Do You Use The Past Tense or Present Tense to Describe Movies?

When you’re writing any type of paper, story, review, or other source of media, you need to know what tense you’re writing in: past or present. Movies are a source of media you should know how to describe. So, do you describe movies in the past or present tense?

When you’re describing movies, the best way to describe them is in the present tense. This is called the literary present. The reason why is because it flows better to describe movies in the present tense, and also because the past tense should be used when describing things such as historical events rather than movies.

The rest of this article will cover why you should use the present tense, and why you shouldn’t use the past tense.

Why You Should Use The Present Tense

For movies, you should always use the present tense to describe what’s happening; also called the literary present tense. You should use this tense because whenever you’re watching the events in a movie, you’re viewing them as they’re happening.

Books, movies, TV shows, and other sources of media should all be described in the present tense because their plots are timeless. Therefore, unless you are describing an event that happens in the past in the timeline of the story, you should always use present tense.

Why You Shouldn’t Use The Past Tense

The past tense is used in a lot of modern day books. It’s common because of how well it flows when you’re reading it. However, when you’re describing media like books and movies, it’s not a great idea because you can confuse the people you’re speaking to.

When you describe something in the past tense, you’re describing it as something that happened in the past. If you’re going to use the past tense, you should use it to describe historical events, not movies.

For example, if you’re describing a movie that is based on a historical event, you should use present tense to describe the movie, then past tense to describe the real event. This method gives proper distinction between historical events and fictional events.

The one exception is when something in the plot happens in the past. For example, if Jane is explaining her past, then you can use the past tense to describe that. Here is an example of that:

“Jane gets her phone and looks at her favorite picture of her best friend. Jane and her best friend have been friends for five years. Five years ago, Jane’s best friend bumped into her and they became friends after that.”