Normally 'they' say "Make your tenses agree!" OK, but I read the following first-person description:

“Alex had explained, and I am content because of it.”

The “I am” should be “I was” by the above rule – but no: she became content, is content, and forever will be because of the explanation. The sense wasn't just that she is currently content, but that it would span the future as well.

What is this form called? It's not past-, present- or future-perfect: is there infinite-perfect?

  • 1
    Why we should insist on using past perfect ? e.g., Alex's explanations made me content.
    – Cardinal
    Commented Jun 11, 2016 at 8:39
  • Perhaps I was too brief in my excerpt. The statement came from "You're happier now: what had Alex said?" "Alex had explained, and I am content because of it." Commented Jun 11, 2016 at 8:51
  • My comment was due to the fact that I, personally, use past perfect to distinguish between course of actions such a way that the reader or listener understand which course of action happened before another.
    – Cardinal
    Commented Jun 11, 2016 at 8:54
  • Your example sentence seems malformed. It lacks sufficient context for us to understand the reason for the past perfect (had explained) and the second clause after "and" comes as a non-sequitur. What was it that Alex had explained? The quotation marks surrounding the entire sentence are also unclear. Are "Alex" and "I" the same person? Your explanatory comment to Cardinal does not clear things up sufficiently.
    – TimR
    Commented Jun 11, 2016 at 13:56

1 Answer 1


Alex had explained, and I am content because of it.

This means that I listened to Alex's explanation and right now I am satisfied with his explanation. It might imply, but does not say, that I accepted Alex's explanation immediately. It definitely implies that I will probably continue to be content.

The reason that the meaning is past/present/future is that the verb be is a stative verb: We use it in the present simple to suggest that something is in a particular state, possibly has been so for a while and is likely to remain so in the future, for example

BDO is a very good bank

I am not interested in politics

England is a part of the United Kingdom.

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