In the Marvin Gaye song "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" the refrain is:

Ooo I heard it through the grapevine
Not much longer would you be mine
Ooo I heard it through the grapevine
And I'm just about to lose my mind

Why not "will" instead of "would", because in this song the character is still going out with that girl? They have not broken up yet even if he thinks that it will be the end soon.


1 Answer 1


Because the tense of "would" describes a time that is in the future at the point at which he heard the words, but in the past by the time he gets round to reporting this hearing-of-the-words in the song.

EDIT -- the following is better in line with the timescales in the song:

"I will do the job in three weeks time," said your colleague to you last week.

This week you say to him, "You said you would do the job in three weeks time last time we spoke -- are we still on schedule for that?"

  • But the next sentence în the song is ' I m about to lose my mind 'so this sentence is future and I thought the other one was also future not future in the past
    – Yves Lefol
    Jun 8, 2022 at 20:26
  • @user5577 Whether the eventuality of the losing of the squeeze is future or past makes no difference on the fact that the reported sentence was in the past. Jun 8, 2022 at 22:30

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