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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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7answers
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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...
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5answers
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“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 ...
16
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1answer
87k 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 ...
7
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2answers
16k 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?
108
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11answers
102k 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? ...
53
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6answers
146k views

When do I use “can” or “could”?

When should I use can? When should I use could? What is right under what context?
36
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6answers
19k 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" ...
8
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4answers
3k 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: ...
7
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2answers
7k views

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

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 ...
4
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1answer
688 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 ...
9
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1answer
8k 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, "...
3
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2answers
6k 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'? ...
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6answers
31k 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, ...
12
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8answers
24k 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 ...
7
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2answers
5k 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?
2
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2answers
9k 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 ...
13
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2answers
150k 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.
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6answers
24k 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 ...
27
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2answers
2k 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),...
4
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3answers
515 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.
6
votes
2answers
4k views

Proper 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 ...
5
votes
5answers
93k 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 ...
12
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2answers
652k 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 ...
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3answers
4k 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 ...
18
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5answers
83k views

Why is the past tense used in “I was wondering if you would like to come for dinner?”

Why isn't the present tense used? I am wondering if you would like to come for dinner.
12
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8answers
162k views

“Forgot” vs “Forget”

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 ...
10
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6answers
26k 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/...
8
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2answers
16k 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 ...
2
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3answers
5k 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?
8
votes
4answers
11k 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 ...
31
votes
5answers
197k views

What is the difference between “Have you seen this?” and “Did you see this?”

What's the difference between these two phrases?
29
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3answers
325k 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 ...
13
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5answers
1k 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 ...
5
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2answers
45k 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 ...
3
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1answer
2k 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 ...
0
votes
2answers
820 views

When is “backshifting” optional?

In reported speech, tenses are generally backshifted. If what was said is still true at the time of reporting then back shifting is optional. My question is, if someone doesn't backshift the tense ...
2
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3answers
4k 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 ...
7
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4answers
187k 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 ...
4
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5answers
8k 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 ...
4
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2answers
968 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 ...
4
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5answers
5k views

past simple vs past perfect

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 ...
3
votes
2answers
2k views

Using “now” when talking about past events [duplicate]

The whole story is given in the past. Is the sentence in the middle of the story "But why did she wish to do it now?" grammmatically correct? Is it correct to use the Past Simple tense with the adverb ...
4
votes
6answers
5k 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 ...
2
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1answer
95 views

What verb tense do I use in this question?

I had a student ask about verb tense in the following question. "Live" is used with "the President", but I can't figure out why I don't want to add the "s". It doesn't "sound" right to me and I can't ...
9
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2answers
183k views

Was vs had been

I guess this question has been asked before, but please take a look the following sentence and tell me if there is a difference between them. When the transaction had been completed, A was still a ...
12
votes
5answers
82k views

In which cases would you say, “I am seeing” instead of “I see”?

In which cases would you say, "I am seeing" instead of "I see"?
13
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4answers
100k views

“will be able to” vs. “can”

Consider the following: He will be able to do it. He can do it. They mean the same thing, right? Can "can" replace "will be able to" in any sentence? What is the difference, if anything? Why ...
6
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3answers
529 views

Tense for an event that is about to occur as the reader reads

I came across this sentence today in a wait screen for a twitter client: Did you know that this wait is actually Twitter's fault, not ours? Is "Did" correct usage in this case? I didn't know it ...
20
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4answers
9k views

Attempt at formulating verb tenses when time travel is involved?

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy has an amusing section on the problems associated with verb tenses when time travel is involved. It has several examples which appear to be constructed for their ...
3
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4answers
2k views

Present perfect vs. Past perfect for finished actions [duplicate]

When is the perfect tense used? All examples illustrating perfect are always answer to the same question. So there is no way when I can simply said: I have written a note or I had written a ...