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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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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
57 votes
5 answers
14k views

Why can't the word "can" be used in future tense (will can)?

I'm curious about why the English word can cannot be used in future tense (e.g. will can). An example unrelated to English is French term je pourrai, but that's exactly what I mean. Compare German ...
iBug's user avatar
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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
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47 votes
6 answers
8k views

Please, don't - I'm not

“Please, don't mock me.” “Oh, no, I don't! I’m not! I'm completely serious about that.” This is a correction I received from a proofreader of my story. How does that work? What happens here so ...
SF.'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" ...
user avatar
39 votes
6 answers
124k views

Why do we say "I win" instead of "I won"?

For a long time I was wondering why there is I win instead of I won. I met such usage in a lot of games and movies. For me, it's logical to say I won, because this winning action is done already. I ...
arteg's user avatar
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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
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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
28 votes
2 answers
19k views

How do you conjugate Early Modern English verbs (other than present tense)?

I was wondering how one might conjugate verbs in early modern English in various tenses. I am aware of the fact that for second person and third person singular specifically, the verb endings are -est ...
NoobTwinz5's user avatar
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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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
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
26 votes
1 answer
307k views

Using "have ran" or "have run"

I was editing a piece recently and saw this structure "Once you have ran the process, you ..." I have always used "have run", but wasn't sure if "have ran" is acceptable in modern English. If it ...
way0utwest's user avatar
25 votes
10 answers
26k views

Can anyone give me a grammatical explanation as to why "that being said" is proper English?

A certain pedant is claiming that beginning a sentence with "That being said" is grammatically incorrect owing to the apparent logical contradiction in claiming that something in the past (e....
Heinrich Moltke's user avatar
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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22 votes
3 answers
4k views

Why is this sentence from The Great Gatsby grammatical?

There's a bird on the lawn that I think must be a nightingale come over on the Cunard or White Star Line. According to my very limited knowledge, shouldn’t it be "which came over" in place ...
rain soupreme's user avatar
22 votes
5 answers
12k 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 ...
Phrogz's user avatar
  • 496
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
21 votes
5 answers
8k views

"I am tired and doing my homework." Is it grammatically correct?

Is the sentence in the title absolutely grammatically correct? I recently had an argument with a fellow student, and he said that the sentence is incorrect. I do not think he is right, because I saw ...
Mitsuko's user avatar
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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
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
18 votes
9 answers
7k views

Referring to past times with "hence"

From Tor.com, an interesting use of the word hence: Minutes ago, J.K. Rowling finally announced her plans behind Pottermore, the mysterious website that appeared a week hence with only a “Coming ...
JSBձոգչ's user avatar
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18 votes
5 answers
165k 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"?
brilliant's user avatar
  • 8,988
18 votes
3 answers
480k views

'I would be grateful if you ...' or 'I will be grateful ...'?

What is the difference between "I would be really grateful" and "I will be really grateful"? In particular, which one should be followed with "could"? I mean like this "I would be really grateful if ...
Someone's user avatar
  • 347
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
16 votes
7 answers
36k views

What is the correct present continuous form of "thunder" and "lightning"?

While describing monsoon conditions, what is the correct way to describe the ongoing action of thunder and lightning flashes? It is thundering It is lightning Are the above sentences correct?
Sparx's user avatar
  • 433
16 votes
3 answers
119k views

"Being ran", "being runned" or something else? [closed]

The past tense of run is ran. However, you couldn't say something was being "ran" poorly i.e. the business was ran poorly. However, saying "runned" would be wrong as well. What would be the word to ...
Thursagen's user avatar
  • 42k
15 votes
3 answers
59k views

Using "will" after "if"

I've been told that native-speakers don't ever use "will" after "if", and that saying it this way is a not-native style. So from the film (Harry Potter, pt5) I noticed a line that confused me. Look ...
Nick's user avatar
  • 167
15 votes
2 answers
2k views

Which form of a verb should I normally use after "what you have done is"?

