What would you say to someone that just told you she is pregnant from the grammatical point of view?

"Really? But we have always been so careful and taken every precaution"


"Really? But we were always careful and took every precaution."


They seem both correct to me. It's useless for them to take any other precaution since she is pregnant already and that's why past simple seems correct. But at the same time present perfect seems correct too because they are still sleeping together so there'll be other times. What do you think?

1 Answer 1


Using always here is the problem. Once you use it, you can't say it is completely in the past. So use:

Really? But we have always been so careful and taken every precaution. But now it looks like we will have another child.

Without always, it is clearly in the past and impossible to change in the present. So:

Really? But we were careful and took every precaution.

is OK.

  • So if I don't use "always" in the second sentence both could be acceptable? What about this"Really?But everytime we slept/ have slept together we took/have taken any precaution."Which would you use here? Commented Jan 9, 2018 at 21:30
  • That example has to be simple past. Using "every time" is different, because it refers to specific times sleeping together, that have to be in the past given the current circumstances (it wouldn't matter now).
    – user3169
    Commented Jan 9, 2018 at 22:12

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