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Since English is my foreign language, I always run into some unforeseen complication when describing daily activities I have just done in my daily journal. That is, I often use present perfect sentences with present, present perfect continuous, and past simple sentences in order to be specific about the time frame as much as possible. This mixture always confuses me and made me feel less confident when I want to be specific about the time frame. So I would like to know if these sample texts are grammatically correct and sound natural:

  1. I have cleared the table, since the food was so dry that I could not finish it. [Present Perfect + Past Simple]
  2. I have changed my pants, because the weather has been getting hotter this morning. [Present Perfect + Present Perfect Continuous]
  3. I decided to take this course, because it is important for my future career. [Past Simple + Present Simple]
  4. I decided to take this course, because it was important for my future career. [Past Simple + Past Simple]

Any advice is appreciated.

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(1) and (2) are correct (assuming you have just completed the action described).

Assuming that the course remains important for your future, use (3) rather than (4). (It was important implies that it has since ceased to be important.)

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    As far as I'm concerned, there is no clear reason to prefer (3) over (4). They are both equally valid. As with backshifting being optional in reported speech, it just comes down to personal choice. Both versions sound completely natural to me (as do I told her the earth was round and I told her the earth is round), and I wouldn't say that somebody should use one over the other—barring some specific context where one is explicitly warranted. – Jason Bassford Jul 5 '20 at 15:43
  • To me, (3) make same think the speaker is in the course now or at least the career is still in the future. (4) sounds like the course is done and the speaker has progressed to the career. In that case, (4) might be a little more natural with "that course" instead of "this course." But the verb tenses are OK in all four. – Damila Aug 4 '20 at 15:57
  • I think example 1 sounds better with 'have', to read as "I cleared the table, since the food was so dry that I could not finish it." – Ram Pillai Dec 2 '20 at 17:04

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