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If recent: Michael has been warned from the moment he entered the factory that Andy is a local version of a grim reaper. He was warned because everyone has worked with Andy.

My level is B1 and I can't understand this grammar structure about using tenses.

Here is what I understand: First, "has been warned". I understand this is a complete action. Second: "he entered" still understand because it is past what he did, that's why he has been warned. Third, “Andy is”. Why? What I understand is if topic is present perfect it is explained by simple past for information. But above explanation answerer used just present simple for recent action. Fourth, I understand that moment happened in the past that he was warned but in conclusion answerer used again present perfect with because.

Is that the grammar structure? I have expressed that I am B1 level and also I have never seen it before by mixing present, past simple and present perfect. I know I need to learn much more. Can I change sentence how I understand?

Michael was warned from the moment he entered the factory that Andy was a local version of a grim reaper. He was warned because everyone had worked with Andy.

Is it correct? And I ask for to explain me why answerer used mixed tenses above answer.

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  • Michael was warned the moment he entered the factory... Commented Mar 20 at 4:01
  • Thamilay, you only quoted part of my answer! I have now gone back to the original question and added some more explanation, which I hope will make my meaning clearer. Commented Mar 20 at 9:08
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    "Has been warned"=recent past up to present, "entered"=past, "is"=present (here past and present and future), "was warned"=past, "has worked"=recent past up to present. The order of events is (1) entered factory (2) warning (3) the present. Andy is the same throughout.
    – Stuart F
    Commented Mar 20 at 10:33
  • Your context is a slightly tricky one, but the general principle should be always use the simplest possible verb form. That's why my first comment proposed Simple Past for ...was warned the moment he entered... For much the same basic reason (Present Perfect is simpler than Past Perfect), in the final sentence, I'd use He was warned because everyone has worked with Andy unless the entire narrative is set well in the past. Perhaps Michael has left the factory by the time this background story is being told, and/or there are now new people there who never worked with Andy. Commented Mar 20 at 11:22
  • Where does that sentence come from?
    – Lambie
    Commented Mar 22 at 21:15

2 Answers 2

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The example, from the linked question, is one that mixes many tenses, and has a few oddities. It's perfectly okay to mix tenses in one sentence; we just have to make sure that it still makes sense.

The biggest problem with your proposed change is that it changes the tense of the whole story. Many stories are told in past tense:

Sam walked down the street and saw a dog. "Look," he said, "that dog is brown!"

Overall, the narrative is in the past tense. Sam uses a present tense verb because he's experiencing these events as "his present," but the writer uses past tense.

It's less common, but there are still quite a few books that use a present-tense narrative:

Sam walks down the street and sees a dog.

It's the same story, but told in such a way that the writer and the reader are sharing "Sam's present" with him.

Of course, the narrator can also talk about events that came before this one, or will come after:

The next day, Sam sees the same dog that he saw before. He had thought he would never see it again, but now he suspects he will see it again tomorrow as well.

The passage about the grim reaper is even more complex; it includes reported speech, and talks about both short events and ones of long or unclear duration, as well as things that continue to be true at the time of telling the story. So it's not surprising that it's confusing. But changing the very first verb from "has been" to "was" changes the narrative tone of the story. So "is it correct"? You've represented the same events in the same order, yes, but it's only allowable if you don't mind changing the narrative voice.


To explain some of the specific questions about tenses:

“Andy is”. Why? What I understand is if topic is present perfect it is explained by simple past for information. But above explanation answerer used just present simple for recent action.

"Being a local version of a grim reaper," whatever that means, isn't an "action"; it's a description, a state of being. If this described Andy in the past, when the coworkers made their warnings, it probably still describes him today. (If it doesn't, and he's now something else, then simple present isn't appropriate. Also, in my opinion, even if Andy is still a localized angel of death, it would be okay to use simple past since we're reporting the speech of the coworkers.)

Fourth, I understand that moment happened in the past that he was warned but in conclusion answerer used again present perfect with because.

Or, to restate your question, "Why do we say 'he was warned because everyone has worked with? If the warning gets past tense, why does the working-with get present?"

Well, "has worked with" uses "has" for the same reason that "Michael has been warned" does. The story is being told in present tense. These coworkers still exist in this narrative present, and they have worked with Andy. Now, in my opinion, this sentence could have started by echoing the same tense as the first sentence and saying "Michael has been warned because...." But 1) it sounds a little awkward, and 2) it doesn't have to stick to the perfect tense. The first sentence picked present perfect ("Michael has been warned") presumably because it wants to make a point about Michael himself and his "warned" state; after all, it's narrating Michael's present existence as it unfolds.. But the second sentence is free to talk about those past warnings in the past tense, especially since we've mentioned them and established a context.

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  • You mean that 1 it could have started "Michael has been warned because everyone has worked with Andy". I accept it is awkward 2 I accept "Michael was warned," it is better.but,why only use present perfect, we can just use past simple to express coworkers worked with Andy. It would be clearer for english learners like me. It makes us confused.We also imitate "We can use past simple and present perfect with because in sentence in order not to be changed the tense for story is being told in present situation." Thats why I asked. I am afraid of wrong tense use.@Andy Bonner.
    – Thamilay
    Commented Mar 21 at 9:43
  • @Andy Bonner Can this sentence be said in the following way provided there is the author's past here? "Michael had been warned from the moment he entered the factory that Andy was a local version of a grim reaper. He was warned because everyone had worked with Andy". I suppose it to be the Past Perfect (inclusive) in "Michael had been warned from the moment he entered..." (preserving the Past Indefinite in "he entered" to forbear from the tense repetition) to draw attention to the completeness of the action, on the one hand,
    – Eugene
    Commented Mar 23 at 8:08
  • and to underline the fact that he had already been warned at the moment of the author's past, i.e. when the narration took place, on the other hand. Thank you!
    – Eugene
    Commented Mar 23 at 8:09
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Sample: If recent: Michael has been warned from the moment he entered the factory that Andy is a local version of a grim reaper. He was warned because everyone has worked with Andy.

OK, first point:

  • Michael has been warned [by the managers].

However, the tense is wrong Why? Because there is a specific timeframe: from the moment he entered the factory.

So, it should be:

And yours is much better:

  • Michael was warned from the moment he entered the factory [that is a specific moment in time and the action is finished] that Andy was a local version of a grim reaper. He was warned because everyone had worked with Andy.

There was no reason to use the present perfect there. Another reason is that it shifts the narration to the present, but NOT the present tense.

Compare: He has been warned [as of this present time as I am talking to you] but he isn't paying attention to the warning.

The present perfect used in the sample sentence but could be used in the one above this one.

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