Tense, voice, person, word meaning

Tense, voice, person

  • In Introduction
  • Use mostly present or present perfect tense, and active voice, except when describing previous findings/studies

[48] Areas of frequent chromosomal loss have recently been identified in the head and neck cancer.

  • Use the first person pronoun we to show the cooperative effort by your group members and you.

[49] In this study, we used both agglomerative hierarchical clustering method and Heatmap …

[50] Though the elementary work we conducted may not be satisfactory in the research aspect, … we believe we could get further results …


  • In Methodology
  • Use particularly past tense for describing the methodological procedures done for the project study

[51] We used agglomerative hierarchical clustering for …

  • Use active voice and mostly third person pronouns it/they following the corresponding noun phrases, except when stating what your group does/has do


  • In Data analysis/Findings and Results
  • Use present tense for describing graphic information
  • Use past tense for describing original findings

[53] We found that patient HN116 had the genes that …

  • Use mostly third person pronouns it/they following the corresponding noun phrases, while avoiding the excessive use of the first person pronoun we
  • Use passive voice

[54] It can be seen clearly that …


  • In Discussion
  • Use mostly present tense, active voice, third person pronouns it/they following the corresponding noun phrases e.g. the box plots, and the first person pronoun we


  • In Conclusion
  • For findings and analytical procedures: past tense, present perfect tense
  • For limitations of the current study: past tense
  • For expectations and implications for future potential works/studies: present tense, future tense
  • Use active voice and the first person pronoun we


Word meaning

Beware of the following common errors on word meaning:

[55] Latter in this report …

ü Later in this report …

[56] The following part/section will talk about …

ü The following part/section will be about …


About this website

This website has been developed as part of the UGC funded project, "Supporting and developing students’ English literacy practices in the disciplines” which is funded by the University Grants Committee’s Competitive Funding Scheme on Teaching and Learning for the 2012-2015 triennium. This inter-institutional literacy project aims to examine the provision of English literacy across three broad disciplines in Hong Kong tertiary institutes, namely Social Science, Science and Engineering in the participating institutions that include the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, City University of Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Baptist University. The website consists of a comprehensive support system to help provide a stimulating learning environment for students, content and language teachers. It also aims to help teachers become conversant with disciplinary genres and the linguistic and pedagogical resources suitable in a second language learning environment. The resources on this website will be open to and shared by all tertiary institutions in Hong Kong and beyond.