"Has it happened to you that..." what tense is this part usually followed by, the past or the present?

Has it ever happened to you that you're in your home alone, and you start hearing footsteps?

Has it ever happened to you that you were in your home alone, and you started hearing footsteps?

  • Present indicative (you are) or backshifted to were are both idiomatic possibilities for this quasi-hypothetical scenario. Mar 7, 2016 at 20:53
  • Both past and present tense are fine for your context. Idiomatically, present is probably more common - the focus being on getting the other person to think about being in that situation now, whereas using past tense places more emphasis on identifying a specific situation in the past. Mar 7, 2016 at 20:54

1 Answer 1


The phrase

"Has it happened to you that..."

makes the question hypothetical, but the answer may be real.

The time frame is anchored by "happened" at some time in the past, so either present or past tense to describe the hypothetical scenario is possible. The present tense is possible since the entire question is already anchored in the past.

The possible answers might be

Yes, that has happened to me...
That happened to me when...
No, that's never happened to me.

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