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I'm not certain about which tense to use in this sentence: "I thought about how this machine _____." (This is coming from a scenario where I had previously used the machine and started to think about its inner-mechanisms.)

Would I use "worked", since my thought occurred in the past, or "works", since I am assuming the machine still works to the present day?

  • ..how this machine would work. – user240918 Mar 14 '18 at 14:51
  • I should have been more specific, my bad. This is coming from a scenario where I had previously used the machine, and started to think about its inner-mechanisms. – E5C4P3 Mar 14 '18 at 14:53
  • If it is still working, I would say that 'works' is the most suitable. It is an attribute of the machine and is neither past nor present. It just is. (Until it stops working.) – Nigel J Mar 14 '18 at 15:50
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I would use "worked".

"I'm thinking about how this machine works" would be the present form. "I thought about how this machine worked" if the above happened in the past.

I would not use "would work", because it's a translation in the past of something like: "I'm thinking about how this machine will work".

If I'm wrong, then apologies!

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