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My girlfriend and I are arguing on what is the correct way of writing the following sentence. To provide a little context - The children have never met their Grandmother yet. Is it correct to say:

They had never known their grandmother and it was high time they did.

or

They had never known their grandmother and it was high time they do.

I'm confused because for me the first one sounds correct but she argues that the latter is correct since we're talking in the present tense.

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The first sentence is fine if you’re talking about a past situation. If you’re talking about the present situation, then you need to say

They have never known their grandmother and it is high time they did.

It’s did in both cases, because one of the uses of the past tense is to express what is known as ‘unreal meaning’. You can’t use do, because it clearly isn’t yet true that the children know their grandmother.

  • Thank you for this answer! Though I only thought it sounded correct, I now have an explanation to go with it. – Vincent Paca Jan 30 '14 at 12:41
  • Do can be used in the second to represent the implied future. – Anonym Jan 30 '14 at 22:29
  • I would suggest that it is high time that government reconsidered how it is going to deal with drug pushers, for current methods are expensive, fundamentally ineffective and deny funding in far more needy areas. Example sentence in Oxford Dictionary Why did they use past tense "considered"? It said "... it IS high time that .."! @VincentPaca – Anomalisa Sep 9 '16 at 11:01
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In this context, I think the first sentence is correct.

They had never known their grandmother and it was high time they did.

Since the sentence starts with They HAD .., maintaining the same tense through out, it should end with .. they DID.
However, if it starts with They HAVE never .., then using ..it IS high time they DO makes sense.

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