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37 votes

Why is this sentence wrong "He wasn't a stranger because I have met him before"?

The verb tenses do not agree. "He was not" requires "I had met". Or, you could use "He is not" with "I have met". Both tenses need to be in agreement. However, if speaking this to a native English ...
elmer007's user avatar
  • 1,296
15 votes
Accepted

"The job springboarded him into the profession at which he <would eventually excel> <eventually excelled>."— Why can we need the variant with "would"?

In terms of the timeline of what happened, both "would eventually excel" and "eventually excelled" have the same meaning: the job got him into the profession, and after some time, ...
gotube's user avatar
  • 50.9k
13 votes

"The job springboarded him into the profession at which he <would eventually excel> <eventually excelled>."— Why can we need the variant with "would"?

As is so often the case, a lot depends on context and the nuance of one’s intended meaning. Sentence 1 (with would) sits more firmly fixed in that moment when the springboarding originally took place. ...
Paul Tanenbaum's user avatar
8 votes
Accepted

She told me that she HAS / HAD a gun

Both are perfectly correct. The meanings are not exactly the same, and you would use one or the other in different situations. She told me she has a gun. Use this form if the situation is ongoing ...
TypeIA's user avatar
  • 12.3k
8 votes
Accepted

past tense of "should"

Should (referring to the past) versus should have + past participle "Should have" + past participle is a perfect construction, referring to a completed action. It tends to imply "......
rjpond's user avatar
  • 23.1k
8 votes

"He works/worked hard so that he will be promoted."

Example #1 means 1a. To get sense 1b, remove the word that from #1. Example #2 is a potentially awkward mix of tenses, but it's essentially the same thing Example #2 means 2a, and #2 without that ...
FumbleFingers's user avatar
7 votes

Changing the verb for indirect quote/reported speech expressing habitual actions

In reported speech, the tense of the verbs in the reported speech is normally backshifted. I am ready He said he was ready There are, however, exceptions. If the original statement is a general ...
JavaLatte's user avatar
  • 60.1k
6 votes
Accepted

Confusion about "Backshift" of Verbs in Indirect Speech (To Kill a Mockingbird)

Your concern seems to be this: "Why doesn't the author backshift the verbs in reports of Jem's simple past statements to the past perfect?" I think the best answer is simply that we don't always do ...
Michael Foland's user avatar
6 votes

Why is this sentence wrong "He wasn't a stranger because I have met him before"?

Actually, I tend to think of the issue with this sentence as a logical one, rather than grammatical (although of course most grammatical rules are meant to be logical). In fact, there is no ...
Paul's user avatar
  • 161
6 votes

Changing the verb for indirect quote/reported speech expressing habitual actions

I agree that options 2 and 3 are correct if they still pray every day and that only option 3 is correct if they no longer pray every day. But the question as given is select the one which best ...
Jason Bassford's user avatar
5 votes
Accepted

confusion over which tense: Present Simple or?

Actually I sent you a message to ask if you are alright when I heard the earthquake news ... If you wanted to know if your friend is safe and sound now, you can ask: How are you?; Is everything OK?; ...
Mari-Lou A's user avatar
  • 27.9k
5 votes
Accepted

Report of a truth

You might not have to backshift, but it is quite natural to do so, especially if the context is talking about what John said. Imagine the context. So Henry, this afternoon you'll be meeting the ...
James K's user avatar
  • 226k
5 votes

Report of a truth

We don't have to backshift "when reporting a truth" - but in fact we usually do, as is clearly shown by this usage chart... Almost every matching occurrence above will continue with ...the ...
FumbleFingers's user avatar
5 votes

"The job springboarded him into the profession at which he <would eventually excel> <eventually excelled>."— Why can we need the variant with "would"?

