She dreams of what life was like before the occupation; she dreams of writing poetry like the old-world poems she adores; she dreams of receiving a sign from Dihya that one day, she, too, will have adventure, and travel beyond her isolated moon.

Present tense when referring to anything the author writes

Example: Somaiya Daud brings to life a beautifully tragic world. Through her novel, she accurately depicts how many diverse forms loneliness can take hold in.

Past tense when referring to your thoughts

Example: These messages are wonderfully infused in the writing, and made me fall even more in love with the story. I thought that the way Daud shows the importance of friendship and need for love through her characters, creates an incredible dynamic between them.

Present OR Past tense when referring to the book’s actions. I personally tend to favor present tense a bit more, but the most important rule to remember is to remain consistent.

Example: This book seamlessly shows (OR “showed”) how two wholly different people can look beyond what’s merely on the surface.

Thanks for reading, dolls! That’s all for now! Do you think writing styles affect the quality of reviews? Is there a proper verb tense to use when writing reviews? How do you write your reviews? Let me know in the comments!kelly (3).pngInstagram | Twitter | Goodreads | Bloglovin


50 thoughts on “Blogger Questions #14 | Is There A Proper Verb Tense To Use When Writing Reviews?

  1. It’s standard practice to use present tense when discussing a literary work, so I agree with you. ;b But I sometimes accidentally switch tenses when writing and I have to go back and edit. And I also would refer to my own experience reading in the past tense since, well, it happened in the past. Look at me, I’m so eloquent right now. XD

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I honestly didn’t think about my verb tense two much until a couple of months ago and wondered if I was being consistent (I’ve been blogging for 5 years :P). I always went with my lessons from English class and used the Present Tense for anything that happens in the book (like you said). But I feel like I switch tenses when I’m talking about my feelings–so that’s something I’m going to be more aware of going forward.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I also used to switch tenses throughout my reviews! I used to get self-conscious about my writing style with reviews, but now it’s discussion posts! Personally, I pay more attention to the format of bloggers’ reviews than their writing style. Whether it be paragraphs, bullet points, etc, I like my reviews in any format! It’s only when there are huge blocks of text, no negative space, or no book summary that my attention wavers.

    Great post Kelly! I’m definitely going to check my reviews out and see what tense I’m using!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is super helpful. I switch tenses a lot as well. It seems writing is like flexing muscle. The more one writes, the better it gets. Thanks for sharing these tips. ☺

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Good question!
    I don’t actually know which one i use. I think when we talk about the book either could be correct. We are not discussing real events that happened in the past, but since we are reflecting back on them, past tense isn’t wrong.

    When i talk about my thoughts, I’m fairly positive i use past, since i read the book in the past

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This is such a great post! I tend to use present tense when discussing the book’s plot and characters but past tense when explaining my thoughts while I was reading it. However, I usually add a sentence or two about how I feel upon reflection which is in present tense. It’s so interesting to see how we all have a different review writing style!


  7. I use present tense to discuss the text because that’s what you do in academia. It’s basically due to a philosophical idea that the text is always speaking to you. So I use present tense both to summarize and analyze the book.

    And then I use past tense to describe my reactions while reading the book: “I was bored by page 10.” But I use present tense if I’m saying something about my reaction that is still true: “I think Anna is a great role model.”

    I think these are the tenses I would “expect” while reading a review, but I also agree that consistency is important. If someone summarized in past tense, I might not think much of it, as long as they didn’t switch to present tense.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I love this series of blogger questions, they’re so helpful to read! I’ve noticed before that I switch between tenses but I’ve never really analysed it – I usually just write what sounds right to me. I had a read through some of my reviews and noticed I usually write my introductions entirely in past tense (not sure why – it’s kind of bugging me now I’ve noticed!), then write about the book contents in present tense and my thoughts in past tense.


