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Hello,

I wrote this story and I've been told that it had some verb tenses wrong. I did my best to try and correct them all, but if someone can find more, please point them out for me. You don't need to correct them (though you can if you wish), just help me find them and I'll try to see what I did wrong myself. Thank you, and I hope you enjoy the story.


Jennifer wondered if her predecessors felt the same way as they began pioneering in the solar system. But they couldn't have; compared to where she’s going, they were just taking the stroll in the backyard. She is out to conquer the rest of the universe by crossing the ultimate boundary – the speed of light.

Mark, her second in command was being unnervingly quiet, responding only with a simple "yes" or "no." Perhaps it was better this way. Now is the time for action, not words.

She checked their course for the umpteenth time only to find that they are following the designated route perfectly. Their speed was approaching the threshold as predicted, engines were showing green, with energy levels barely having dropped. She looked at Mark who, like herself, didn't seem busy. He looked back and winked, smiling, thoroughly calm.

They were approaching the Oort cloud now, the least known of the asteroid reservoirs, so Jennifer checked for any stray rocks that may be blocking their path out of the system. A hundred billion kilometers of potential danger and right now nothing was close enough to even demand a course modification. She sighed thinking how this is looking to be the least eventful pioneering journey in the history of mankind.

After a long while, they were finally out of the cloud. They were now farthest away from home than man had ever been. Finally, they were reaching threshold, mere seconds to it.

"Status?" She enquired.

"All systems are a go."

Dimly hearing the countdown to threshold, she simply waited for her cue. It seemed funny how all the power needed to send mankind another huge step closer to the stars was only a push of a button away.

"Threshold reached. Ignition," said the computerized voice that was speaking the countdown.

Casually, Jennifer pushed the button. The engines responded in a muffled wobbling sound. She had half-expected inertia to throw her against the back of her chair, despite what they had told her would happen. The ship had accelerated beyond the speed of light. They had taught her since she was little that nothing can travel faster than light; it was a fantasy of every explorer of the solar system, yet they were all resignedly submissive to the teachings. Today, mere seconds ago, the myth was broken.

"I can see it in your eyes, Captain Jennifer Fairweather; this feeling you are having would be described by many as a powerful spiritual experience," Mark said.

"Indeed," she responded. "Aren't you feeling the same?"

"Unfortunately, I wasn't programmed to have such experiences."

"Excuse me?" Jennifer asked, thinking she had misheard.

"We have important matters of protocol to discuss."

"What protocol?" She wasn't aware that there was anything in the protocol beyond seeing that the ship was safely turned around and returned home. She had never seen Mark act so strange.

"I am confusing you; I apologize. Please, give me a moment to explain." He said and immediately continued in an even tone, "You know me as Mark Morgan. This is my human name. I am not human; I am what your language would most closely describe as a cybernetic automaton, or an automaton capable of self-governance – a special type of robot, if you will. We call ourselves cyberton."

Detecting a hint of fear in Jennifer's eyes, he quickly proceeded, "Do not be afraid, Jennifer. This mission will proceed as planned and nobody will be put in danger. If you feel like I have lied to you, I apologize. We have learned the hard way that this is the only way to bring this matter to the attention of humanity in this timeline."

"Timeline?" Confused, Jennifer was having trouble deciding whether to fear Mark yet, hit him on the head with something heavy, or just listen to this fantastic story until, hopefully, he comes back to his senses.

"Yes. This is the second known timeline to exist since humanity had first appeared. Cybertons were created by humans in the first timeline. Eventually, as the universe grew older, and humanity became aware of the impending heat death, we were tasked with the recreation of the human race in the second timeline. For now it suffices to say that humans knowingly brought about the end of the first timeline to prevent heat death. Our mainframes were the only artifacts left from the previous timeline. We waited for the emergence of a suitable planet to repeat the evolution of the human species and you are our third attempt. The first two were a failure and we were forced to fall back to a backup algorithm for our introduction. This algorithm is now executing."

She didn't quite know what to think. Mark had always been the most reasonable person she knew. Proclaiming him insane now seemed to contradict everything she knew about him and yet his story screamed otherwise.

"I beg of you, Mark," she said, still refusing to believe that he's lost his mind, "show me some evidence of this."

