Brenda Maddox

What’s Passed is Past


‘’Twas the night before Christmas’. ‘In the beginning was the Word.’ What’s wrong with the simple past tense? While I am tolerant of most of the irritants that drive Radio 4 listeners mad (‘secketary’, ‘the media is’), I explode every time I hear the present tense used for things past. Whenever I catch phrases like ‘Churchill has to decide…’, I scream: ‘He doesn’t have to decide anything! He’s dead!’

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter