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Sentence that needs to be corrected-

"After discussing plans for seaside vacation, Victoria realized that she likes the ocean more than Doug did."

Why does the sentence need the following correction-

"After discussing plans for seaside vacation, Victoria realized that she likes the ocean more than Doug does"?

Why is the present tense used rather than past tense?

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Both sentences could be correct in different contexts.

In the first sentence the comparison is between what Victoria presently feels and what Doug felt in the past.

In the second sentence the comparison is between Victoria's present feelings and Doug's present feelings.

The second sentence is correct because of the context.

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    It would certainly be quite normal for most native speakers to use (or at least, accept) past tense liked + did for both (to match realised). And I don't see any real problem with liked + does (first one matches realised, second one emphasises that Doug still doesn't much like the ocean, which may represent an ongoing problem for their holiday planning). – FumbleFingers Aug 6 '14 at 20:56
  • I'm curious why this answer is receiving so many downvotes. Is anything of what I've said incorrect in any way? Or is this being downvoted because an English Language Learner wouldn't need a dictionary to understand the answer? – Ross McConeghy Aug 8 '14 at 17:03
  • I haven't voted one way or the other for either the question or either of the current answers. But I would say "receiving so many downvotes" is a ridiculous overstatement, given you currently have only one downvote (which is more than balanced by two upvotes). Perhaps someone objects to your "Doug has ceased to exist". There could be many reasons for referring to his preference using past tense - the possibility that he's dead is just one of them, and not a particularly likely one at that. – FumbleFingers Aug 8 '14 at 17:20
  • @FumbleFingers good point, I've revised my answer. – Ross McConeghy Aug 11 '14 at 14:42
  • I agree that each sentence is valid. For example, the first sentence would be reasonable if Doug is her late husband. – David42 May 19 '16 at 16:14
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  1. "After discussing plans for seaside vacation, Victoria realized that she likes the ocean more than Doug did."

  2. "After discussing plans for seaside vacation, Victoria realized that she likes the ocean more than Doug does."

Your question involves the topic of backshift.

(Note: "preterite" is the same thing as a "past-tense verb form".)

ASSUMPTION: I'm assuming that, in your scene or situation, Victoria realizes that she likes the ocean more than Doug does. The rest of my post is working off this assumption.

The reason that version #1 is ungrammatical is that: once you decline to use a backshift preterite when it could be used, then you can no longer use a backshift preterite further on in the clause(s).

Both versions #1 and #2 declined to use any further possible backshift preterites when they both used the present-tense verb "likes". They could have used the backshift preterite "liked" here, because the superordinate clause itself is headed by the preterite "realized" which is enough to enable the use of backshift for the rest of the clause which includes its subordinate clauses.

That is:

  • a) Victoria realized [that she likes the ocean more than Doug does]

  • b) Victoria realized [that she liked the ocean more than Doug did]

The superordinate clause is headed by the verb "realized", which is a preterite (a past-tense verb form), and so, that means that the subordinate clause "[that she likes the ocean more than Doug does]" can now be (optionally) backshifted.

For version #a, the subordinate clause isn't backshifted. That is why the verbs "likes" and "does" are still in their original present-tense forms.

But for version #b, the subordinate clause is backshifted. And since the verb "liked" is a backshifted preterite, the option to use backshift is still available later on when the verb "does" is reached. Though, if the first verb "likes" is backshifted, then speakers will (almost) always also backshift the verb "does" -- that is, both get backshifted or neither does.

The problem with your original #1 version:

  1. "After discussing plans for seaside vacation, Victoria realized that she likes the ocean more than Doug did."

is that the last verb "does" was backshifted into "did", but the earlier verb "likes" was not backshifted. That is not allowed, not for the sense of meaning that you wanted for that sentence.

So, in summary, for your example it is usually the case that either both of those verbs are backshifted or neither are backshifted. (Your original version #2 has both not be backshifted.)

ASIDE: In today's modern fiction prose, when it uses past-tense narrative mode, it seems that writers tend to prefer to use backshifting for the subordinate clauses (e.g. version #b "that she liked the ocean more than Doug did").

NOTE: The preterite (a past-tense verb form) has three major uses: past time usage, modal remoteness usage, backshift usage. (Though, there are other uses too.)

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  • + 1 ... :) (Isn't 'modal remoteness' backshift too?) – Araucaria - Not here any more. Aug 7 '14 at 0:36
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    @Araucaria They are two different uses, and a single preterite can only fulfill one of them (only one of the three main uses). The modal preterite also has a modality meaning attached to its usage. The backshift preterite, er, it basically doesn't add anything to it that wasn't already in the original present-tense form (though, figuring out the time relation to its situation is something else). – F.E. Aug 7 '14 at 0:40

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