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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164
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7answers
56k 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...
108
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11answers
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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? ...
54
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5answers
10k 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 ...
53
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6answers
149k views

When do I use “can” or “could”?

When should I use can? When should I use could? What is right under what context?
48
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6answers
6k 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 ...
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" ...
33
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6answers
74k 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 ...
31
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5answers
201k views

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

What's the difference between these two phrases?
30
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3answers
329k 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 ...
27
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6answers
11k 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. ...
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),...
25
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2answers
11k 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 ...
24
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10answers
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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.g. the ...
24
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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 ...
23
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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, ...
21
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9answers
5k 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 ...
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 ...
19
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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.
17
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11answers
8k 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 ...
17
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7answers
3k 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 ...
17
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3answers
318k 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 ...
16
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7answers
20k 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?
16
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1answer
89k 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 ...
15
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2answers
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 ...
14
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8answers
10k 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?
13
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4answers
888 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 ...
13
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2answers
153k 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.
13
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3answers
82k 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 ...
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 ...
13
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4answers
103k 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 ...
13
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3answers
69k 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 ...
13
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4answers
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 ...
12
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8answers
25k 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 ...
12
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8answers
165k 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 ...
12
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2answers
657k 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 ...
12
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2answers
72k 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 ...
12
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5answers
85k 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"?
12
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4answers
1k 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 ...
11
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4answers
8k 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 '...
11
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1answer
111k 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 ...
10
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6answers
23k 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.
10
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6answers
27k 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/...
10
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4answers
117k 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?
10
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5answers
80k 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 ...
10
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3answers
1k views

Does “to guarantee that” require a subjunctive in its subordinate clause?

I was taught that verbs such as require (that), recommend (that) require the subjunctive in their subordinate, for instance: We asked that it be done yesterday. We require that x be positive. ...
10
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2answers
12k views

“If it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be…” What does this mean?

I'm translating a book, which involves logic and quoted the sentence from Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass: "If it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn't, it ain'...
9
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3answers
30k 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 ...
9
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6answers
26k views

What tense is “If I were a bird, I could fly”

The sentence is not referring to any time past, present of future. It's just referring to an imaginary condition which has never existed and seemingly will never exist. Still, the sentence and other ...
9
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2answers
22k views

“Will have” vs. “Would have”

By the end of the year, I would have attended this school for five years. Of course, the "most" correct way of writing this would be: By the end of the year, I will have attended this school for ...
9
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2answers
188k 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 ...