"It is at the end of our route. We planned it pretending we are going to orbit a rogue planet. In reality, we will enter orbit of one of our mainframes as we drop to sub-light velocities. It is a majestic structure. It is also a vast database of knowledge held by an entire human civilization spanning millions of galaxies in the former timeline over hundreds of eons. Can you even begin to imagine the enormity of that? Traveling above the speeds of light enables you to reach out in this universe and learn about it all over again. But this time we are here, already holding all the knowledge, offering it to anyone who wishes to have it."

The ship dropped back below threshold. Mark used the console to activate the camera on the ship's bow. The screen showed a massive superstructure ahead.

"And once you have it," he continued, "there is no knowing where human ingenuity will take you again."
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Comments  
Hi,

See the red.

Clive

Jennifer wondered if her predecessors felt the same way as they began pioneering in the solar system. But they couldn't have; compared to where she’s going, they were just taking the stroll in the backyard. She is out to conquer the rest of the universe by crossing the ultimate boundary – the speed of light.

Mark, her second in command was being unnervingly quiet, responding only with a simple "yes" or "no." Perhaps it was better this way. Now is the time for action, not words.

She checked their course for the umpteenth time only to find that they are following the designated route perfectly. Their speed was approaching the threshold as predicted, engines were showing green, with energy levels barely having dropped. She looked at Mark who, like herself, didn't seem busy. He looked back and winked, smiling, thoroughly calm.

They were approaching the Oort cloud now, the least known of the asteroid reservoirs, so Jennifer checked for any stray rocks that may be blocking their path out of the system. A hundred billion kilometers of potential danger and right now nothing was close enough to even demand a course modification. She sighed thinking how this is looking to be the least eventful pioneering journey in the history of mankind.

After a long while, they were finally out of the cloud. They were now farthest away from home than man had ever been. Finally, they were reaching threshold, mere seconds to it.

"Status?" She enquired.

"All systems are a go."

Dimly hearing the countdown to threshold, she simply waited for her cue. It seemed funny how all the power needed to send mankind another huge step closer to the stars was only a push of a button away.

"Threshold reached. Ignition," said the computerized voice that was speaking the countdown.

Casually, Jennifer pushed the button. The engines responded in a muffled wobbling sound. She had half-expected inertia to throw her against the back of her chair, despite what they had told her would happen. The ship had accelerated beyond the speed of light. They had taught her since she was little that nothing can travel faster than light; it was a fantasy of every explorer of the solar system, yet they were all resignedly submissive to the teachings. Today, mere seconds ago, the myth was broken.

"I can see it in your eyes, Captain Jennifer Fairweather; this feeling you are having would be described by many as a powerful spiritual experience," Mark said.

"Indeed," she responded. "Aren't you feeling the same?"

"Unfortunately, I wasn't programmed to have such experiences."

"Excuse me?" Jennifer asked, thinking she had misheard.

"We have important matters of protocol to discuss."

"What protocol?" She wasn't aware that there was anything in the protocol beyond seeing that the ship was safely turned around and returned home. She had never seen Mark act so strange.

"I am confusing you; I apologize. Please, give me a moment to explain." He said and immediately continued in an even tone, "You know me as Mark Morgan. This is my human name. I am not human; I am what your language would most closely describe as a cybernetic automaton, or an automaton capable of self-governance – a special type of robot, if you will. We call ourselves cyberton."

Detecting a hint of fear in Jennifer's eyes, he quickly proceeded, "Do not be afraid, Jennifer. This mission will proceed as planned and nobody will be put in danger. If you feel like I have lied to you, I apologize. We have learned the hard way that this is the only way to bring this matter to the attention of humanity in this timeline."

"Timeline?" Confused, Jennifer was having trouble deciding whether to fear Mark yet, hit him on the head with something heavy, or just listen to this fantastic story until, hopefully, he comes back to his senses.

"Yes. This is the second known timeline to exist since humanity had first appeared. Cybertons were created by humans in the first timeline. Eventually, as the universe grew older, and humanity became aware of the impending heat death, we were tasked with the recreation of the human race in the second timeline. For now it suffices to say that humans knowingly brought about the end of the first timeline to prevent heat death. Our mainframes were the only artifacts left from the previous timeline. We waited for the emergence of a suitable planet to repeat the evolution of the human species and you are our third attempt. The first two were a failure and we were forced to fall back to a backup algorithm for our introduction. This algorithm is now executing."

