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Questions tagged [tenses]

A set of forms taken by a verb to indicate the time and/or completeness and continuance of the action in relation to the time of the utterance.

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187 votes
7 answers
79k views

How do the tens­es and as­pects in English cor­re­spond tem­po­ral­ly to one an­oth­er?

Non-na­tive speak­ers of­ten get con­fused about what the var­i­ous tens­es and as­pects mean in English. With in­put from some of the folk here I've put to­geth­er a di­a­gram that I hope will pro­...
Robusto's user avatar
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23 votes
7 answers
5k views

"He didn't know where New Jersey was"

I know the past tense carries the past tense in every dependent clause, but referring specifically to places or to things that are eternal, like the Earth, seems a bit weird and therefore we sometimes ...
sombe's user avatar
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20 votes
1 answer
119k views

Which is correct: "has died" or "died"?

To me, using Present Perfect form means the event can occur again. So, saying someone has died may not be grammatically correct. Also, I noticed (it might be just coincidence): passed away ...
Igor Turman's user avatar
7 votes
2 answers
19k views

Present perfect for past action with present effect

If I seem tired, can I say: "I haven't slept last night"? If not, why have I been told that we use present perfect for actions that have present effects?
Noah's user avatar
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40 votes
6 answers
34k views

Is it acceptable to use "is become" instead of "has become"?

In the King James version of the Bible there is a verse like this: The Lord is my strength, and my fortress, and my song. And He is become my salvation. Is it still feasible to use "is become" ...
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120 votes
11 answers
115k views

How many tenses are there in English?

Do we have 16 tenses in English? With future present past future in the past in these forms simple continuous perfect perfect continuous Can we manipulate these together to create English tenses? ...
Mohammad Rafiee's user avatar
59 votes
6 answers
188k views

When do I use "can" or "could"?

When should I use can? When should I use could? What is right under what context?
Ramprasad Prabhakar's user avatar
9 votes
4 answers
4k views

Tense change: previous actions on something that's currently true

I'm describing a situation that happened in the past. To explain it, I want to use a description that is both true now and true when the situation happened. Specifically, I want something like: ...
Craig Walker's user avatar
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5 votes
1 answer
1k 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 ...
NotImplemented's user avatar
8 votes
0 answers
7k views

Past tense or present tense to describe something that 'happened in the past' but is still true? [duplicate]

For example: "Last week, I found out that NASA stands for 'National Aeronautics and Space Administration.'" or "Last week, I found out that NASA stood for 'National Aeronautics and Space ...
Blake Mulvihill's user avatar
11 votes
1 answer
16k views

How to correctly use the present perfect tense

This link states that: When you use the present perfect tense you have to be talking about a period of time that you still consider to be going on. For example, if it’s still morning, you can say, &...
Anderson Silva's user avatar
14 votes
8 answers
33k views

"I didn't know you liked her" or "I didn't know you like her"

I have a friend who insists that "I didn't know you like her" is more correct than "I didn't know you liked her" if the liking is still taking place. But to my ear, only the latter sounds ...
user7626's user avatar
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5 votes
2 answers
7k views

Why do we use the base form of verbs instead of the past form in past tense questions?

In regard to this answer, my question is similar but that answer is not clear. I want to know why we use base form of verb, e.g. 'go' to form the past tense instead of past form such as 'went'? ...
user102341's user avatar
26 votes
6 answers
39k views

Future tense in conditional clauses

All the textbooks I have ever come across during the course of my studying English emphasize that future tense should not be used in conditional clauses. For example, If it rains in the evening, we ...
Armen Ծիրունյան's user avatar
12 votes
2 answers
229k views

When to use "has lived" vs. "lived" vs. "had lived"

Jim has lived there. Jim lived there. Jim had lived there. Are there any differences? When do I use one or the other? I'm trying to teach this to a foreign person and am having a hard time.
J82's user avatar
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8 votes
2 answers
9k views

Using past tense when referencing a still-true fact [duplicate]

In the sentence: "I didn't know she had a son," Can I say "I didn't know she has a son" instead, because he is a teenager now? Or are both correct?
user avatar
3 votes
5 answers
8k views

past simple vs past perfect [duplicate]

My question might seem to be stupid enough, it's basic grammar, I believe; however, I'm at my wits' end. Should we use Past perfect or Past Simple in the following sentence: He promised/ had ...
matrixx's user avatar
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11 votes
3 answers
7k views

