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The considerable debt of gratitude I have incurred to Mr X since I have known him, has continued to grow during this last period.

Is the use of since in the above sentence grammatically correct? Does the oddness I feel about it have to do with the tense?

Also I would like to know if this sentence sounds somehow cumbersome as a whole, because I just tried to translate it from another language.

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It is. Why do you think it might not be? –  Barrie England Jan 19 '13 at 11:54
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Unless you can tell what you suspect is wrong with it, how can anyone tell you anything? As for improving/ making it more "elegant", ask on writersSE. –  Kris Jan 19 '13 at 11:55
    
Ok, sorry. I am in particular unsure about the use of since and the verb tenses. Also I would like to know if this sentence sounds somehow cumbersome, because i just tried to translate from another language. –  user36038 Jan 19 '13 at 12:00
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Delete the comma after "him". It's not necessary. Rather than being so wordy (e.g., "considerable debt of gratitude"), say it more simply and briefly. As it's written now, it sounds as if you're groaning and moaning about that uncomfortable burden of gratitude, a debt that you have incurred. Maybe you can say something like this: "My gratitude to Mr. X for all the help he's given me since I've known him continues to grow." This way you mention that he's helped you (the reason for your gratitude) & that you're grateful (but don't consider the gratitude a "burden" or "debt". It's nicer. –  user21497 Jan 19 '13 at 12:19

2 Answers 2

I think that your uneasiness at reading that sentence is in an apparent aspectual "clash". It is not really about tense or inflectional forms of the verb.

When you say:

Since X

it is understood that X will refer to a punctual event, an event that happens once at a discrete, identifiable time, e.g.,

since I stopped smoking...
(ever) since the chandelier broke...
(ever) since I won the tournament...

It sounds odd if the event in X has non-punctual semantics, referring to an event that takes place over a long stretch of time

?(ever) since I was living as a non-smoker
?(ever) since we were living in a lightless house
?(ever) since I was living the life of a tournament-winner

The verb know has both punctual and non-punctual senses. The punctual sense is equivalent to meet, and the non-punctual sense is equivalent to be acquainted with.

The oddness of the sentence will vanish if you interpret know punctually, i.e.,

The considerable debt of gratitude I have incurred to Mr X since I met him, has continued to grow during this last period.

If you translated the sentence from a language which has separate preterite and imperfective forms, there would be no such ambiguity in the original sentence, but English does not have such a distinction in verb forms.

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This is the best answer to a question I have seen since: stackoverflow.com/questions/1732348/… –  Lucas Jan 20 '13 at 3:41

If you’re concerned about the grammaticality of verb forms in a sentence containing since when it is used to express length of time, then the verb phrase in the main clause must be a perfect construction, as it is in The considerable debt of gratitude I have incurred to Mr X since I have known him. By contrast, The considerable debt of gratitude I incurred to Mr X since I have known him would be ungrammatical.

There are nearly always different ways of expressing the same thought, and Bill has helpfully suggested an alternative to your sentence. It all depends on the impression you’re trying to create and on your relationship with the likely reader.

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