2

What's the difference between the following examples:

  1. I noticed that the clock had stopped.

  2. I noticed that the clock has stopped.

Some of them say that if the emphasis is laid on the subordinate clause then present perfect tense can be used, while some say if the emphasis is laid on 'noticing' then past perfect tense is to be used. How correct is this explanation?

closed as off-topic by choster, Chenmunka, Centaurus, Kristina Lopez, Ellie Kesselman Jun 3 '15 at 2:51

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • 2) I've noticed the clock's stopped (working) – Mari-Lou A May 10 '15 at 5:36
  • @Mari-Lou A -- so is sentence 2) wrong ? – iamRR May 10 '15 at 6:33
  • Yes, it is. The correct version is the one I left. You can also write. I have noticed that the clock has stopped, but in speech words are contracted. – Mari-Lou A May 10 '15 at 6:36
  • Some of them say that if the emphasis is laid on the subordinate clause then present perfect tense can be used. While some say if the emphasis is laid on 'noticing' then past perfect tense to be used. How correct is this explanation ? – iamRR May 10 '15 at 6:47
  • That observation isn't in the question, I don't want to appear rude, but EL&U is not a forum where people discuss and give answers in comments. Good answers are self-contained. You can add an edit to your question, if you wish. Note that there is a "right" answer to these things, much depends on context and the dialect of one's English. – Mari-Lou A May 10 '15 at 6:50
2

You can always use (1). You should not use (2) if the clock is no longer stopped.

  • In book I read that if the main verb is in the past tense then the verb in subordinate clause will also be in the past tense while in many news articles I find this guideline to be violated. So which is correct ? And what would you say about - President learned that the earthquake has caused havoc all across the country. Here is 'has caused' correct ? – iamRR May 10 '15 at 6:12
  • I await your reply. – iamRR May 10 '15 at 8:39
0

1) I noticed that the clock had stopped.

You looked at the clock, and it was not working. This was in the past, maybe 5 seconds ago, maybe 5 years ago

2) I noticed that the clock has stopped.

You looked at the clock recently and it is not working

In sentence 1, this was sometime in the past where as in sentence 2, it was also in the past but more recent

-1

For at least some English speakers, including me, your second example is ungrammatical. The sentence complement of a verb in the past tense cannot have its verb in the present tense. This rule does not apply to verbs in relative clauses -- the following are all grammatical:

I noticed the clock that stopped.
I noticed the clock that had stopped.
I noticed the clock that has stopped.
I noticed the clock that will stop.

This is because there needn't necessarily be any connection between the stopping of the clock and my noticing the clock (unlike the complement clause examples you asked about).

  • So what do you suggest ? Is "I noticed that the clock has stopped." not correct ? P.S. some of them say that if the emphasis is laid on the subordinate clause then present perfect tense can be used. While some say if the emphasis is laid on 'noticing' then past perfect tense to be used. How correct is this explanation ? – iamRR May 10 '15 at 6:09
  • 1
    The sentence "I noticed that the clock has stopped" is ungrammatical for some speakers. I don't know how it would be interpreted. It doesn't mean anything, to me. – Greg Lee May 10 '15 at 14:13
  • 2
    And what would you say about "The president learned that the earthquake has caused havoc all across the country." Here is 'has caused' correct ? – iamRR May 10 '15 at 14:20
  • 2
    That's where the confusion breeds. Some say its grammatical while some say its not. Sir, what would be your advise on it. Because in many noted news articles I find that present perfect tense is used even when the verb in the main clause is in past tense. One query more- Is the sentence 'He said that he has painted the door.' grammatically correct ? – iamRR May 10 '15 at 15:24
  • 1
    @GregLee Your rationale that the speaker might be using the present-tense to assert what is in that complement S sounds reasonable. But that type of usage is probably part of today's standard English. Consider the example "Their teacher had told them that the earth moves around the sun" which is from the 1985 Quirk et al. (A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language, section 14.31, page 1027). -- In general, (when the preconditions are fulfilled) backshift is often optional; though there are some exceptions, and also some things might make it preferable or not preferable. – F.E. May 18 '15 at 18:08

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.