One of the more common errors students make in writing is shifting from one form to another in the middle of a sentence. Whether this shift is in person, number, subject, voice, or tense, this can be confusing for readers.
|Type of Shift||Explanation||Example|
|Person||Person refers to the point of view. A writer might write in first person (I/we), second person (you), or third person (he, she, it, they). It’s important to keep the person consistent.||Incorrect: When a writer edits his work, you should be sure to check spelling errors. (shift from 3rd to 2nd person)|
|Number||Number refers to whether something is singular or plural. If a sentence starts out singular, it should not shift to plural mid-stream.||Incorrect: A student should always revise their work. (shift from singular to plural)|
|Subject||The subject here is the subject of the sentence. In a compound sentence, and even in a paragraph, it’s important to be consistent with the subject to avoid confusion.||Incorrect: Students look forward to graduation, but people don’t always enjoy graduation. (shift from students to people)|
|Voice||Voice refers to active or passive voice. With rare exceptions, all parts of a sentence should maintain the same voice.||Incorrect: Most students expect to graduate, but challenges should be expected. (shift from active to passive)|
|Tense||Tense refers to the tense of the verb, i.e. past, present, future. The tense should not change in a sentence.||Incorrect: When the class began, students are working hard. (shift from past to present tense)|
Content created by Dr. Karen Palmer and licensed under CC BY NC SA.