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  1. #1
    Heidi is offline Member
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    Post question about tenses

    Dear teachers,

    Which of the following two sentences sounds more natural, please!
    #1 My mother always tells me to tell the truth when I tell a lie.
    #2 My mother always tells me to tell the truth when I'm telling a lie.

  2. #2
    svartnik is offline Banned
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    Default Re: question about tenses

    #1

  3. #3
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    Raymott is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: question about tenses

    Quote Originally Posted by Heidi View Post
    Dear teachers,

    Which of the following two sentences sounds more natural, please!
    #1 My mother always tells me to tell the truth when I tell a lie.
    #2 My mother always tells me to tell the truth when I'm telling a lie.
    Neither sounds natural. Both seem to say:
    My mother always tells me "When you lie, tell the truth" or "When you are telling a lie, tell the truth".

    Your intended meaning (I think) is:
    Whenever I tell a lie, my mother tells me to tell the truth.
    Whenever I'm telling a lie, my mother tells me to tell the truth.

    The first sounds better.

  4. #4
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    konungursvia is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: question about tenses

    Or,

    "If my mother catches me lying, she always reminds me to tell the truth."

  5. #5
    Abstract Idea is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: question about tenses

    Naturally the suggestions of Raymott and konungursvia grant more clearness to the original sentece. But maybe Heidi's #1 sentence is meant to repeat "tell" three times in purpose, like saying something fun, urging the listener to think deeper about it. Of course if that is the idea, the sentence is not supposed to sound so "natural".

  6. #6
    Abstract Idea is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: question about tenses

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    Whenever I tell a lie, my mother tells me to tell the truth.

    But this one has the "three tells" and does naturally the job, I agree.

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