Further to Paul Tanenbaum's answer, the sentence is a story in miniature, talking about an event in the past that springboarded him into a profession. From the perspective of that moment in the past ...
TimR on some device's user avatar
4 votes

Report of a truth

It depends on whether that person is referring to an instance or a general truth. If it's a general and fixed truth, present tense is retained, since the statement applies to the present as well as ...
Flater's user avatar
  • 1,797
4 votes

What is the difference between verbs "will" and "would"?

Will here means is willing to. He refuses to listen (now). He refused to listen (in the past).
Kate Bunting's user avatar
  • 57.4k
4 votes

What is the difference between verbs "will" and "would"?

The explanations to follow are based on A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language, Quirk et al, 1985. Those two verb forms are modal, the first being the present of the verbal (modal) auxiliary &...
LPH's user avatar
  • 873
3 votes

confusion over which tense: Present Simple or?

You are talking about the past, no matter the earthquake happened recently. So You use "were" instead of "are". Moreover,the use of the noun "news" means that you are referring to the information or ...
Khan's user avatar
  • 27.2k
3 votes
Accepted

Should I treat quotes from God as universal truth for narration?

Either version is grammatically acceptable and understandable: the choice might depend to some extent on the writer's viewpoint. If the writer is an atheist scholar who is reporting Hindu myths, the ...
JavaLatte's user avatar
  • 60.1k
3 votes

"until something" in reported speech

Both are fine. In reported speech you can often backshift or not, without significantly changing the meaning. Native speakers don't even notice the difference, as it's often unimportant. Example: ...
Andrew's user avatar
  • 88.4k
3 votes

'would have had to

Use of the modals is tricky, because they have only two forms to cover a multitude of meanings. As a gross simplification: If you wanted to watch that movie, you would have to ... The sentence you ...
StoneyB on hiatus's user avatar
3 votes

Sequence of tenses for facts irrelevant of the moment of speech

There is no grammatical requirement, when reporting what was said in the past, to use the present tense if the assertion is true in the present. The professor said Pluto took more than 200 Earth-...
TimR's user avatar
  • 130k
3 votes
Accepted

Should I backshift with "If you ever wondered..."?

Normally, with an embedded question or statement in a past-tense sentence, the verb in the embedded part is also past: Where is he going? -> I wondered where he was going. But when the question ...
Colin Fine's user avatar
  • 76.2k
3 votes
Accepted

future in reported speech when reporting verb is in the past

Backshifting may not be necessary sometimes. From Cambridge dictionary: We don’t need to change the tense in indirect speech if what a person said is still true or relevant or has not happened yet....
Vincent Y's user avatar
  • 100
3 votes
Accepted

What is the difference between present simple and past simple in a past scenario?

The present tense would be appropriate for something happening while the sentence is being written or spoken: She asks passers-by what they think about New York City. If the asking took place at an ...
MarcInManhattan's user avatar
2 votes
Accepted

mixing tenses in a sentence with "while"

While there means although. Although no one can say all that really happened, the story told by tabloids was close to the truth. The although-clause simply refers to the present state of knowledge. ...
TimR's user avatar
  • 130k
2 votes
Accepted

Why is this sentence wrong "He wasn't a stranger because I have met him before"?

The sentence is structured as a logical proposition (e.g. A is true "because" B is true), but the logic is invalid because of the inconsistent tenses. "He wasn't a stranger" means that at some time ...
user34391's user avatar
  • 146
2 votes

He said that his job IS/WAS boring

The second sentence. If the verb in the main clause ("He said that...") is in the past tense, the verb in the object subordinate clause should also be used in the corresponding past tense. ...
Yulia's user avatar
  • 2,850
2 votes
Accepted

He said that his job IS/WAS boring

If the situation didn't change you can either do backshifting or leave the verb as it is: He said (that) his job is boring. He said his job was boring. You can also leave out "that".
V.V.'s user avatar
  • 7,115
2 votes

Facts in reported speech – to backshift or not

Both present and past tense are possible. I tend to prefer present. "Backshifting" is the tendency when reporting speech to change the tense to past tense. Sometimes this makes sense: Mona said "I'...
James K's user avatar
  • 226k

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