I understand that you must use past tense when writing minutes. However, there are some instances when I am not sure if past tense should be used as it would either change the meaning of the sentence or sound weird. Below are some situations which I have trouble with:

1.When something is in progress.


  • The team is checking on the machine. (Should it be: The team was checking on the machine)
  • Checks on the system are being done. (Should it be: Checks on the system was being done)

2.When Something is not Certain.

Example :

  • If there is sufficient data to support the efficiency of the new system... (Should it be: If there was sufficient data to support the efficiency of the new system...)

  • If the project is successful... (should it be: If the project was successful)

Thanks for helping.

  • I have to log all incidents during the course of a shift and I always use past tense, even if the incident is ongoing. I only report a thing when I have some idea of the nature of it and the consequences of it. It can be very confusing for a reader to understand a sequence of events after the fact if different tenses are used in the log.
    – Nigel J
    May 21, 2018 at 8:30
  • 1
    I wouldn’t worry about it. Most people are just happy that someone else wrote the minutes. It’s often easier to establish a timeline or “cause and effect” by putting times or other information in the text, as opposed to trying to do this with a mix of tenses.
    – user205876
    Dec 13, 2019 at 8:44
  • 1
    Definitely not "Checks on the system was being done". You could say "A check on the system was being done" or "Checks on the system were being done" but the form of the verb 'to be' must match the plurality or singularity of the noun. Sometimes you hear native speakers say things like "checks was being done" but that is an example of lower class dialect, not grammatically correct English.
    – BoldBen
    Sep 8, 2020 at 6:55

2 Answers 2


If the matter is in progress you need the present tense or the conditional tense as you have illustrated. (Data is plural so: "If there are sufficient data ...".) When I've taken minutes in the past, I've listed such matters as "open" in the minutes. When they are resolved they have been listed as "closed".


There are many different formats for taking minutes. Some people follow certain formats/ templates, while others do not. If an item or more are ongoing, it is summarized say, like “Finalization of annual fee” and is marked “ongoing/ open”. Ideally the agenda and the discussions (only if pertinent) could be summarized and marked “pending, ongoing, to discuss further”, if they are not closed issues.


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