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  • I thought it wouldn't be a bad idea to give you something you require.

  • I thought it wouldn't be a bad idea to give you something you required.

Are both the above sentences grammatically correct? What's the difference between their meanings? When constructing sentences of this sort, should one try to keep the tenses in harmony using strictly the past tense only?

  • Both are okay. The former talks about recently what someone 'requires'. – Maulik V Jan 6 '16 at 5:30
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"I thought it wouldn't be a bad idea to give you something you require,"

implies that you are giving something for which there is a current need. This sentence might be included in a card or note that accompanies a gift, for instance.

"I thought it wouldn't be a bad idea to give you something you required,"

is something stated after the fact. Having now received the gift from you, it is no longer required by the recipient.

I'm thinking of the gift of a top-quality stethoscope to a nursing or medical student, for instance, which can be an expensive acquisition on a student's limited budget.

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Second one is quite right to write.The first clause,reporting verb (I thought) is in Past form so that the 2nd clause,reported speech, must be the past form.

  • Welcome to ELL! It's a good idea to provide references for answers, where possible. Why do you say that the second clause must be in the past form? – stangdon Jan 12 '16 at 20:44

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