I'm slightly confused, Shouldn't we stick to the past continuous in this sentence?

The Germans began running to the town and when they realized the Jews are escaping, started shooting at them and 5 people died."

I would say the Jews were escaping, or maybe this sentence does not really affect grammar rules, which I'm concerned about.

  • 1
    You're right that it would be more consistent to use the past tense throughout. That said, it's not unusually, especially in creative writing, to mix tenses; I'm sure there's some linguistic or technical term for this literary technique, but I'm thinking of co stratum s like "Emma and Sally were enjoying a quiet Sunday brunch when suddenly the a loud bang rings out... gunshots" (ok, ok, so I shouldn't quit my day job). – Dan Bron Jun 4 '15 at 10:40
  • The problem is that This writing is not a creative one it is just a translation of a witness's statement and according to the oryiginal version of the whole sentence this should have been written in past tense, at least to me. I think the translator didn't mean to make it Creative, he just made a mistake. – Justyna Nogala Jun 4 '15 at 10:50
  • You are right, Justyna. It should be 'Jews were escaping'. Sometimes we can use Present Tense with realised to show that the thing still continues. This isn't such a case. 'were' fits better here. – Veronica Diamond Jun 4 '15 at 11:38
  • 1
    The whole thing should have been written in past tense. Perhaps the original was in present tense because the rules for that language are different. – Peter Shor Jun 4 '15 at 12:32
  • You are basically right. And this is what the English language is famous for. – Konrad Gajewski Jun 4 '15 at 12:54

The answer would be past continuous because when you say the Jews were escaping you are referring to past continuous. They key word here is were.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

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