Please let me know if you have a spare copy or did another run

Is it correct to employ present because the first event has more chance to happen than the second (past simple)

  • 3
    It's nothing to do with the first event having more chance of happening. The present is "correct" if what you're asking is whether the other person currently has a spare copy. There could obviously be contexts where what you're asking is whether they had a spare copy last month, say (which they might have since passed on to someone else, so they don't have it now anyway). Asking Please let me know if you do another run, means either Tell me if and when you do another run (at some future point), or Tell me if it's your normal practice to do another run (every time). – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Dec 26 '15 at 16:19
  • I dont know if he has a spare copy and I don't know if he is going to make another run so which tense should I use past simple for both? – user5577 Dec 26 '15 at 17:40
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    But you chose to say you don't know if he has a spare copy (i.e. - whether he's got that spare at the time of asking, not whether he had a copy some time ago). It's the difference between Do you have a wife? (right now) and Did you have a wife? (at some time in the past). To repeat myself, you use the verb tense that reflects what you want to know - neither question is inherently right or wrong in itself, it just depends what you want to ask about. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Dec 26 '15 at 18:15
  • Your question has two conditions, one about a present state, the other about the past (you are asking whether the other person did another run). It is possible to ask such a question. The tenses do not suggest the probability of each condition being true. If you intend to ask about "doing another run" at present you should use "if you are doing another run", and if you ask about a future activity you should use "if you do another run". – laugh Dec 26 '15 at 20:44

The tense choices here have nothing to do with likelihoods.

You are asking which of the two things "have a spare copy" and "did another run" was true. This is an inclusive or, or that both can true at the same time too: you could simultaneously have a spare copy on hand, and already did another run of something earlier.

Back to the question.

you have a spare copy

This is one of the things in your inclusive or. This is the present tense, or that if the person currently has a spare copy.

(you) did another run

The other thing in your inclusive or question. This is the past tense, or that if the person did another run beforehand.


The "you have a spare copy" and "(you) did another run" are just potential predicates in an inclusive or question. Tense doesn't affect the chance of one predicate of the inclusive or being true or not.

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