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In the following sentence, is it appropriate to shift the tense? (The tense which is shifted is in italics);

They were lucky enough to have escaped the clutches of the Giant. However, they had suffered a tremendous loss. Their resources were reduced to ashes and now, they have just lost their leader. Without their leader, they were nothing.

Is the usage of have correct? Does it have to something to do with the word now? If it's wrong, please state an alternative! And if possible, please explain the usage of verb shifts.

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  • Basically it's wrong. What about the ELL site, it's better
    – Fattie
    Sep 29, 2014 at 10:12
  • It's correct, the have seems appropriate and necessary. Why the doubt? How exactly do you understand "verb shift?" See also English Language Learners
    – Kris
    Sep 29, 2014 at 12:37
  • The sentence will need a verb shift when it switches time frame ?? But isn't 'have' for the present? This short story is meant to be based in the past. Sep 29, 2014 at 12:56
  • Maybe the last line is wrong and should be: "Without their leader, they ARE nothing.". If it is, then the previous line is OK. Or maybe their first and only leader has recently been chosen and then, in a short period of time, lost, so that they were without a leader before that. Jul 17, 2020 at 10:14

1 Answer 1

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It really depends on the meaning of the word "now". It could equally apply to something which just happened at that moment, or to the use of the "present historic" referring to a past event.

If it is the former than the text is correct as it stands. However as it appears in the same sentence as a past event - "Their resources were reduced to ashes" it is almost certainly the historic use. In this case the pluperfect (past perfect) is required: - "...and now they had just lost their leader".

However were I writing it I feel that for clarity's purpose I would word it slightly differently:

They were lucky enough to have escaped the clutches of the Giant. However, they had suffered a tremendous loss. Their resources were reduced to ashes and now, having just lost their leader, they were nothing.

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