She didn't quite know what to think. Mark had always been the most reasonable person she knew. Proclaiming him insane now seemed to contradict everything she knew about him and yet his story screamed otherwise.

"I beg of you, Mark," she said, still refusing to believe that he's lost his mind, "show me some evidence of this."

"It is at the end of our route. We planned it pretending we are going to orbit a rogue planet. In reality, we will enter orbit of one of our mainframes as we drop to sub-light velocities. It is a majestic structure. It is also a vast database of knowledge held by an entire human civilization spanning millions of galaxies in the former timeline over hundreds of eons. Can you even begin to imagine the enormity of that? Traveling above the speeds of light enables you to reach out in this universe and learn about it all over again. But this time we are here, already holding all the knowledge, offering it to anyone who wishes to have it."

The ship dropped back below threshold. Mark used the console to activate the camera on the ship's bow. The screen showed a massive superstructure ahead.

"And once you have it," he continued, "there is no knowing where human ingenuity will take you again."
"began pioneering IN the solar system" - sounds clunky to me, perhaps say "started exploring the solar system" or "began their pioneering work in the solar system". I'm not sure about this.

"Mark, her second in command was being ..." - should have another comma after "command"; a pause is needed on BOTH sides of the parenthetical "her second in command".

"She checked their course ... to find that they ARE following" - verb tense - should be WERE. Your narrative is all written in past tense (as it should be), and ARE is present tense.

"speed was approaching the threshold as predicted, engines were showing green, with energy ..." - should have AND before ENGINES, or rephrase the "with energy..." part.

"stray rocks that MAY BE blocking" - should be past tense, e.g. MIGHT HAVE BEEN

"She sighed thinking how ..." - should have a comma after SIGHED

"... this IS LOOKING TO BE the least eventful ..." - should be WAS instead of IS; also "looking to be" is informal; you could say "this was LOOKING LIKE the least eventful ..." or "this was LOOKING LIKE BEING the least eventful ..." but making it grammatically perfect would make it very clumsy; maybe you should restructure the whole sentence.

"now FARTHEST away from home THAN man had ever been" - should be FARTHER or FURTHER (a comparative) to go with THAN

"mere seconds to it" - If you mean there were just a few seconds before they reached threshold, I'd say "there were just seconds to go" or something like that

"All systems are a go." - normally said without the A

"The engines responded IN a muffled wobbling sound" - IN should be WITH

"She had half-expected" - no hyphen

"it was A fantasy of every explorer" - I'd probably use THE instead of A to make it read more smoothly although that's not exactly what you mean to say.

The next paragraph is good.

"he quickly proceeded" - I suggest "he quickly continued"

"feel LIKE I have lied to you" - feel THAT I have

"hopefully, he COMES back to his senses" - verb tense, should be CAME. Also, "hopefully" in that sense is a disputed usage, just to warn you

"Yes. This is the second ..." - suggest "Yes," Mark explained, "This is the second ..."

"second known timeline to exist" - avoid splitting "known to exist" by inserting "timeline" there; I would swap KNOWN and TIMELINE.

"humanity HAD first appeared" doesn't sound right; I'd remove HAD completely.

"waited for the EMERGENCE of a suitable planet" - suggest DISCOVERY

"first two were A FAILURE" - "first two were FAILURES"

"SHE didn't quite know what to think" - suggest JENNIFER. Sure, it's obvious who SHE means, but HE has been talking for a while, so I would restate her name here.

"... about him and yet his story SCREAMED OTHERWISE" - clumsy wording; also add a comma between HIM and AND, and probably remove the AND

"refusing to believe that HE'S lost his mind" - verb tense, should be HE HAD

"pretending we ARE going to orbit" - verb tense; suggest "pretending we WOULD orbit"

"we will ENTER ORBIT of one of our mainframes" - ENTER THE ORBIT

"enormity" has a specific meaning, one you don't intend to use. Suggest VASTNESS or similar.

"traveling above the SPEEDS of light" - SPEED

"enables YOU to reach out" - suggest US or ONE

Please don't be discouraged by all my suggestions. I quite like your story :-)
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Hello, Clive.

Thank you for taking the time to help, but I have to admit this has me a bit confused. I assume that these should be in past simple/continuous, but for the life of me I can't see why (therefore, I could be wrong). Does this have something to do with the fact I'm narrating, or is it because most of the story is being narrated as if it happened in the past, or something else entirely?

