I am writing a recommendation for a project. My recommendation may or may not be followed, so I have been using conditional present throughout.


The module would be responsible for ...
The service would interact with...

However, the recommendation is several pages long, and it feels tedious writing everything in this tense, so I'm wondering if it would be tedious to read as well. Additionally, when writing compound sentences that require tense agreement, I sometimes have trouble trying to find the appropriate tense to match with the conditional tense (even as a native English speaker.)

I am thinking about changing to simple future:

The module will be responsible for ...
The service will interact with...

or even simple present:

The module is responsible for ...
The service interacts with...

Is there a standard to use when writing recommendations/proposals/etc.?

  • 1
    If you're recommending it, the strongest way to phrase it is as a fait accompli: as if your recommendation has been taken and your wrote serves as a sort of documentation of the project. Your audience will be intelligent enough to understand the context that at the moment, the choice hasn't been made, and your recommendation is speculative. (Note that I'm not referencing any established authority here, but the way I've phrased my recommendation makes it seem like the right thing to do, right?).
    – Dan Bron
    Jun 23, 2015 at 21:47
  • Haha, well done. :) I was probably worried about being too presumptuous, but your comment makes it clear that I shouldn't be worried about that. Make it an answer if you like.
    – Hutch
    Jun 23, 2015 at 21:53
  • Despite what I said, that's a bit trickier. Except for the most obvious cases, I get uncomfortable providing answers which I can't support with external authorities. Don't want to leave a paper trail of unsubstantiated opinion; that's how guys get in trouble ;)
    – Dan Bron
    Jun 23, 2015 at 21:59
  • I usually start with a sentence like I write in support of my student/colleague Insert Name, who is applying for Insert Application. I have known Ms Name since Date, and am well-acquainted with her abilities and accomplishments. Jun 23, 2015 at 23:17

1 Answer 1


Use simple present as a rule.

If you are trying to promote your project with said recommendation then yes, write it like it has already been chosen; write it like it's your project already. Exercise some caution, though, as you don't want to sound arrogant. Future tense might be necessary at times, but conditional tenses are best avoided (see example below).

Are you aligning your project with some kind of specification or brief that you've been given? In this case it is best to match the tense of the specification or brief. Think back to your school days and remember being told to "always answer in full sentences." You would rewrite as much of the original question within your answer as you could - do the same.

An example of what I mean is a job advert, and the covering letter that one would write to the company offering the job in an attempt to be considered for the vacancy:


  • The ideal candidate has a degree or equivalent in Musical Chairs;
  • The applicant will be a good leader during thunderstorms;
  • The candidate would possess thorough knowledge of modern coffee machines.


"... I have a degree in Musical Chairs from [important Institution] ..."

"... In the event of any inclement weather I will be a good leader because [lightning doesn't make me cry] ..."

"... I have good working knowledge of all major coffee machine brands ..."

You'll notice that the third Advert statement (conditional) should be 'upscaled' to simple present because it makes a stronger point in your response. "I would possess thorough knowledge" sounds like you might come up with a reason not to possess the knowledge in between writing the letter and getting the job. The same goes for your project.

If you aren't writing to some specification or following any brief, then write as assertively as you can. Try to imagine what the brief would say, if you had one to follow.

If you feel you are tiring the reader with a repetitive "it has/is" and "it will" then rearrange the sentence to shift the boring verb to the back, if you can't exorcise it altogether:

My project will cost four shillings.

The cost of my project is four shillings.


My project has a setup time of three days.

My project's setup time stands at three days.

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