Questions tagged [sequence-of-tenses]

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

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16
votes
7answers
749 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 ...
9
votes
4answers
10k views

I suggested we go together / I suggested we went together. Which is the correct usage?

I am having trouble with something very specific and I found both in usage but one has to be better than the other. Right? He wanted to go back to Kazakhstan, so I suggested we go together. He wanted ...
6
votes
1answer
638 views

She may have reasoned that it 'would have been' against her own economic self interest

She may have reasoned that it would have been against her own economic self interest to disclose the worst case scenario Source My question is: In this sentence why are we using "would have been" ...
4
votes
1answer
797 views

how many conditional sentence types are possible?

I wonder how many conditional sentence types are possible. Basically, there are four main and two mixed types. By mixing tenses, it could be up to nine of them. Are the rest viable? I came across the ...
4
votes
3answers
203 views

“The show was one of the dullest we have ever seen” – tense consistency

This sentence is from a English textbook written by an English native speaker: The show was one of the dullest we have ever seen Because it used was, the sentence is talking about things in the ...
4
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1answer
2k views

Optional tense back shifting [duplicate]

While changing direct to indirect speech, we generally back shift the tense. Example - "I have finished my work." (Direct speech) He said that he had finished his work. (Indirect speech)...
3
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4answers
2k views

Tenses for two clauses joined by “if only”

Our school had won the match if only we have concentrated. Our school would have won the match if only we would have concentrated. Our school would win the match if only we had concentrated. Our ...
3
votes
2answers
290 views

“Now is the time” followed by past tense verb [duplicate]

This morning I heard Jeremy Corbyn's speech at the Labour Conference. Here is a section of that speech. Can anyone tell me what tense he is using and why? "Now is the time that government took a ...
3
votes
2answers
712 views

Sequence of tenses missing - not in Reported Speech

SITUATION: A year ago, my friend had some financial problems of which his relatives were aware. Why do we say: They believed he was in debt. but: He was believed to be in debt instead of: He was ...
3
votes
2answers
3k views

My grandma believed that the Sun “revolves” or “revolved” around the Earth? [duplicate]

We all know that universal statements are always in present tense. For example, My grandma did not believe that the Earth revolves around the Sun. Here, though the sentence is in past tense, Earth ...
3
votes
1answer
5k views

What's the difference between “(Had he not made / If he didn't make) a good impression, he wouldn't be a star today”?

How should I complete this sentence? (Only with the options given) He wouldn't be the star he is today ________ a good impression in his early life A. Had he not made B. If he didn't make ...
3
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5answers
2k views

Past Perfect - Right or Wrong?

I am in an English course, in Cambridge School, in Lisbon, Portugal, and I am learning Past Perfect. I am also in a Pastry course, and today we had our first English lesson. The teacher wrote some ...
3
votes
2answers
1k views

Should “If I ever had a philosophy” be in the past perfect?

Excerpted from The Hills of Triumph: If I ever had a philosophy with which to govern my social life, even long after learning that social is often at the detriment of personal, it would have been ...
3
votes
1answer
564 views

Tense problems : present tense or past tense?

Tense problems. Can anyone help me with the following in the book Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Chapter 11: Qudditch, page 135: (1) That's where he was going when we saw him (2) he's ...
3
votes
3answers
171 views

What type of if-conditional is: “A shop offered us a reduction if we paid in cash.”?

What type of if-conditional is this sentence? A shop offered us a reduction if we paid in cash. As far as I know, the only right conditional sentences are these four: Zero Conditional: A shop ...
2
votes
2answers
101 views

What are the real rules for choosing between the simple past and past perfect when both actions are in the past?

What are the real rules for choosing past perfect versus choosing past simple when you have two different past actions? I ask because the English sequence of tenses rules I was taught would have ...
2
votes
4answers
856 views

Why “can” not “could” in “She was one of those people who can. . . .”?

The following sentence is from George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, occurring in chapter 5 of part 2: She was one of those people who can go to sleep at any hour and in any position. Why is who ...
2
votes
2answers
51k views

past/present tense when telling a story in spoken English

I've noticed that, in daily conversations, when people are telling stories in the past, they often shift the tense back and forth between the past and the present - even they're native speakers. For ...
2
votes
2answers
363 views

Sequence of Tense [duplicate]

Which one is correct? Centuries ago, people weren't aware that the planets revolved around the sun. Centuries ago, people weren't aware that the planets revolve around the sun. In my ...
2
votes
1answer
206 views

“I told you last night, it’s finished.” - “it is” or “it was” finished? [closed]

This is from the educational serial Extra English s01 (Hector’s Arrival). Here's a part of the script. BRIDGET [reading email message] ‘Gigi!! Did you get my message? Please call me. Love, John. P.S:...
2
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1answer
3k views

I asked if he speaks/spoke English

I asked if he speaks English I asked if he spoke English Speak or spoke? Colloquially, is it correct to say speaks?
2
votes
2answers
4k views

I received an email saying documents are /were [duplicate]

I received an email saying that the documents are/were being processed. Which is correct? Are or were?
2
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1answer
511 views

Reported speech of future time clauses

How should we report sentences including "future time clause?" We will have dinner when your father gets home. Do we have to change the tense of 'future time clause' or leave it in the original ...
2
votes
1answer
74 views

Knew, realized + the past/present

Please consider the following: I knew the building (IS/WAS) thirty feet tall. They realized I (AM/WAS) his son. My question: both those clauses contain general truths. So, do I need to use ...
2
votes
1answer
56 views

Which tenses when discussing the feelings between people (in the past)?