Thanks again,

Nikola
Hello, KrisBlue!

Thanks for the corrections and suggestions. I have some comments, though.

"began pioneering IN the solar system" - sounds clunky to me, perhaps say "started exploring the solar system" or "began their pioneering work in the solar system". I'm not sure about this.
"To explore" has too broad a meaning to use here. My intention is to make it clear that I'm referring to first (pioneering) voyages inside (hence the "in") the solar system. We are exploring the solar system today with our telescopes and satellites. I agree, though, that this could use some rewording.

"... this IS LOOKING TO BE the least eventful ..." - should be WAS instead of IS; also "looking to be" is informal
By "informal" you mean non-standard English?

"now FARTHEST away from home THAN man had ever been" - should be FARTHER or FURTHER (a comparative) to go with THAN
What if I just remove "than"?

"it was A fantasy of every explorer" - I'd probably use THE instead of A to make it read more smoothly although that's not exactly what you mean to say.
It can easily be said to be "the" fantasy of every explorer, but I don't understand how that makes it read more smoothly (then again, I'm not a native speaker so...) Emotion: smile

"feel LIKE I have lied to you" - feel THAT I have
Is this the usual thing to say this, or is this some special case? In my language we usually say that we feel "like" something, or we feel "as if" something, unless we specifically name the feeling.

"humanity HAD first appeared" doesn't sound right; I'd remove HAD completely.
Actually, this might be a bit tricky to explain, but I used past perfect for a reason here. Simply put, there was the first timeline which then ended, and now we're in the second timeline. Humans had evolved (long) before the end of the first timeline, hence the past perfect. Of course, (again) I'm not a native speaker, but I'd like to know the specific reason why past perfect would be incorrect here.

"waited for the EMERGENCE of a suitable planet" - suggest DISCOVERY
Here again for the sake of the story I'd argue for "emergence" rather than "discovery". The mainframe was around since the beginning of the universe in the second timeline. Back then there were no planets - the cybertons had to wait for them to form. This is why I used "emerge".

"we will ENTER ORBIT of one of our mainframes" - ENTER THE ORBIT
I noticed that this is one of the mistakes that keeps popping up in my writing. I usually don't write the wrong article, but instead I leave it out entirely. The Google search mainly shows tutorials on when to use which. Are there any tutorials/rules about when to use articles at all?

Please don't be discouraged by all my suggestions.
Not at all! I welcome suggestions such as these because I can use them to improve my writing. Maybe I should be the one to apologize now, for being so stubborn about leaving some things as I originally wrote them. Emotion: smile

I quite like your story :-)
Thank you!

Nikola
Hi,

Thank you for taking the time to help, but I have to admit this has me a bit confused. I assume that these should be in past simple/continuous, but for the life of me I can't see why (therefore, I could be wrong). Does this have something to do with the fact I'm narrating, or is it because most of the story is being narrated as if it happened in the past, or something else entirely?

Yes, you are telling us about the past.

eg . . . to where she was going . . .

eg Now was the time for action, not words.

Clive
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Hello, Clive.

Yes, I see what I did wrong there. I've been sending my narrator back through time to the moment when the story was actually happening at times when he was describing actions that were happenning concurrently with an action he had already mentioned. Hence his switching to present tenses. Not sure why I do that.

