Improper Usage of the Past Tense Makes You Sound Weak
There’s a disease in America… No it’s not politics! It’s the millenials again. This time they are running around using the past tense when they mean the present.
Yesterday, a waitress asked me, “Did you also want a coffee?”. What did she want me to say? Something like: “I did… but now I want tea.” I just gave her useless information. It’s clear that she only wanted to know the present answer.
- A friend asked me, “Hey! You free? I was going to go to Joe’s.”
- So I decided to be cheeky and responded with, “Yeah. I’m free. What happened though?”
- Confused, he replied, “Uh… nothing?”
- I said, “I am free. But, you said you were going to go to Joes. So do you want to hang out instead of going to Joe’s? Are you inviting me to Joe’s? Or were you just randomly telling me you had some plan to go to Joe’s”
- His migraine worsened, “Just… come with me to Joe’s.”
- I smirked, “Nice! Let’s go.”
Please don’t use the past tense when you intend on present or future tense. If you are giving or asking for information in the present, then use the present tense. In my opinion, it comes far more passive and less clear when the past tense is improperly used in place of the present. One unusual phenomenon that occurs when people ask questions in this manner is an odd projection of shyness. I notice that it often sounds like this: “Did you want to hang out…?” With the last few words drifting off, almost cowering in the impending rejection.
Be strong! The present tense helps more than you’d think. Ask people, “Do you want to hang out?”.
When inviting people to hang, just make a direct invitation in the present tense. Exclaim, “Let’s go to the movies!”. Don’t ever say, “Did you want to go to the movies?”
Of course, context is everything. You may say something like, “I was going to go to Joes but I forgot that I had a date.” The supplemental information regarding the date completes a full story. Unfortunately, not a lot of people have such a story handy for simple answers or plans.
Try this new hack on for size. You will lose weight, your credit score will rise, and you’ll win many friends.