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Can we use past tense of verb for present tense?

E.g.

a) If you finished this burger in 5 min I will give you one more.

I want to use Finished because I want to emphasis on completed action and not hypothesis. means if he did finish his burger then I will surely give him one more.

b ) If you finish this burger in 5 min I will give you one more.

Or should I simply say but this but it gives Idea of hypothesis. It also suggest his ability to finish burger. If he could able to finish it I will give him one more burger.

  • You could say “if you have finished...” – Solar Mike Mar 3 at 7:27
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+25

Finished is incorrect, you can't use past tense for present tense, but if you really meant to use past tense:

If you finished this burger in 5 minutes I would have given you one more.

So currently:

If you finish this burger in 5 minutes I will give you one more.

Is correct.

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You would use finish, because it's in the future, you're suggesting it as a possibility. It hasn't actually happened.

If you say "finished" it expresses regret:

If you had finished this burger in 5 minutes, then I would have given you more.

Otherwise, it is normal to say:

If you (can/will) finish this burger in 5 minutes, I will give you one more.

The can/will is implied, so it's more of a future tense thing here.

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Hmmm... the past tense of a verb cannot be used in place of the present tense in this case as far as I know. I agree with @bko- 'finish' is more apt, and it doesn't compromise on your emphasis on a completed action instead of a hypothetical one.

means if he did finish his burger then I will surely give him one more.

If that's what you want to convey, then perhaps something along the these lines would work:

  • If you finish your burger in 5 minutes, I'll surely/definitely/... give you one more.

  • If you finish your burger in 5 minutes, I'll give you one more, no questions asked.

Hope this helps!

  • so my sentence using Finished is incorrect? – user4084 Mar 7 at 14:17
  • Yes, as far as I know, the past tense ('finished') cannot be reconciled with the above example. Your other sentence using 'finish', however, is correct, with the small addition of a comma after the if conditional. Adding 'finished' won't make an emphasis on completed action anymore than 'finish' would. Let me know if this makes sense! :) – When The Dust Settles Mar 7 at 14:35
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Adding an answer just to, perhaps, clarify what has already been said in other answers.

Your question is 'can you use the past tense for something that will happen in the future?' The answer is 'no'. The past indicative tense indicates that something happened in the past, and that makes no sense here.

It is possible to use words which appear to indicate the past tense:

If you finished the burger, I would give you another one.

But a) there is no advantage to doing so in terms of the added emphasis you want and b) just because a verb ends in 'ed' does not inherently mean we are dealing with the past tense. The sentence is really in the subjunctive. It's an abbreviated way in essence of saying:

If you were to have finished the burger, I would be willing to give you another.

The subjunctive voice deals with uncertainty, and doesn't deal strictly with time. So we're still dealing with things in the future, even if the verb forms are in the past.

These two sentences also mean exactly the same thing:

If you finish the burger, I will give you another.

If you were to finish the burger, I would give you another.

There is no 'advantage' or difference in emphasis to any of them, and while the verb forms may superficially suggest past or present tense is being used, in fact it makes no difference, and it is the uncertainty introduced by 'if' that matters.

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The thing is, you are talking about a hypothetical. You don't know if he's going to finish the burger in 5 minutes. He might, or he might not. If you want to indicate confidence that he will, you could use when rather than if, but that would be kinda weird.

Your sentence is a perfectly valid sentence, it just doesn't mean what you want. You can say:

If you finished this burger in 5 minutes I will give you one more.

You can say that if the 5 minutes are up and he may or may not have finished the burger. The determiner this is an odd choice, as it suggests the burger still exists, but maybe you left him with the box closed, came back in 5 minutes to see if the burger is gone, with the instruction that if he didn't manage to eat it he had to leave it in the box. Then this burger would refer to the burger that may or may not be in the box.

You can talk about the future using the present tense, in English, but you can't talk about the future in the past (well, you can, but not just like that). You can talk about the present in the past, by referring to events that determine the state of things in the present. "Have you got dinner ready?" is a question in the present perfect, which is generally considered a way of talking about the past, and it could be used in place of "is dinner ready?".

Importantly, though, you don't need the past tense to make finish refer to a completed action, because using it in that way is denoting completion. You mean, of course that it depends whether they finish eating the burger, and that verb finish determines that the act of eating the burger must be complete.

You can talk about past-in-future in a couple of ways, and one of those doesn't involve overt future tense of the verb in question. There's will have, for the future perfect, of course, but "if you will have finished this burger" is not a natural way to say anything. You can, however, say:

I'll be back in five minutes, and if you've finished this burger I will give you another one.

The temporal location of the conditional is given by the first part of the sentence. Some people will criticise that, though even those criticisms largely fall away with a couple of extra words:

I'll be back in five minutes, and if you've finished this burger by that time, I will give you another one.

In fact, those clauses are independent. You can make two sentences of it, and it's fine:

I'll be back in five minutes. If you've finished this burger by then, I will give you another one.

  • After reading your and others explanation I am sure that, If you finished this burger in 5 minutes I will give you one more. is incorrect sentence construction. If it is would instad of will then I think its correct. If you finished this burger in 5 minutes I would give you one more. If conditional II type – user4084 Mar 8 at 6:56

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