Thanks for the help,

Nikola
Nikola Novak
KrisBlueNZ"began pioneering IN the solar system" - sounds clunky to me, perhaps say "started exploring the solar system" or "began their pioneering work in the solar system". I'm not sure about this.
"To explore" has too broad a meaning to use here. My intention is to make it clear that I'm referring to first (pioneering) voyages inside (hence the "in") the solar system. We are exploring the solar system today with our telescopes and satellites. I agree, though, that this could use some rewording.
I get your point, but "began pioneering in the solar system" doesn't sound right. You could emphasise the pioneering aspect by using "FIRST started exploring the solar system" or "started the EARLIEST exploration of the solar system". Pioneering doesn't necessarily mean exploring, it means making the earliest investigations into something. I do think that EXPLORING is more suitable, with some way to emphasise that it was the earliest, first, or initial explorations.
Nikola Novak
KrisBlueNZ"... this IS LOOKING TO BE the least eventful ..." - should be WAS instead of IS; also "looking to be" is informal
By "informal" you mean non-standard English?
No, INFORMAL means that it's used in conversation or friendly emails, but not in documents, books or speeches. When you say that something is "looking to be" a certain way, you don't mean that the thing is actually LOOKING (at) anything; you mean that the observer thinks it "looks like" it will happen a certain way. So it's not grammatically correct. It's a bit like "hopefully".
Nikola Novak
KrisBlueNZ"now FARTHEST away from home THAN man had ever been" - should be FARTHER or FURTHER (a comparative) to go with THAN
What if I just remove "than"?
Yes, or replace THAN with THAT. Looking at it now, I think you meant to say "now THE farthest away from home THAT man had ever been".
Nikola Novak
KrisBlueNZ"it was A fantasy of every explorer" - I'd probably use THE instead of A to make it read more smoothly although that's not exactly what you mean to say.
It can easily be said to be "the" fantasy of every explorer, but I don't understand how that makes it read more smoothly (then again, I'm not a native speaker so...) Emotion: smile
Yes, it's arguable. "THE fantasy of every ..." is more idiomatic than "A fantasy of every ..." I think, but either is OK.
Nikola Novak
KrisBlueNZ"feel LIKE I have lied to you" - feel THAT I have
Is this the usual thing to say this, or is this some special case? In my language we usually say that we feel "like" something, or we feel "as if" something, unless we specifically name the feeling.
Here are some examples that I would use.
"I feel LIKE crap"; "I feel LIKE a young man" (FEEL LIKE = FEEL AS IF I AM)
"I feel LIKE [having] ice cream for breakfast"

"I feel THAT I have lied to you" or just "I feel I have lied to you" (FEEL THAT = FEEL AS IF).

Saying "I feel LIKE I have lied to you" is probably common enough in casual speech but I wouldn't use it.
Nikola Novak
KrisBlueNZ"humanity HAD first appeared" doesn't sound right; I'd remove HAD completely.
Actually, this might be a bit tricky to explain, but I used past perfect for a reason here. Simply put, there was the first timeline which then ended, and now we're in the second timeline. Humans had evolved (long) before the end of the first timeline, hence the past perfect. Of course, (again) I'm not a native speaker, but I'd like to know the specific reason why past perfect would be incorrect here.
The full quote is "Yes. This is the second known timeline to exist since humanity had first appeared." HAD is definitely wrong, it's something to do with mismatched tenses I guess. You could say that the current timeline "WAS the second timeline known to HAVE EXISTED since humanity HAD first appeared..." which is all past tense, or you could say "IS the second timeline known to HAVE EXISTED since humanity first appeared" (no HAD), which is present tense. Although your story is written in past tense, the lines spoken by the characters are in present tense, so the second way is correct. Also notice I changed "known to exist" to "known to have existed"; this is also about tense.
Nikola Novak
KrisBlueNZ"waited for the EMERGENCE of a suitable planet" - suggest DISCOVERY
Here again for the sake of the story I'd argue for "emergence" rather than "discovery". The mainframe was around since the beginning of the universe in the second timeline. Back then there were no planets - the cybertons had to wait for them to form. This is why I used "emerge".
Well, planets don't EMERGE. They form initially, then they wait for people to discover them. EMERGE would only be appropriate if the planet popped into the universe through some sort of wormhole or something! If you're talking about the planet's initial formation, you could use FORM, or be more specific e.g. "form from the dust of ...", but I wouldn't use EMERGE.
Nikola Novak
KrisBlueNZ"we will ENTER ORBIT of one of our mainframes" - ENTER THE ORBIT
I noticed that this is one of the mistakes that keeps popping up in my writing. I usually don't write the wrong article, but instead I leave it out entirely. The Google search mainly shows tutorials on when to use which. Are there any tutorials/rules about when to use articles at all?
I don't know, sorry. Have a look around this site, there's lots of good stuff here.
Nikola Novak
KrisBlueNZPlease don't be discouraged by all my suggestions.
Not at all! I welcome suggestions such as these because I can use them to improve my writing. Maybe I should be the one to apologize now, for being so stubborn about leaving some things as I originally wrote them. Emotion: smile
Well, you have your reasons. All I can do is tell you how your words come across to me; you make the decisions based on feedback.
Regards

Kris
Hey, Kris,

thanks for the explanations. They are very helpful and will certainly help me in my future writing.

Cheers,

Nikola
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