Let's imagine the following situation: someone was once a soldier on a mission (is not anymore!) and wants to write about that period of time. He wants to talk about the feelings of the locals in the ...
2
votes
3answers
571 views

present perfect vs past perfect [closed]

What's the difference between the following examples: I noticed that the clock had stopped. I noticed that the clock has stopped. Some of them say that if the emphasis is laid on the ...
2
votes
2answers
356 views

It was unclear that she has/had painted the door

The grammar rule says that if the verb in the main clause is in the past tense then the verbs in the subordinate clauses will also be in the corresponding past tense. According to the grammar rule ...
2
votes
1answer
3k views

Can one use “may” and “might” in the same sentence?

Is it possible to use may and might in the same sentence to describe a potential outcome? For example: While Sara may recognise the car, Paul might not.
2
votes
1answer
3k views

What is the correct way to construct a conditional sentence with “would”?

I was told several times that a conditional sentence with the following structure is incorrect: If I would do this, then he would do that. Rather it should be: If I do this, then he will do ...
2
votes
2answers
2k views

Is the past tense correct in “Did you know Fred was a doctor?” [duplicate]

Possible Duplicates: He didn't know where New Jersey was… Tense change: previous actions on something that's currently true My wife and I were disagreeing about this today: ...
2
votes
1answer
1k views

When do you use “this is because” in the present tense versus “this was because” in the past tense?

I found this from a blog where the writer used this is because: Through the experience of the DSCE, I felt like my life goal had finally been achieved, but when I desperately pleaded with God to ...
2
votes
1answer
3k views

In “Who would have thought he could do it!”, does “could” mean “was able to” or “would be able to”?

In the sentence "Who would have thought he could do it!" Does "could do" mean "was able to do" or "would be able to do"?
2
votes
1answer
868 views

Whenever + tense

I was taking an English test, and the sentence was : The barrage would be used whenever an exceptional tide ... forecast. a) was b) is and I don't remember c) and d). I went for b), however ...
2
votes
1answer
216 views

Verb-tense agreement: I thought it had something to do with how you looked that day

I've had trouble with verb-tense agreement since day one of English learning. According to a lot of native speakers who have addressed this subject on several English forums, when the tenses in a ...
1
vote
1answer
3k views

present/past tense in a subordinate clause

A few days back I asked a question about whether a present tense verb in a subordinate clause can be followed by a past tense verb in the main clause. A veteran grammarian (Andrew Leach) says yes, it ...
1
vote
2answers
2k views

Combining past and future tense

I want to say that in the past I decided something that I will do in the future: Already in my bachelor years I decided that I want work at [. . .] after my master. Is want here correct, or should ...
1
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3answers
2k views

Correct use of tense

Can you please confirm which of the following three is correct? I shared some ideas with Jon, which he agrees is a good solution for the problem we are facing. I shared some ideas with Jon, ...
1
vote
2answers
691 views

What to do to control erroneous shift in verb tense?

According to Purdue OWL, the following paragraph is correct: By the time Tom notices the doorbell, it has already rung three times. As usual, he has been listening to loud music on his stereo. He ...
1
vote
2answers
516 views

Is it correct to use a past tense verb before a present tense verb like this?

Every morning right after I went to the bathroom, I tell myself In the sentence above should went and tell agree? Is above correct?
1
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2answers
96 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 ...
1
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2answers
10k views

“she was gone” vs “she had gone”

I know when Past perfect, and when two past verbs are used in a sentence. according to what I have read, when two actions or events have taken place in rapid succession, we use two verbs in the past ...
1
vote
1answer
541 views

sequence of tenses (optional and obligatory back shifting )

Consider a sentence: 1) The president learned that the earthquake has caused havoc all across the country. Here present perfect tense is used. First tell me is it correct to use 'has caused' ? I ...
1
vote
2answers
6k views

He found + present/past tense

Please advise me on this - Imagine, A and B are two friends. A says to B : "You go to Sam's room and see if Sam's sleeping." B : "Okay" ...
1
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3answers
352 views

Simple past sounds better but past perfect seems more accurate

I think it's grammatically more accurate to say,"The market was closed after a virus had been found." However, it sounds "better" to say,"The market was closed after a virus was found." Grammatically, ...
1
vote
2answers
94 views

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 ...
1
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2answers
69 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 ...
1
vote
2answers
864 views

Series of consecutive actions

Hello I have a question about sequence of tenses. This is my sentence: "I put my keys down before closing the door, head to the the kitchen and grab something to eat" My question is : shall I use ...
1
vote
2answers
346 views

Which tense do I use when giving multiple verbs?

I'm trying to say that we will test a product and make sure it works, but I don't know if I should say: "After we finish testing and making sure it works..." or "After we finish testing and make sure ...
1
vote
1answer
2k views

Can we mix tenses in the same paragraph? [duplicate]

From an Indian thriller TV show called Ssshhhh...Koi Hai Ajinkya manages to find his mother but is shocked to know she had never transformed. He managed to kill Vikrant but that wouldn’t be the end ...
1
vote
1answer
141 views

Past perfect tense vs present perfect tense usage [duplicate]

David got a message telling him that he has/had won the prize. Here which is to be used ? Has or had ?