Could you please confirm if the following sentence is correct or not?

...he comes over quite often, he and I got on quite well when we see each other so not much issue there.

Or should it be:

...he comes over quite often, he and I get on quite well when we see each other so not much issue there.

Which one is correct, or are both, depending on context?

  • It can sometimes work, but it is marked. – curiousdannii Jan 11 '16 at 23:51

In your first sentence, you switch from past to present tense where the second clause is a temporal qualifier, which is not allowed.

"...he comes over quite often, he and I got on quite well when we see each other so not much issue there."

A more extreme example of this not being right might be, 'I was tired when I am hungry'.

Your second sentence is correct, because the tense matches.

To answer your title, which is broader, you can combine tenses in a sentence if they are in separate clauses but remember to match tense when you use 'when'. An allowable example without 'when':

I have to get my hair cut because I was told that it is too long by my teacher.

  • Is this structure allowed? "It wasn't the fighting or problems that mattered, but it’s what you make out of it." – Quazi Irfan Aug 11 '14 at 23:05
  • 1
    No @iamcreasy, and this sentence is wrong for several reasons. I would word this as, "It isn't the fighting or the problems that matter, but what you make from them." You can't refer to a plurality of things as 'it', you can't use a conjunction and then change tense while remaining grammatically correct (though your meaning can usually be conveyed). – Sam Aug 14 '14 at 21:29
  • Thanks. So, is it even allowed to have mixed tense in a single sentence? – Quazi Irfan Aug 15 '14 at 5:49
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    @iamcreasy look at the second sentence I highlighted in my answer, it contains an example with mixed tense in a single sentence. You can move from past to present or future as long as there is continuity. An example moving through from past to future using the same idea would be "I have to get(present) my hair cut on Monday because I was(past) told by my teacher that it will(future) be too long for the ceremony on Friday, and I will(future) have no other free time to do so during the week." this structure is one of present being dictated by past and then affecting future. – Sam Aug 16 '14 at 11:36

You could fix the first one by changing "see" to "saw".

...he comes over quite often, he and I got on quite well when we saw each other so not much issue there.

While not ideal, it conveys the sense that someone who comes over often may not generally get along with you, but when last seen, it went well.

Another example: "Do you see what I did there?"

  • The punctuation is atrocious unless there is very strange context. – Edwin Ashworth Jul 6 '16 at 21:40

protected by Janus Bahs Jacquet Jul 6 '16 at 21:31

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