Proper way to add tense to acronyms, abbreviations and initialisms

What is the correct way to pluralize an acronym? asked about pluralising acronyms, abbreviations and initialisms, but is there a standard way to add verb endings e.g. -ing and -ed (what are these ...
Gnubie's user avatar
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8 votes
6 answers
37k views

"Have got" — verb form and tense

In the following sentence, what is the main verb and in what tense does it occur? I have got a car. There are two possible explanations that I can think of: get as the main verb in the present ...
Dušan Rychnovský's user avatar
3 votes
1 answer
1k views

Past Perfect and Past Simple in AmE

I've recently been told that Past Perfect and Past Simple tenses are interchangeable in AmE. I know that it is possible to use the Past Simple tense instead of the Present Perfect one in AmE but have ...
Igor Skoldin's user avatar
2 votes
2 answers
14k views

"I have to" vs. "I must"

When would you use the following? I have to go the market. I must go to the market. I need to go to the market. If I replace 'have' with 'had' would you have any other way to say it? E.g. I had to ...
user963241's user avatar
0 votes
0 answers
31 views

Is it idiomatic to shift from present progressive to present simple within single sentence? [duplicate]

One of my friends while writing a passage wrote the following sentence that contained both present progressive and present simple tense within a single sentence: Road accidents are happening because ...
Ahmed's user avatar
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27 votes
2 answers
3k views

Whose tense is it, anyway?

I have questions which perhaps should be posted to Linguistics.SE; but since my primary concern is to discover what terminology in discussing English grammar and usage on ELU (and in similar contexts),...
StoneyB on hiatus's user avatar
36 votes
5 answers
357k views

What is the difference between "Have you seen this?" and "Did you see this?" [closed]

What's the difference between these two phrases?
Max's user avatar
  • 1,277
21 votes
5 answers
99k views

Why is the past tense used in "I was wondering if you would like to come for dinner?" and "Did you want to go to the cinema tonight?" [duplicate]

Why isn't the present tense used? I am wondering if you would like to come for dinner. Do you want to go to the cinema tonight?" seem more felicitous, but the versions couched in the past are ...
LeafGlowPath's user avatar
  • 1,333
17 votes
2 answers
766k views

When do we use “had had” and “have had”? [duplicate]

I have seen several sentences in English where some writers have written had twice in a row. I am a bit confused about when the grammar calls for using had had. For example: I had had my car ...
Md Kutubuddin Sardar's user avatar
10 votes
6 answers
51k views

Is it correct to say "What was your name?"?

Is it correct to say "What was your name?"? The reason I am asking this is, generally the name of the person will not change. One should say "What is your name?" http://variationsonnormal.com/2010/...
Rakesh Juyal's user avatar
6 votes
5 answers
128k views

"Will graduate" vs. "will be graduated" vs. "is going to graduate"

Which of the following sentences are correct? He will graduate in May. He will be graduated in May. He is going to graduate in May. Issue 1: Is the second one grammatical? Issue 2: There ...
Danial's user avatar
  • 741
4 votes
3 answers
577 views

Should we use past tense in "Lugo admitted he is the father"?

In this sentence, should the is be a was? On April 13, 2009, Lugo admitted he is the father of a child conceived with Viviana Carrillo.
LeafGlowPath's user avatar
  • 1,333
28 votes
3 answers
5k views

When did periphrastic tenses stop being tenses?

English sometimes has several different ways of expressing the same thing. For example, it can form a possessive either by using an old case inflection: The dog’s tail was always wagging. Or it can ...
tchrist's user avatar
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21 votes
12 answers
13k views

Can "would" be used twice in an English conditional sentence and still be grammatical?

I know how conditional if clause sentences work. I'm aware of the rules which I have to follow. However, I sometimes use would after would which of course is incorrect in terms of grammar. Is there ...
Eugen Sunic's user avatar
13 votes
8 answers
189k views

"Forgot" vs "Forget" [closed]

Is the following correct, or is there more to it? "I forgot his name" — I knew his name, but I forgot it. "I forget his name" — I keep forgetting his name. Where using "forget" basically means that ...
Alec's user avatar
  • 233
8 votes
4 answers
17k views

What tense to use for a dead person's permanent contributions?

Which one is correct: Edison was the inventor of the light bulb. Edison is the inventor of the light bulb. When writing or speaking about Edison, it's correct to state that "he was an inventor", but ...
Christoffer Lette's user avatar
8 votes
3 answers
20k views

What (grammatical) tense to use when doing reference in a paper?

