Ok, I should say:

  1. You should make your bed after you wake up.


  1. You should make your bed after you woke up.


  1. You should make your bed after you have woken up.

In case 1, the waking-up action happened before "make the bed", but English doesn't have "past in the future" tense though we do have "future in the past" tense (was going to do....)

In case 2, you broke the universe because the "waking up" action did not exist at the time of saying.

In case 3, but we do have future perfect tense in English. However, we are not allowed to use future perfect after time clause but present perfect tense. So we cannot say "you should make your bed after you will have woken up", but we can say "you should make your bed after you have woken up".

So, which one to use?


1 Answer 1


In sentence 1, both verbs, make and wake, are in the present tense, but in English the tense (i.e., the verb form) doesn't always refer to the obvious part of the timeline. Here you might reasonably expect the current time, but this usage talks about a rule that's true in general. You should have made your bed when you were a kid, you should be making it now, and you should make it for the foreseeable future. (At all times, after you're awake, of course.) This is sometimes called the enduring present tense.

In sentence 2, the normative aspect (the "ought to", the should) still expresses the general rule, but woke (the past tense of wake) conflicts with that rule since woke is confined to past action. This makes the sentence ungrammatical. If you want to keep the waking in the past, then you have to transpose the bedmaking to the past as well:

2a. You should have made your bed after you woke up.

Of course, that's not a general admonition; it's about just that time after you woke up.

So why does 3 work, with the waking in the present perfect (have woken)? The clue is in the name. The "perfect" means that the verb speaks about completed action, and the "present" means that the action takes places at any time up to the present or that it affects the present. That necessary reference to the present is missing in the simple past in sentence 2.

  • A great answer. Thanks! Commented Apr 15, 2021 at 23:04

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