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Does the gerund clause Starting in imply the future tense? For example, is this correct?

Starting in January, 2012, we will use public transportation.

Or is it proper to use the following:

Starting in January, 2011, we use public transportation.

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    Are you asking about the construction starting with or starting in? They're not the same. And neither one is a gerund. What do you want -- terminology, grammar, or usage? – John Lawler Dec 22 '11 at 15:24
  • In this example 'starting' is not acting like a noun, so it is not a gerund. But maybe that should be the question, "what is the function of 'starting' in this sentence?" – Mitch Dec 22 '11 at 16:58
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No, "starting with" does not imply future tense. For example,

Starting in February 1999 we began using large pages

describes an action that occurred in the past. The phrase does imply that some relative sequencing order exists in whatever is referred to. In your examples, where January, 2011 is a date in the past, you might less clumsily write either of

Since January, 2011, we have been using public transportation
In January, 2011, we began using public transportation

Regarding awkwardness of, for example, "Starting with January 2012, the platform will use a two-digit numbering scheme": The problem with this stems, I think, from the first phrase acting like a dangling participle. To avoid the problem, one can move the phrase to the end, or use other wordings:

The platform will use a two-digit numbering scheme starting in January 2012.
The platform will use a two-digit numbering scheme from January 2012 forward.
Beginning January 2012, the platform will use a two-digit numbering scheme.

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  • I an using "Starting in" to describe a new versioning method that will begin with the new year. Starting with January 2012, the X platform will use a two-digit numbering scheme. The wording as follows seems awkward to me, but I don't understand the exact rule it violates. "Starting in January 2012, the X platform uses a two-digit version numbering scheme. – Wendy Dec 22 '11 at 16:05
  • It's awkward because using the present tense by itself is usually a Generic verb usage; but you're talking here about something changing, rather than describing an ongoing state or action. A future is OK (and this is one of those contexts that prefers will to be going to), but there are lots of other ways, too. – John Lawler Dec 22 '11 at 16:16
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    By the way, starting in these phrases is not a Gerund, nor a Preposition, but a Participle; in particular, it's the active participle of the verb start. – John Lawler Dec 22 '11 at 16:20
  • @Wendy - I added a paragraph about this example. – James Waldby - jwpat7 Dec 22 '11 at 16:26
  • Thanks, John. You hit on why I don't like "uses." We are trying to stay away from future tense, but with this phrasing, the future tense is more clear. So, we changed the sentence to this; In January 2012, Y-company introduces a new two-digit platform version numbering scheme. – Wendy Dec 22 '11 at 16:43
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"Starting" doesn't imply the future tense.

As I typed "starting in" into Google, I was prompted with:

"Starting in 1941, an increasing number of British Airmen found themselves as the involuntary guests of the Third Reich"

"Starting in January, 2011, we use public transportation" feels clunky, although I can't put my finger on why.

I would prefer:

  • "Starting in January, 2011, we have used public transportation"
  • "Starting in January, 2011, we have been using public transportation"
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  • But if it were January 2013, in the future, the present tense use would be perfectly acceptable. – Peter Shor Dec 22 '11 at 15:29
  • Really? "Starting in January 2013, we will use..." makes much more sense to me. – Ian Clelland Dec 22 '11 at 15:42
  • Acceptable, but not usual. Consider "tonight, we dance"; "first we take Manahattan" – slim Dec 22 '11 at 15:45
  • I agree with Ian, but don't know the grammatical rule. That's what I am looking for. – Wendy Dec 22 '11 at 16:09
  • "I use" is simple present tense, one use of which is "to indicate scheduled events in the near future". "I will use" is future simple tense, which more explicitly places the event in the future. – slim Dec 22 '11 at 16:15
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Starting with the point of view of the intended audience of your document, and keeping in mind that you "are trying to stay away from future tense", then the phrasing doesn't break rules.

It's a form of "Business English" that suggests urgency. Like telling a joke or story in the present tense, instead of the past tense.

If the thing is going to happen in the future, it would make sense and be grammatically practical to use the future tense. But there's a big ("emotive") difference between "A guy walks into a bar ... " and "A guy walked into a bar ... "

The present tense puts you into and makes you feel more involved with the situation.

The sentence reads fine, if the intention is to get the reader "even more" involved with the topic/situation.

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