For example, A published a paper with title B in 2000. Then, in my paper: A says / said that [C works / worked out perfectly]. and B illustrates / illustrated that [C works / worked out ...
user avatar
5 votes
2 answers
46k views

Is it correct to say "We start tomorrow"? Shouldn't it be "We are starting tomorrow"? (present simple vs continuous for future event)

Here's an example of a short conversation between me and a native speaker via text messages: A: I'm so exited for this app B: Yeah, me too A: We start tomorrow B: OK Shouldn't it be "We are ...
Dmitry's user avatar
  • 253
4 votes
2 answers
2k views

Between Present Perfect and Simple Past, which tense indicates a finished action?

When one uses simple past tense for some action, does it imply that the action is complete? For instance, when you say “I wrote my article yesterday,” does this imply that at this moment you have a ...
Max's user avatar
  • 1,277
2 votes
3 answers
6k views

When do I use present perfect tense instead of the simple past? [duplicate]

I've finished my work. I finished my work. When do I use one or the other?
J82's user avatar
  • 217
55 votes
3 answers
397k views

Simple Past vs. Present Perfect: "was" vs. "has been" [duplicate]

Possible Duplicate: “Did it close” vs “Has it closed”? As a English non-native speaker it is difficult for me to understand when I must use present perfect or past simple ...
utxeee's user avatar
  • 2,425
9 votes
2 answers
49k views

“Has been” vs. “was”

Should one use has been or was in the following sentence, and why? For many years the USA has been a British colony. For many years the USA was a British colony.
misho's user avatar
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7 votes
4 answers
47k views

Tenses after "as if"

"I'll always remember this rule as if I had just learned it" Do you consider this sentence grammatically correct? The main clause refers to the future, so I guess that the Past Simple would convey ...
Desert's user avatar
  • 338
6 votes
4 answers
82k views

I lived vs I used to live

I cannot see any difference between these two sentences. I assume both express the same but what is the difference? I thought that "used to" is used to describe an action that was happening in the ...
Pietro's user avatar
  • 1,407
6 votes
2 answers
61k views

Should I say 'What I wanted to say is' or 'What I wanted to say was'?

Following Martha's advice I am splitting up a question Compound sentences, the punctuation and mooore. Let's put what I said / wrote something in the past. And now I want to elaborate some key points ...
Eugene Strizhok's user avatar
5 votes
5 answers
16k views

Is 'had have + past participle' a correct grammatical form?

It has been suggested in some quarters that had have, followed by a past participle, is a regionalism that has no place in standard English grammar. If I had have known you were coming, I would have ...
WS2's user avatar
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4 votes
6 answers
7k views

Present Perfect vs Present perfect continuous

Could you correct the comments in parentheses, please? Are they right? I have lived in Los Angeles. (A completed action; the person does not live there anymore). I have lived in Los Angeles my ...
Monica's user avatar
  • 1,320
3 votes
1 answer
3k views

Simple past or present perfect? [duplicate]

Which is preferable, simple past or present perfect, in situations like this one: I had a conversation with my friend and we planned to do something; shortly afterwards I call him back to announce the ...
midnight's user avatar
  • 231
30 votes
6 answers
21k views

Is it true that English has no future tense?

I'm a native English speaker and I consider myself to have a very competent understanding of English grammar. Recently, I have started believing that there is no future tense in English grammar. ...
user avatar
14 votes
5 answers
2k views

Version control messages: what tense?

In software engineering we use version control systems. Every time we check in modifications we usually leave a message with a summary of change. The question for me has always been: what is the most ...
mojuba's user avatar
  • 1,097
8 votes
3 answers
2k views

Is the concept of "backshifted past tense" in reported speech applicable to other types of subordinate clauses?

BACKGROUND Cambridge Grammar of the English Language has this portion regarding backshift on page 154: Backsift not confined to indirect reported speech We introduced a concept of a backshifted ...
JK2's user avatar
  • 6,583
7 votes
4 answers
260k views

"I have received" vs. "I received"

The option of using simple past vs. present perfect in situations like the following has been bothering me for quite some time. I sent you a letter a few days ago; I was wondering if you have ...
Noah's user avatar
  • 13.5k
2 votes
3 answers
5k views

Is "has died for several years" correct?

I know it is correct to say He has been dead for three years. I've learned the present perfect tense, and it's said that non-continuous verbs are allowed. Is this sentence correct as well? He ...
ymfoi's user avatar
  • 169

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