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The goal of the assignment was to write a letter to our school counselor about a problem. I wrote:

"Even though I tried to stop playing, I could not stop."

My teacher said that the verb tense of this word is wrong. It doesn't seem incorrect to me but it is not my mother tongue so I don't know really well.

What would be the correct verb tense?

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  • Your teacher is wrong. Aug 27, 2016 at 6:01

1 Answer 1

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Even though I tried to stop playing, I could not stop.

This is grammatically correct. It means that, at some time in the past, you did try to stop playing, but you were unable to stop at the time. It's all in the past, so either you stopped trying (and still play) or you have since found some way of stopping. If that's what you really meant to say, it's perfect.

If you intended to say that you are are still trying to stop, but you still haven't been successful, you would say:

Even though I have tried to stop playing, I can't stop.

The first uses the simple perfect (tried) which describes a completed action, and the second uses the present perfect simple (have tried) which describes something that started in the past and is ongoing.

The tense of the second verb (could/can) must change to match the tense of the first verb.

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  • I wonder if the teacher was looking for "Even though I had tried to stop". It's difficult to say without more context.
    – ColleenV
    Mar 16, 2016 at 19:24

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