Questions tagged [sequence-of-tenses]

for questions about the agreement between the tenses of verbs in related clauses or sentences.

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Has or Had in this example? [migrated]

So today I had to write this sentence and it came to me with this little doubt: Fixed multiple bugs when a task has/had no date. I'm more convinced by had, I'm saying that the bugs occurred when the ...
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talking about general things - choice of tense to "set the scene"

This is a question that I've been struggling with for quite a long time. I have asked a similar question in the ELL forum already but I didn't get an answer there and it is difficult to find ...
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Had or has or simple past in this context? [migrated]

Due to an objection letter, the book launch was cancelled. the main concern specified in the letter was that in his works the author has/had/… underestimated the role of the organization. So there is ...
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Backshifting in reported speech - thought/knew/promised

This is another question on backshifting. I looked at other such questions at ELU & ELL, it appears that the general consensus is something like 'if the reported situation still hasn't changed, it'...
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Why do we say "he made me eat it" but "he allowed me to eat it"

Why does the choice of first verb "made" vs. "allowed" change the tense of the second verb "eat" vs "to eat". Using the opposite tense in either case sounds ...
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Past simple and pluperfect with “before”

Which of the following is correct? “I had learned to sing before I learned to dance.” “I learned to sing before I had learned to dance.” “I learned to sing before I learned to dance.” I think only ...
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Why does the backshifting of tenses rule not apply here?

Why does the backshifting of tenses rule not apply to this sentence?: "I forgot what a liar he is." Because the verb "forgot" in the main clause is past tense, shouldn't the verb ...
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What mood is "if I were" in?

Wikipedia says about English subjunctive mood: In Modern English, the subjunctive is realised as a finite but tenseless clause where the main verb occurs in the bare form. Since the bare form is also ...
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Could you please help and explain to me how to correct the seemingly incorrect passive voice sentence pattern?

Could you please help and explain to me how to correct the seemingly incorrect passive voice sentence pattern? I would prefer it if we could be sat next to a window.
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Past tense sentence containing a habitual action in present tense

I have found a few questions on the site regarding habitual action and tenses, but nothing addresses my specific query. I want to know whether it is acceptable to use the present tense to describe a ...
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1 answer
151 views

Why are the "sequence of tenses" rules not observed in some special cases? [closed]

An excerpt from an article on Yahoo: "The disappearances of two top Taliban figures from public view have prompted a spokesperson to deny that one of them had died, multiple outlets reported"...
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There is this sentence in the book "Fight Club" and I don't quite understand the verbs that are used, can you help me?

I'm reading a book called Fight Club and there is this sentence that got me confused: Marla had started going to support groups after she found the first lump. Now, past perfect is used in this ...
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Present Perfect in main clause

I cannot determine whether both of these instances are appropriate uses of present perfect. Scenario: We just pull up to a restaurant and notice we are the first/last ones there, and someone utters: &...
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"I had fallen asleep" vs "I fell asleep" [duplicate]

Which sentence below is grammatically correct? I didn't answer your questions because I had fallen asleep early last night. I didn't answer your questions because I fell asleep early last night. I'...
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Tenses in dependent clauses with conditionals

From wikipedia: Apart from the special cases referred to in the sections above, many other dependent clauses use a tense that might not logically be expected – in particular the present tense is used ...
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What is a complex/difficult example of English tenses? [closed]

I'm a native English speaker, and while learning other languages, I've learned that English has more complex tenses than other languages. I don't know what all of the English tenses are, but the most ...
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2 answers
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Verb tense consistency in a sentence [closed]

I learned that we do not shift tenses between sentences unless there is a time change that must be shown. I have two examples below that I'm not sure whether they're grammatically correct or not. I ...
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Can you use “if past, then past”?

Is it possible to use the past simple in the result-clause of the 2nd conditional? Is it possible to say: If I had enough money, I bought a car.
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Does "could" always mean something less likely than "can", even in backshifted subordinate clauses?

Does the could version always show more uncertainty/doubt than the can version in each of ⑴, ⑵, and ⑶? You can/could get very nasty skin diseases from bathing in dirty water. You can/could get into ...
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What verb construction would you use?

Imagine you go down to the station at noon to meet your friend Mike there. You sit there and wait and wait for him to show up. Two hours later your friend finally arrives and says to you: Sorry I'm ...
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illogical sequence of tenses

Hello everyone: I was watching a documentary about Scientology when I heard the following sentence, which, I believe, contains an illogical shift in tense. “We have been hoping that someone would have ...
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1 vote
2 answers
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Consecutio modorum: Do “that” clauses follow an irreal subjunctive in the parent clause?

Does English have a “sequence of moods” rule? Should the blanks be filled in by was or were? If we knew that it ___ raining, we would also know that the street ___ wet. That is, are the irreal ...
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Can “was not ᴠᴇʀʙing” and “will not ᴠᴇʀʙ” ever be exact equivalents in reported speech? [closed]

Do English speakers understand this sentence: I told him I wasn’t playing soccer anymore. Exactly as they would this sentence: I told him I will not play soccer anymore. If so, why would they ...
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What does the sentence "People felt that the cyclist was performing at a surprisingly high level." become in the passive? [closed]

This is a (one more!) question I have had to ask myself when dealing with the passive structure "someone is said to do/be doing/have done something"... which definitely is a tricky structure ...
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First Conditional sentence with would

Grammatically, when we construct a first conditional sentence, the if-clause is followed by a result clause with a "will" in it. However, in many formal texts written by native English ...
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Sequence of Moods (Subjunctive)

I asked a question a while ago ("If I asked, would she say it were/was time?" Past Vs. Subjunctive) about “sequence of moods” whose top answer read, Fowler says the past simple is used in ...
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2 answers
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The sequence of uses tenses in complex or compound Sentence

The head of the audit is so obtuse that he had no inkling that funds were being ingenuously diverted. My first question is, are there any grammatical mistakes in the sentence above, except spelling ...
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3 answers
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Will and would modal verbs [closed]

Which of the following sentences is correct? If both are correct, what is the difference in meaning between these two sentences? A majority of voters approved changes to Russia’s Constitution that ...
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1 answer
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Tense Inconsistency (Past Simple and Present Perfect) or wrong Sequence of Tenses (Present tense follows Past tense)?

