How to write a personal diary ? [which tense?]

Discussion in 'English Only' started by gachette71, Sep 18, 2008.

  1. gachette71 Senior Member

    Belgium - French
    Good afternoon all.

    Imagine I want to write a personal diary. Which tense should I use ? The simple present, the present perfect, or the simple past ?

    I'd like to relate what happened on that day, so I would be writing at the end of each day.

    Or maybe I could use all those three tenses ? Please help me ! I really need your help.
  2. bibliolept

    bibliolept Senior Member

    Northern California
    AE, Español
    I think the simple past is the traditional. That's what most diary-style blogs use as well. That said, anyone can choose to write their diary in whatever style they prefer, of course.
  3. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    Another Country
    English English
    I write mine in whatever tense is most appropriate for whatever I happen to be writing about. Having said that, it's generally in the simple past because I write it the day after.
  4. gachette71 Senior Member

    Belgium - French
    And what if you want to write it at the end of the day ? Would you use the simple past or the present perfect simple (today) ?
  5. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    Another Country
    English English
    I'd use the past simple unless I was talking about an ongoing activity, in which case I'd use the present perfect progressive:
    This morning I went to Marks & Spencer. Wow, that was exciting. Otherwise, I've been painting again all day, just like every day.
  6. bibliolept

    bibliolept Senior Member

    Northern California
    AE, Español
    Doubleplusgood point.
  7. gachette71 Senior Member

    Belgium - French
    And - last question - what about the simple present ? I know you can use it to tell a story, but what about a diary ?
  8. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    Another Country
    English English
    Blog ≠ diary, in the opinion of this diary-writer who grew up before the age when everyone thought everyone else might be interested in their humdrum lives.
  9. bibliolept

    bibliolept Senior Member

    Northern California
    AE, Español
    If you will be telling stories, then there's no reason not to employ the simple present.
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2008
  10. gachette71 Senior Member

    Belgium - French
    Ok, thank you very much all of you !
  11. suzi br

    suzi br Senior Member

    English / England
    Oi, I happen to know that lots of people ARE interested in my blog! LOL

    I never use the present tense in it, though, unless for some mildly comic effect of showing the story in a lively way. Which is not unusual in first person narratives of various sorts.
  12. Forero Senior Member

    Houston, Texas, USA
    USA English
    Anne Frank used all the tenses in her diary. It is now world famous, but she was writing it for herself. Yes, it was in Dutch, but the languages are similar enough as far as tense usage.

    Of course, in your diary, you can use, or decline to use, any tense whatever.
  13. Ainur

    Ainur Member

    In my country the teachers of the English language asked us to mind the sequence of tenses, whenever we tried to write or talk to each other.
    Is it so important?
    Very often the native speakers use simple tenses in speech and maybe in writing. Am I right?
  14. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    It depends. Some of us (think we) use tenses correctly and appropriately, even in diaries. Others don't.
    I think it's important.
    And perhaps like many other aspects of English, it is important to be able to do it correctly and formally - first.

    In my diary I wouldn't use the narrative present/present continuous, but if I were abstracting from the diary for a wider readership I might well do. Similarly, if I were a blogger I'm sure I would write the more colourful narratives in this way.
  15. Diary Entry has been done in simple past and 1st person and will be done in the same and no Tom, Dick and harry can change this and make the noble language a creepy and sluggering langauge.

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