Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I'm writing a personal statement in which I describe a course I have learned in my college.

Should I use "the course IS really difficult" or "the course WAS really difficult" ?

Since I still think that course is difficult for me, I don't know which tense to use.

share|improve this question
1  
I suggest you should not mention a course you had difficulties with, unless you overcame those difficulties –  mplungjan Mar 9 '13 at 17:40
add comment

2 Answers 2

When you write about something that is no longer going on, then you generally write using the past tense and say something like, "In my sophomore year in university, I studied quantum mechanics. The course was very difficult, so I needed a tutor, but I finally understood the basic principles and scored 95% on the final examination".

You cannot say that you learned a course in my college: it's not native-speaker English, not idiomatic, and not semantically accurate. You may learn a language, but you study subjects like math, economics, physics, history.

Be careful about what you say and how you say it. You should probably ask a knowledgeable and commonsensical friend to edit your personal statement.

share|improve this answer
1  
+1 And in US English, at least, a course is an 'episode', typically a single semester or quarter studying a subject, not a 'course of study' lasting several semesters and comprising several courses. –  StoneyB Mar 9 '13 at 17:41
    
Yes, look at the tense of all of the verbs around that one and they, generally speaking, should be in the same tense. –  Tear--Here Sep 7 '13 at 6:40
add comment

Since you are describing your feelings toward a course which you had taken in the past, I believe you should use the past tense. You opinion carries a context which includes the professor who taught the course, the structure of the course, and your comprehension of the material. All of these variables are dependent on time.

share|improve this answer
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.