So, according to all the lessons I've been watching online, they all seem to say that when talking about cause and effect, you use the past perfect continuous or past perfect.

He was tired because he had been running.

Now, what about if you start the sentence off using the present?

He's tired because he had been running.

Naturally I'd say "He's tired because he was running"

  • What exactly are you asking? Is it about past vs present tense, the sentence structure, or something else entirely? – Joe Kerr Dec 3 '20 at 23:47
  • if I must follow the exact same rule when using the present. "He's tired because he had been running." or would it be acceptable to use "Was instead"? – FalaGringo Dec 3 '20 at 23:53
  • 2
    ...because he has been running. is the best fit. – Ronald Sole Dec 3 '20 at 23:58

It is not generally incorrect to say "was running", especially if you want to express a terminated period as we don't have an adverb of time at the end of the sentence.

for example

He's tired [now] because he was running [ yesterday / earlier today etc. ]

He's tired because he has been running [all day long / over the last few hours]. ( refers and extends to the here and now )

He's tired because he had been running. ( not entirely wrong - but a little uncommon and awkward );

"was running" is fine, so is "has been running."

To answer your question, it's very helpful to add a couple of adverbs to your sentence. By doing so, you're gonna enable yourself to understand how tenses work in English.

Native speakers drop these adverbs because the meaning looks clear-cut to them.


The best fit is:

"He's tired because he's been running".

From englishpages.com

"The present perfect continuous (also called present perfect progressive) is a verb tense which is used to show that an action started in the past and has continued up to the present moment. "

He may not still be running in the present moment, but the past action is strongly connected to the present because he's still tired.

If he "was running", then the event both started and stopped in the past, and doesn't necessarily have any connection to the present. In fact, it usually has some connection to another past event.

"He was running, when he heard the explosion."

So, while the past continuous is still understandable for your example, it's probably not the ideal choice.

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