Takafumi Fujiwara
Matsumoto University, Nagano, Japan


It is said that abstract writing is one of the most important parts of English for Academic Purposes (EAP). By reading abstracts, readers can judge the quality of papers and avoid wasting precious time reading irrelevant parts. Against its importance, however, recommended ways of abstract writing may vary between researchers and teachers of EAP. Especially, the usage of verb tense is controversial. Some show that both the present tense and the past tense can be used in abstract writing depending on the objectives of the sentences. Others assert that only the past tense can be used in abstract writing. Furthermore, it is also said that the usage of verb tense may depend on the research field or may just be a matter of preference. The author has analysed the abstracts distributed to the participants of the 14th and 15th International Pragmatics Conference and revealed some traits of the corpus. To complement these, the aim of the present study is to clarify the tendencies of the tense usage in the same corpus. Further, the author randomly extracted 60 abstracts from the corpus and analysed them by utilising the five-move analysis and looking at the distribution of the present simple, the present perfect and the past simple in each move. In the study, a sentence was regarded as one unit and counting the numbers of the main verbs in the sentences yielded the distribution of verb tense in the corpus. The duration of the study was about two months. Contrary to the instructions of the writing textbooks and previous studies, the corpus contained numerous present verbs, which were used according to various objectives, such as emphasising achieved works and convincing the conclusions. The findings of this study can also give some implications to EAP.


Abstract, Abstract Writing, EAP, Genre Analysis, Verb Tense