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Is anything wrong about this phrase "We build software solutions designed for scalability"? I think there is, because the tenses are not consistent.

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Designed is not acting as a verb. –  Noah Jul 26 '12 at 13:29
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@Noah Sure it is. It just isn’t a finite one. Participles, gerunds, and infinitives can all introduce verbal phrases in English, which makes them verbs, verbs that just happen to function as substantives or modifiers. Consider: “Finishing it early is what makes me happiest”; the direct object of finishing is it, and only verbs have direct objects, so finishing is without question a verb. It is also acting as a substantive here. You can do the same with the other non-finite forms. –  tchrist Jul 26 '12 at 13:34
    
@tchrist- I thought participles were not acting as verbs. Thanks for clearing that up. –  Noah Jul 26 '12 at 13:49
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2 Answers 2

up vote 8 down vote accepted

There is absolutely nothing whatsoever wrong with that sentence. A participle that introduces a verbal phrase is under no obligation to agree with the tense of the main verb. That just would not be sensible.

Past participle used with non-past verbs:

  • We’re looking for people interested in birding.
  • English is the world language spoken by the most number of individuals as a second language.
  • I won’t fix a roof damaged by hail.
  • You should drink only water boiled for at least one minute.
  • Broken windows must be repaired immediately.

Present participle used with non-present verbs:

  • I saw you sleeping in the park.
  • I always ate my ice cream with it dripping down my chin.
  • I didn’t want him contemplating any other possibility.
  • Running in the morning was never my passion.
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There is absolutely nothing whatsoever wrong with explaining why the sentence is fine. It is obviously for what reason he's unsure about the correctness of his sentence, so why don't say a few words about it if you really want to answer that question... –  Em1 Jul 26 '12 at 13:15
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@Em1 I have noticed that a lot of experienced users on this site answer the question first and then elaborate on it via a series of edits. It's oddly entertaining watching some of them punch in their edits before SE decides that it has been too long and a new revision is warranted. As you can probably tell, that's what tchrist has done so here as well :) –  coleopterist Jul 26 '12 at 13:26
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@coleopterist Because I only ever seem to gain reputation for accepted answers, not for merely upvoted ones, I often come back and improve the original. :) [yes, I know why] –  tchrist Jul 26 '12 at 13:32
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Designed for scalability is a participle clause, postmodifying solutions. Designed is a non-finite verb, which means it shows no tense or person. The clause can be replaced with a finite relative clause with a passive verb: We build software solutions that are designed for scalability. That may help you understand why there is no inconsistency in the verbs.

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