When commenting on the information shown in a graph like this one, can I use the simple present to report the trends? For example, in the graph below, let's ignore the fact that Japan is predicted to surpass the other two from around 2032 onward. As you can see, the figure for Japan is projected to be lowest even until 2030. So, can I write: "Overall, Japan generally has the lowest figures throughout the period examined"?

If not, what should be my approach here to write the sentence? Should I use both the past simple tense and the future simple tense?

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  • 2
    "overall...generally...throughhout" is not good, but yes, you can use the simple present, though with a loss of clarity. It would be better, I think, to indicate that the graph shows both historical data and future projections. Japan has had the smallest percentage, by far, of people over age 65 but that percentage is expected to increase dramatically in the next 20 years.
    – TimR
    Commented Mar 18 at 9:15
  • Thank you for your response! Yeah, I think using both overall and generally is redundant, but if I remove overall, I haven't seen the problem with the other two words. Could you expand on it? Commented Mar 18 at 9:38
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    Since Japan's data is projected to change dramatically in the next 20 years, generally...thoughout the period examined is not accurate. Better to say "for the last 80 years" instead of "generally ... throughout the period examined".
    – TimR
    Commented Mar 18 at 10:22
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    If referring to the chart, then the present is fine: "In the chart, Japan has...". If you're talking about explanations behind the data, then you may want to switch to past/future "this was because Japan experienced declining birth rates", although you might use the present if it's neater and avoids too much swapping tenses.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Mar 18 at 10:27

1 Answer 1


Overall, Japan generally has the lowest figures throughout the period examined.

I add to what TimR has said.

As the phrase the period examined may be interpreted as including the years after 2032, its use, similar to overall, generally and throughhout, may not be appropriate. We would then need other descriptions for completeness.

Yes, we may use the present tense:

Japan has the lowest figures so far and is projected to remain so till 2030.

Japan has the lowest figures for the last 84 years and is projected to remain so till 2030.

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