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  1. #1
    tomyfreebie is offline Newbie
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    Question verb tense for verbs after "I thought..."

    What's the correct verb tense for verbs that come after the phrase "I thought.."

    ex. I thought the bus leaves/left at 8
    I thought the guy was/is dead
    I thought the rule only applies to employees..

    I think I've heard both present AND past tense used before but I never know when to use what.

    Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
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    Smile Re: verb tense for verbs after "I thought..."

    Quote Originally Posted by tomyfreebie View Post
    What's the correct verb tense for verbs that come after the phrase "I thought.."

    ex. I thought the bus leaves/left at 8
    I thought the guy was/is dead
    I thought the rule only applies to employees..

    I think I've heard both present AND past tense used before but I never know when to use what.

    Thanks in advance.
    You could use either the present or the past here. Grammar books usually say to use the past in situations like this. This is not reported speech, but it is possible to report what one thinks. Let's call it reported thoughts.

    Here's how we justify using either past or present:

    past - If the reporting verb is the past, then it follows that the next verb should be a past form.

    present - If the reporting verb is the past, but what one is reporting is a statement of fact or truth in the present, then it makes sense to use the present after the reporting verb even if the reporting verb is a past tense verb. This doesn't always work out well, but it often does. It depends on the sentence.

    Here's what I think about your example sentences:

    I thought the bus leaves/left at 8. - To me, it makes sense to use either "leaves" or "left" if you are talking about a bus schedule.

    I thought the guy was/is dead. - Here I would use only "was".

    I thought the rule only applies to employees. - To me, it makes sense to use either "applies" or "applied".

    applies: It's okay to use applies because you are referring to that which could be based on fact or the truth.

    applied: It's okay to use "applied" because it is preceded by "thought", which is the reporting verb.

    Another example:

    She said her name was Claudia. - And it is, but "was" follows "said".
    She said her name is Claudia. - And it still is her name. Therefore, it makes sense to use "is".

    Last edited by PROESL; 17-Aug-2009 at 06:35.

  3. #3
    tomyfreebie is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: verb tense for verbs after "I thought..."

    Quote Originally Posted by PROESL View Post
    You could use either the present or the past here. Grammar usually say to use the past in situations like this. This is not reported speech, but it is possible to report what one thinks. Let's call it reported thoughts.

    Here's how we justify using either past or present:

    past - If the reporting verb is the past, then it follows that the next verb should be a past form.

    present - If the reporting verb is the past, but what one is reporting is a statement of fact or truth in the present, then it makes sense to use the present after the reporting verb even if the reporting verb is a past tense verb. This doesn't always work out well, but it often does. It depends on the sentence.

    Here's what I think about your example sentences:

    I thought the bus leaves/left at 8. - To me, it makes sense to use either "leaves" or "left" if you are talking about a bus schedule.

    I thought the guy was/is dead. - Here I would use only "was".

    I thought the rule only applies to employees. - To me, it makes sense to use either "applies" or "applied".

    applies: It's okay to use applies because you are referring to that which could be based on fact or the truth.

    applied: It's okay to use "applied" because it is preceded by "thought", which is the reporting verb.

    Another example:

    She said her name was Claudia. - And it is, but "was" follows "said".
    She said her name is Claudia. - And it still is her name. Therefore, it makes sense to use "is".

    First of all, thanks for the reply!

    So let's just clarify this.. If the reporting verb is past tense, it's ALWAYS right to use past tense. As for using present tense, it is only right IF only the fact is still true. However if the fact is still remained true, it is also correct to use past tense?

    Am I correct?

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    Default Re: verb tense for verbs after "I thought..."

    Quote Originally Posted by tomyfreebie View Post
    First of all, thanks for the reply!

    So let's just clarify this.. If the reporting verb is past tense, it's ALWAYS right to use past tense. As for using present tense, it is only right IF only the fact is still true. However if the fact is still remained true, it is also correct to use past tense?

    Am I correct?
    Yes, you've got it.


  5. #5
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    Default Re: verb tense for verbs after "I thought..."

    Quote Originally Posted by tomyfreebie View Post
    First of all, thanks for the reply!

    So let's just clarify this.. If the reporting verb is past tense, it's ALWAYS right to use past tense. As for using present tense, it is only right IF only the fact is still true. However if the fact is still remained true, it is also correct to use past tense?

    Am I correct?
    I would always use the past tense personally, and I would advise a student to do the same, like that you can't go wrong.

  6. #6
    tomyfreebie is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: verb tense for verbs after "I thought..."

    Quote Originally Posted by PROESL View Post
    Yes, you've got it.


    Does the same rule applies to sentences that start with "I didn't know..."?

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