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If we write a statement that is very common, should we use the past tense or present tense or future tense?

Which one is correct? Or it depends on how old I imagine the reader is?


Examples I came up with:

The "you" in (1) and (2) are used to refer to an average person (not a specific "you").

(1) What you are interested in at 18 can be different from what you are interested in at 40.

(2) What you were interested in at 18 can be different from what you are interested in at 40.

(3) What you were interested in at 18 can be different from what you will be interested in at 40.


Examples I came up with:

(a) What a person is interested in at 18 can be different from what that person is interested in at 40.

(b) What a person was interested in at 18 can be different from what that person is interested in at 40.

(c) What a person was interested in at 18 can be different from what that person will be interested in at 40.

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Which is most appropriate probably depends on your context and readership. As a general statement, I'd use the present tense versions (1)/(a).

If your readership is around 40, then (2)/(b) identifies more with them. Likewise if they are 20's/30's then (3)/(c) works.

However, the more you target one group, the more likely to are to alienate other readers. So a reader in their 60's might read (3)/(c) and then lose interest because it is not relevant to them, but (1)/(a) might keep their attention.

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