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I am having a massive debate about whether the following sentence is grammatical:

The tag was created and is printed.

The issue is the switch of tense between was created and is printed. Some argue that this is invalid English because of the inconsistency of the tenses. However, it seems to me that the presence of the conjunction and allows for this because the tag applies to both verb phrases and makes the above sentence a short hand form of something like:

The tag was created. It is printed.

It's possible that this is only the case with forms of to be, however, or perhaps just the passive. For example, the following certainly does not seem grammatical:

He threw the rock and catches the ball.

But there is a fundamental difference between the two examples, besides the forms of to be. In the latter, the subject of the sentence is not also the object of the verb as it is in the sentence under question. As such, such a shift in mentality with just a conjunction is not warranted.

It gets very confusing. Is it grammatical to switch tenses in a predicate at all? If so, under what circumstances?

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closed as general reference by MετάEd, FumbleFingers, Carlo_R., tchrist, Daniel Oct 3 '12 at 16:26

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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Of course you can mix tenses, if it makes sense. For example, someone could say "I was baptised, so I know I will go to heaven when I die". That's past, present, and future all validly used in one sentence. The question is Not Constructive. –  FumbleFingers Oct 2 '12 at 17:03

1 Answer 1

up vote 4 down vote accepted

I grew up in Sydney and live in London. It’s hard to think of a more natural way to say this. So, yes, it is grammatical to conjoin predicates in different tenses: it always was, still is, and ever will be.

(He catches the ball and It is printed sound a bit weird out of context. That may account for your wondering whether something is wrong with your initial sentences. He catches the ball sounds like a primer sentence. It is printed might be better as It has been printed, but, without context, it’s hard to say.)

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He threw the rock and is catching the ball. –  Peter Shor Oct 3 '12 at 1:52

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