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  1. #1
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    Default sequence of tenses

    Hello,

    Here is an example from Wall Street Journal:

    China denied that the country was the source of recent attacks against users of Google's email service, though in recent weeks Beijing has acknowledged taking a more active role in policing cyberspace.

    The first sentence starts with Past Simple. Then in the second part it changes to Present Perfect. Would it be OK if I said: "in recent weeks Beijing had acknowledged".

    Another similar example:

    Delia and I went for a long (for us) walk in the countryside
    yesterday and apart from being very enjoyable it has shown us how
    unfit we've both become! Today we are both aching in knees and
    thighs, but looking forward to doing it again soon.

    In this example the situation is clear, but, again, is it OK to say" it had shown" and "we had both become".

    I am asking these questions to be able to explain this situation to my students. Usually my colleagues and I say that if the verb in the main sentence is in the past tense, all the verbs in the sentence take a step back, i.e. change into past tenses as well.

    Thank you in advance.
    Last edited by vectra; 03-Jun-2011 at 17:40. Reason: adding new content

  2. #2
    Mannysteps is offline Member
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    Default Re: sequence of tenses

    Not a teacher


    The use of the "had shown" would be wrong, Ssnce it'd set the time as previous to "went". That is also the same with "had aknowleged" an "denied"

    My humble opinion

  3. #3
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    Default Re: sequence of tenses

    Quote Originally Posted by vectra View Post
    China denied [...], though in recent weeks Beijing has acknowledged [...].

    The first sentence starts with Past Simple. Then in the second part it changes to Present Perfect. Would it be OK if I said: "in recent weeks Beijing had acknowledged".

    No. The present perfect is the appropriate form with 'in recent weeks'.

    Another similar example:

    Delia and I went for a long (for us) walk in the countryside yesterday and apart from being very enjoyable it has shown us how unfit we've both become! Today we are both aching in knees and thighs, but looking forward to doing it again soon.

    In this example the situation is clear, but, again, is it OK to say" it had shown"
    No, though the past simple would also be possible

    and "we had both become".
    Only if you use 'showed' for the previous verb


    Usually my colleagues and I say that if the verb in the main sentence is in the past tense, all the verbs in the sentence take a step back, i.e. change into past tenses as well.
    You are perhaps confusing this with the backshifting of verbs in indirect/reported speech when the speech word is in the past tense.

    The boxer said, "I am the greatest".
    The boxer said that he was the greatest"
    .

    In narrative, we can use any appropriate tense.
    5

  4. #4
    vectra's Avatar
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    Default Re: sequence of tenses

    Thank you all for your explanations.

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