1

Sentence <1> is from oxforddictionaries.com, which I think is incorrect, the correct sentence according to me is <2>

1> There are some threads that once pulled unraveled the whole sweater.

2> There are some threads that once pulled unravel the whole sweater.

If 1 is correct, kindly tell me how?

EDIT: I am editing this question as I am not getting my confusion resolved.

1> There are some threads that once pulled unraveled the whole sweater.

This sentence according to me should be having 'were' instead of 'are', because unraveling of the sweater is already done.

2> There are some threads that once pulled unravel the whole sweater.

This sentence informs the reader that in a sweater there are such threads.

  • 1
    You can understand #1 as a variant of reported speech. "are said to unravel". Or you could understand "once pulled" as a hypothetical, with backshifting in the result clause to convey something analogous to modal distance: if pulled, would cause the sweater to unravel. – Tᴚoɯɐuo Feb 15 '16 at 14:07
  • @TRomano I agree, especially "you could understand 'once pulled' as a hypothetical". You should write an answer. – user3169 Feb 16 '16 at 0:28
  • Since ravel means both to entangle and to disentangle, what does unravel mean? – Alan Carmack Mar 17 '16 at 13:33
1

Both sentences are correct. The "are" in the first sentence simply means that the threads still exist.

-1

Your first sentence is correct

There are some threads that once pulled unraveled the whole sweater.

Once is being used as a conjunction meaning at the time of or as soon as.
In your example, both the pulling and the unravelling occurred in the past.

In reference to the future

There are some threads that once pulled (will) unravel the whole sweater.
There are some threads when pulled (will) unravel the whole sweater.

talks about the cause and effect of pulling certain threads in a hypothetical case

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