In the following sentence, the Present Perfect in the second clause sounds a little off to me, yet I cannot put my finger on WHY that is. During this time (Subord. Clause 1), I was able to gain/ I ...
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277 views

Modal Verbs and Sequence of Tenses

Should the clause “I would/should think” be followed by another also in the past, according to the rules of tense sequence? I should think he was here [I think he is here now]. I should think the ...
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1 vote
1 answer
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It was I or it is I (or both since it is just a matter of perspectives)

This confusion has been haunting me since I was fifteen. Please consider the following: A. It was I who killed your mom. B. It is I who killed your mom. Question: As far as I know, we can apply two ...
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1 answer
101 views

Switching from have been to current tense in a sentence

While working on a project with a friend, we stumbled upon a grammatical problem. These use cases have been modeled and help convey the game’s primary gameplay. I'm uncertain whether or not it's ...
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1 answer
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Problems on the sequence of tenses

I feel really confused with the sequence of tenses sometimes. I am trying to explain where my problem is. Suppose, I have three different sentences which I want to express in two sentences. 1) I ...
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0 votes
1 answer
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Future perfect/simple future/present perfect

Please consider the following: They will report to me what they will have known/will know/have known. Which one is right if the context is they will report to me after they know it
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2 votes
0 answers
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Why is "were" used in the highlighted relative clause?

Thank you for taking interest in this question. I have attached below the context of the clause in question to help your understanding. A full version of the question would be: Why were, instead of ...
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1 answer
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Cloze Passage - Grammar (Sequence of Tenses)

There is this sentence in my Grammar Cloze passage: Though I started off reasonably well, soon I felt my legs ___________(ache) badly. Should I answer "ache" or "aching"? The correct answer is "...
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2 answers
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"How did your life change if you have as much money as Bill Gates?" Is this sentence correct?

I am a teacher of English in Japan. I happened to see a weird sentence from a notebook of my student. It says, "How did your life change if you have as much money as Bill Gates?" And my fellow ...
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Wanted to make sure you “had” or “have” what you need to make a start [closed]

Would you be able to explain which one is grammatically correct, or whether both can be grammatically correct depending on the context?
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1 answer
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Conditional in the past: using present or preterit?

A person is talking using past tense, because he is talking about events that happened in the past. Which one is correct? They might come after me if they found out that Kudo Shinichi was still alive ...
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1 vote
2 answers
106 views

“Thanksgiving was in four days”: something sounds funny!

Can you tell me if this sentence is correct? Here it is, in context (bold emphasis added): ...mother and sister to let them know she was deploying. Thanksgiving was in four days, and Peyton had a ...
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1 vote
0 answers
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A specific example about past tense in subordinate clause

I've read several posts about "main clause past tense, can I use simple present tense in the subordinate clause?" and I think I get the basic idea. General truth can use present. He didn't know ...
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Was or is or both? A line from the Prologue to The Canterbury Tales

"He was as fresh as is the month of May". The above is the 94th line from 'The Canterbury Tales: General Prologue'. Questions: Why are 'was' and 'is' in the same line/sentence? If it is taken as ...
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16 votes
7 answers
917 views

How did “to wish that” come to hate the present tense in the subordinate clauses it governs, and why is it alone in this?

Inspired by this earlier question, I've realized that we have no canonical question addressing the stranglely one-of-a-kind special grammatical rules demanded by the verb wish of its subordinate ...
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1 answer
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What are the tenses in this sentence?

I'd like to break this sentence down to its components and their tenses, but I'm struggling. How would you explain it? “I think we thought it would be easier” Thanks!
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1 vote
2 answers
830 views

He wished he would have met her

I do know that the much better construction is "he wished he had met her a year before", but is the construction "he wished he would have met her a year before" acceptable?
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1 answer
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Changing tense from present perfect to simple past without time reference

This is a translation of a web article. In the first two sentences, the present perfect tense is used as there is no time frame when in the past the launch took place or the quotes were said. The ...
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1 vote
2 answers
850 views

Past Hypothesis vs Past Condition

I know the title might look confusing, so I would like to explain it in detail here. As far as I know, we can use past perfect construction when referring to a situation that didn't happen in the ...
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1 answer
2k views

Double present perfect in a compound sentence [closed]

I have two questions concerning the use of the present perfect tense twice in a compound sentence: a. He has accused John of the crime and provided evidence for it. b. He has accused John of ...
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1 vote
1 answer
68 views

Present perfect and reported speech

I would like to understand the following (because Google returns suspiciously low number of records for this form): A: I saw him there. B (joins the conversation): Hey, have you seen John ...
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Is there any suitable answer among these options?

I have just seen this questions in an exercise book for high school students. And l am not sure if the options are really suitable. I haven't seen my cousin in England for five years. I'm sure she......
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