Which form of a verb should I normally use after "what you have done is"? Should it be present participle (option A), past participle (option B) or a base form (option C) : A. I wanted you to clean ...
brilliant's user avatar
  • 8,988
14 votes
4 answers
987 views

Is "How and why child is become criminal" proper English?

My friend is writing a paper for his Criminal Justice class and has asked me to take a look the the rough draft and point out any grammatical errors that I can spot. The first thing that jumped at ...
Gaby's user avatar
  • 143
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
  • 709
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
14 votes
8 answers
15k views

“will have seen yesterday”

This is a part of a sentence: As many of you will have seen yesterday, . . . What does it mean? The words will and yesterday seem to be in contradiction. Is that a correct sentence?
Max's user avatar
  • 1,277
14 votes
2 answers
275k 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 ...
Vaibhav Sharma's user avatar
14 votes
2 answers
85k views

How to use "have been —ing"

I know the present perfect continuous is used for activity which has stopped recently or now. When it combines with for, since, or how long an activity is done, it means the activity is still ...
user avatar
14 votes
3 answers
90k views

"It would be better if you drink/drank all the water" [duplicate]

Which one of the following is grammatically correct? It would be better if you drink all the water. It would be better if you drank all the water. The question is, obviously, about the use of ...
Andrea Sindico'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
13 votes
4 answers
147k 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 ...
language hacker's user avatar
13 votes
2 answers
846k views

I sent ... vs. I have sent ... vs. I had sent you an email already [closed]

Which of the following sentences are correct? If all of them are correct, what are their different meanings? I sent you an email already. I have sent you an email already. I had sent you an email ...
user1187968's user avatar
13 votes
4 answers
1k views

What tense is appropriate when a group includes alive and dead people?

In a recent article, I was comparing the atheism of Joseph Stalin, Ayn Rand, and Christopher Hitchens. Which of the following sentences would have been appropriate to describe them? All three believe ...
Shea Levy's user avatar
  • 233
13 votes
4 answers
2k views

Irregular verbs in English - why do so many end in D?

This might just be availability bias on my part, but it seems to me that if a verb ends is a "d" sound then it's a lot more likely to have an irregular past tense than an average verb picked out at ...
Matthew Cline's user avatar
12 votes
4 answers
10k views

Why past tense in 'I got this'?

I came across the phrase 'I got this' in an episode of 'How I Met Your Mother'. In the episode, Robin kept saying 'I got this' whenever something came up that needs dealing with. I guess it means '...
Betty's user avatar
  • 1,134
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
  • 217
12 votes
3 answers
149k views

"Lept" vs. "leapt" vs. "leaped"

After reading this discussion, I'd like to know what example sentences distinguish the meaning of the words lept, leapt, and leaped from each other?
Dave Jarvis's user avatar
12 votes
5 answers
118k views

"If I didn't have" vs. "if I hadn't had"

Can someone please tell me if these sentences are correct? I prefer number one. Here I am trying to talk about a past condition that didn't actually happen because the person had the example sentences ...
Tatti Bella's user avatar
12 votes
4 answers
2k views

What exactly is tense?

As far as I've been able to figure out, tense refers to a grammatical category corresponding to the semantic category 'time reference'. So far, so good. But then there is complete confusion. Some seem ...
Hannah's user avatar
  • 594
12 votes
3 answers
18k views

Highlit vs Highlighted, Lit vs Lighted

Most dictionaries seem to indicate that highlighted is the past tense for highlight, rather than highlit. However, we use lit as the past tense for light without reservation, with lighted appearing ...
NWard's user avatar
  • 221
11 votes
6 answers
33k views

"If I knew you're coming I wouldn't have come"

Is the statement If I knew you're coming I wouldn't have come correct? Should we use If I had known you're coming, I wouldn't have come instead? Please consider American-British differences.
Bassel Alkhateeb's user avatar

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