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Somewhere I read that we should not use 2 past tense words in a sentence. Which among the following two statements are correct?

  • The files did not get processed by the system.

  • The files did not get process by the system.

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    Can you edit to add a link to where you read that? – Nathan Tuggy Oct 27 '15 at 3:07
  • @NathanTuggy He could have read it in a book. – Usernew Oct 27 '15 at 6:52
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The first is correct.

To better understand the rules governing the use of past tense (or multiple words in past tense in the same sentence), see this link (taken from the accepted answer on this question).

Also, note that in your example, the first sentence only contains one word in past tense: "did." Something can "get processed" in present tense - adding "-ed" to "process" makes it a verb, it doesn't assign a tense per se. For example: "The files are not being processed by the system."

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The first one is correct. Processed means being processed, it's a passive form not past tense

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‘past tense words’ is not a usual way to talk about English verbs.

‘did’ and ‘processed’ are different verb forms. ‘did’ is always the past simple form of ‘do’, and ‘processed’ is, in this sentence, the past participle form of ‘process’.

Also, in this sentence, ‘did’ and ‘processed’ are performing different functions. ‘did’ is the auxiliary verb needed to form a past simple negative statement, and is always followed by a base form verb - here ‘get’. ‘get processed’ is a kind of passive voice, which is usually formed with ‘be + past participle’ (‘the files are processed by the system’ (not ‘are process’)), but can, more informally, be formed with ‘get + past participle’ (‘the files get processed by the system’ (not ‘get process’)). (The other way of checking that ‘processed’ is a past participle is to substitute an irregular verb: ‘the files are/get written by the system’.)

‘we should not use 2 past tense words in a sentence’.

It is perfectly allowable (in fact it is required) to use a past simple verb form and a past participle verb form in past perfect and/or past passive tenses. In fact it is possible to create a past perfect passive sentence like ‘the files had (past simple) been (be-past participle) processed (main verb-past participle)’.

But, it is probably * true that we can’t (not just ‘should not’) use two past simple verb forms in the same function of a verb string: *‘the system processed printed the files’. (But we can join them with ‘and’: ‘the system processed and printed the files’.)

*I don’t want to flatly state that ‘we can’t’ in case there are any exceptions (for example, idioms or formulaic expressions). If there are any exceptions, I can’t immediately think of them.

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