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13 votes

Can “was not ᴠᴇʀʙing” and “will not ᴠᴇʀʙ” ever be exact equivalents in reported speech?

The short answer is that no, they do not mean the same thing. The first with an inflection of the progressive construction be playing is a simple statement of the evidentiary future, but the second ...
tchrist's user avatar
  • 135k
12 votes
Accepted

how many conditional sentence types are possible?

Last time I counted them, I found two hundred and seventy-seven English conditionals. There are of course others. See this answer for details. I: If he will jump, you will not have to. ...
tchrist's user avatar
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6 votes
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How did “to wish that” come to hate the present tense in the subordinate clauses it governs, and why is it alone in this?

You asked quite a few questions. Here is an attempt at providing answers to a portion of them. 1. Is this something new or something old? Has it always worked this way in English even before the ...
linguisticturn's user avatar
5 votes

"How did your life change if you have as much money as Bill Gates?" Is this sentence correct?

There are two issues: Tense agreement and construction of a conditional. The first sentence is not correct because there is not tense agreement between the verbs “did...change” (past tense) and “have”...
Damila's user avatar
  • 2,080
5 votes
Accepted

Can “was not ᴠᴇʀʙing” and “will not ᴠᴇʀʙ” ever be exact equivalents in reported speech?

This is reported speech, where we backshift tenses. Backshifting happens when a verb tense is shifted back to a past form in reported speech. What was said by John: "I am hungry." In ...
Michael Harvey's user avatar
5 votes
Accepted

Does "could" always mean something less likely than "can", even in backshifted subordinate clauses?

Could is not always less likely than can. Nor is it more likely. It isn't always anything; it's not that simple. In all of the above examples, it can (or, if you prefer, could) indicate less ...
John Lawler's user avatar
4 votes

Unsure about sequence of tenses in the following example

Your intuition is right. There is no grammatical requirement of tense agreement between the main clause and its dependent clause. In each clause, you simply choose the tense which conveys the intended ...
MetaEd's user avatar
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3 votes
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What's the difference between “(Had he not made / If he didn't make) a good impression, he wouldn't be a star today”?

The short answer is that you are right to question the workbook's black-and-white logic. Both versions could be generated by native speakers, but the first probably sounds better and means something a ...
tchrist's user avatar
  • 135k
3 votes

"Now is the time" followed by past tense verb

I am a US speaker—my native dialect is southern—and Mr. Corbyn employs this construction in the only way familiar to me, with the verb in its past form: It's time we went home. It's ...
StoneyB on hiatus's user avatar
3 votes

Keeping a sentence in the same tense

I think if "he" is still currently hungry, then it's acceptable to phrase it that way. What did he say? He said he is hungry.
DerpDevil's user avatar
  • 284
3 votes
Accepted

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

It's quite hard to say in any particular case that it's wrong to use the past simple rather than the past perfect. For cases (1) and (2), I would say that the tenses the writers chose are the most ...
Peter Shor 's user avatar
3 votes

How did “to wish that” come to hate the present tense in the subordinate clauses it governs, and why is it alone in this?

TaliesinMerlin's answer seems to be the bee's knees ("business"). No etymological-historical answers here (sorry), no bounty sought. Just deeply intrigued by this verb, for the first time in my life, ...
mike rodent's user avatar
3 votes

How did “to wish that” come to hate the present tense in the subordinate clauses it governs, and why is it alone in this?

This answer will describe the historical context for the verb to wish and what forms the main verb in the subordinate clause following wish can take. Indo European, Greek, and Latin First, Indo ...
TaliesinMerlin's user avatar
3 votes

“Thanksgiving was in four days”: something sounds funny!

It’s not a pre­cise com­par­i­son, but let’s con­sider, for a mo­ment, the “plu­per­fect” con­struc­tion. I had taken a shower when the door­bell rang. Com­pare to the past tense: I took a shower. ...
Stephen R's user avatar
  • 424
3 votes
Accepted

Verb tense consistency in a sentence

Your question may be based on a misunderstanding of a 'rule' that was poorly or not fully explained. It is unusual to shift the tense from one clause or sentence to the next in a narrative. But in ...
Shoe's user avatar
  • 33.1k
2 votes

What tense should I use in the following case?

The first one is correct. In response to Karma's comment, it's fine to use full stops (periods) because each of those is a complete and functional sentence. Writers sometimes choose to use a series ...
EditingFrank's user avatar
  • 1,879
2 votes

Can we mix tenses in the same paragraph?

If you want to say that a sequence {A, B, C} occur in order, you use the same tense. So if the sequence is {shock, kill, enter} then all three should be present tense. However, if one of the items ...
Steve Cooper's user avatar
2 votes

Do I use "were", "was", or "is"?

No, the third form is the normal one, and does not imply a reference to an earlier time (that would be "I asked him if he had been well"). The other two are both, at best, dubious. "I asked him if ...
Colin Fine's user avatar
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2 votes

Why “hadn’t gone” and not “didn’t go”?

Most grammar books try to explain the English tenses as if they were mathematical formulas - there's correct and there's not. The problem is that the English tenses (and the English grammar, in ...
David Haim's user avatar
2 votes

Why is “had” ok in “What he had just said, especially that final sentence, really enlightened me”?

It is correct because "had said" is the past perfect, which is the best use for the intended meaning. "Has said" would be the present perfect. The perfect aspect focuses on the result of the action ...
Toby 1 Kenobi's user avatar
2 votes

Series of consecutive actions

Someone else has (I think) provided the same answer I am about to offer. This is a challenging question with a subtlety. Suppose your intent is to tell the reader what you typically do each day. Then ...
expos4ever's user avatar
2 votes
Accepted

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

No, there is no reason to use "had" instead of "have," at least if this is the complete context. The tenses are perfectly fine: The show was: Naturally, the show has finished, and ...
Azor Ahai -him-'s user avatar
2 votes

Can you use present tense and past tense in the same sentence?

There is an incorrect assumption in the question. Someone seems to have promulgated a rule saying that you can't use present tense and past tense in the same sentence. This is not true -- indeed, it'...
John Lawler's user avatar
2 votes

"Now is the time" followed by past tense verb

"It’s time + subject + past verb form" can be used to refer to the present moment, which is the case here I think.
ttngx's user avatar
  • 21
2 votes
Accepted

Sequence of tenses with "told" and "said"

The sequence of tenses is also called backshift. It is better to regard it as a common usage rather than a rule to be applied in all cases. As The Oxford Dictionary of English Grammar (p45) states in ...
Shoe's user avatar
  • 33.1k
2 votes
Accepted

"she was gone" vs "she had gone"

First, there is a difference between the state of being gone (she was gone) and an action completed in the past (she had gone). To see the difference, just add a destination: By the time I got to ...
KarlG's user avatar
  • 28.2k
2 votes

Can I say "all you had to do is"?

You certainly “can” say any of these: All you have to do is take out the trash. All you had to do was take out the trash. All you had to do is take out the trash. It’s easy to find examples of all ...
tchrist's user avatar
  • 135k
2 votes
Accepted

Time frame Past Perfect and Past Simple in 1 sentence

I've been a teacher of English for 40 years, and very often I illustrate the use of these two tenses with similar sentences. Your example is correct as it shows the proper chronology of the events. ...
user307254's user avatar
  • 5,503
2 votes

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

(1) When you are unsure about a past perfect tense, try shifting to present perfect, and adjusting the rest of the sentence accordingly. Let's shift "he had heard" to "he has heard.&...
aparente001's user avatar
  • 21.6k

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