- I climbed the ladder and try to grab the fruit.
- I climbed the ladder and tried to grab the fruit.
I was taught that if the first verb is a past tense, the 2 verb that follows should be in simple present tense. Is this collect?
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"I climbed the ladder and tried to grab the fruit."
That sentence is composed of two parts, and each part can be turned into a sentence by itself:
"I climbed the ladder."
"I tried to grab the fruit."
If you are talking about the past, both sentences need to be in the past tense, and when you connect them with "and", both verbs should be in the past tense.
However, the second sentence by itself ("I tried to grab the fruit.") actually has a compound verb ("tried to grab"). In this two-part combined verb, only the first part ("tried") is in the past tense. The second of the two parts ("to grab") remains in its infinitive form. This reference explains about the verb try when it has a complementary second verb attached.
If someone was explaining that, "if the first verb is a past tense, the 2nd verb that follows should be in ..." some other form, ... I wonder if that explanation might have been about the phrase "tried to grab" rather than about the entire sentence. (Just a speculation.)