  9. Kelly you are awesome… you always write posts that I didn’t know I needed to read 😊😊😊 I always mix up my tenses while writing reviews and never know what’s the right way… I might keep your ideas in mind next time… Wonderful post 👍👍


  10. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately too! This post is genius. I even ordered some books to just improve my writing skills in general because I feel they’re lacking. This is a quick reminder of how to do it though!


  11. I favor present tense when it comes to the book’s actions too – I feel like it sounds the best and makes the most sense. I don’t really know how to describe this theory though, haha.

    I think that, since you’re typically writing a review for others who have yet to read the book, writing in present tense is a way of saying, “this is what’s to come in the book for you”. Writing in past tense makes it sound like “this is what happened, this is what you missed”. Present tense sounds more inviting for the reader, and usually makes me, at least, more inclined to read the book.


  12. It’s funny. I don’t think I’ve ever thought about it like this. I’d probably be really put off with myself if I went back and looked at how I use tenses. I honestly try to keep just as if I was talking to a friend face to face about a book or a movie. I definitely don’t think there’s any right or wrong way 🙂


  13. First, I’m so glad you got your laptop back! I missed seeing you on here! ❤ Second, great discussion (as always). I think I tend to write my reviews just like you described, as far as using those specific tenses for specific pieces of the review, but I haven't really analyzed one of my reviews in a while. I used to constantly obsess over my reviews and edit them to death because I thought they were awful. I now have a rule: I write the review, proofread and shorten it (I'm so wordy!!) as much as possible, post it, and then do my best to literally never reread it unless I reread the book and need to update my thoughts, or time passes and makes me realize I missed something. Seriously, otherwise, I will just change them over and over again! For what it's worth, I think your reviews are amazing and you have NOTHING to worry about!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so happy to be back as well! *hugs* ❤

      I honestly have reread only a handful of my reviews before. I used to not even proofread them before publishing – oof! The horror! Now, I will *usually* read them once through, and try to catch any errors in them.

      AWW thank you, doll! That means so much to me, especially coming from you because you are the review QUEEN!! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Awww you are so sweet, I swear. ❤ ❤ And I feel you on not proofreading before, lol! I used to not always proofread mine, and what made me start making sure to ALWAYS proofread is that, a few months ago, I was looking at an older review of mine and I had forgotten a word in a quote from the book – I don't even remember what book it was, but I remember it had changed the meaning of the whole quote, and I was like, WHOOPS! So now I'm more picky about it lol!

        Liked by 1 person

  14. Awesome post, Kelly! Since I started writing professional reviews for a book review magazine, my review style has transformed immensely in terms of vocabulary, tense and what aspects of a book I think are worth discussing. Many of the guidelines that I have to follow for the magazine I write for are now becoming habit which is really important to me. I do think consistency is critical and reinforces one’s voice and makes them recognizable.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Another great post, Kelly! It is interesting you ask this because I have thought about this a lot lately while writing my reviews, and I think I have grown to use the present tense a lot more than I used to!
    I think it depends on your style, but consistency is very important. For example, my reviews are long and in-depth and I need to make sure inconsistencies don’t creep in to my writing, so this post will definitely encourage me to check my tenses more!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Stephen! 🙂

      I started using the present tense much more often as well. I used to mainly incorporate past tense, but it was inconsistent and had some present tense in it as well. Haha.

      I’m glad this post helps you a little!!! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  16. Great post, Kelly!
    I can relate to feeling self-conscious about the reviews that I write. I always feel inadequate when reading others reviews.
    Yours are always on point!
    As far as verb tense, I gravitate towards the past tense.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. I use past tense for everything because the whole review I write is my thoughts, how I felt about characters, how they were in book and what was the world building or whatever. Basically it’s my thoughts so I keep it same. I have seen reviewers using different tense based on the style they use. So I guess it hugely depends on style and how you want to present it.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Oh my goodness! This post is perfect. I don’t pay too much attention to what verb tense I use because I try to focus on my voice. I want my reviews to sound like me. However, I rjust read one of my past reviews and I use present tense to describe the characters, plot, writing, themes, etc. I use past tense for my thoughts.

    Liked by 1 person

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