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A sentence is usually formed in one tense. But in the sentence below

So far the United States, China and Russia were the only ones who’ve reported the ability to shoot down space objects from ground or airborne sources.

The simple past and present perfect both the tenses are combined. What I think about this is--
Since the action(have reported) was performed in the past, though recent past, that is why were is used. But I can also write the same sentence as-

So far the United States, China and Russia are the only ones who’ve reported the ability to shoot down space objects from ground or airborne sources.

Would it make any difference?


The Hindu

2 Answers 2

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So far the United States, China and Russia are the only ones who’ve reported the ability to shoot down space objects from ground or airborne sources.

Yes, it does make a difference. "Were" carries the implication that the facts have changed or about to change. One might expect the next sentence to tell of another country that has developed the ability. Use of the present tense verb "are" with "So far" is stating that at the present, these two countries and these alone are known to have the ability.

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The example sentence is inconsistent with regard to tense.

It uses a present time adverb "so far" (meaning until now) with a past tense verb "were". That is not good writing. You would normally use a present tense verb phrase "are" or "have been"

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