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  1. #1
    Kyoma is offline Newbie
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    Default Past and Present tense in a Sentence?

    I read a book and there was this sentence:

    Neither Alex or Stephen was able to unlock the muscles of his neck and make him look downward.

    "was" = past tense
    "make" = present tense

    I don't understand.

    And then, there's this sentence "She made him convulse with joy". I'm not sure about this but I believe that "convulse" has to be in the present tense 'cause the sentence is in a S-V-0-V (subject-verb-object-verb) format and the second verb has to be in the present form. Am I correct on this?

  2. #2
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    Bennevis is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Past and Present tense in a Sentence?

    Neither Alex or Stephen was able to unlock the muscles of his neck and make him look downward.

    I don't fully understand what you're grappling with here. The verb "to make (someone) do something" means something like "to force someone to do something".
    Last edited by Bennevis; 17-Sep-2011 at 23:20. Reason: misprint: make someone -to- do smth

  3. #3
    TheParser is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: Past and Present tense in a Sentence?

    [QUOTE=Kyoma;800821]I read a book and there was this sentence:

    Neither Alex or Stephen was able to unlock the muscles of his neck and make him look downward.

    "was" = past tense
    "make" = present tense

    I don't understand.

    REMINDER: NOT A TEACHER


    I believe that this is just a short way to express two sentences:

    Neither Alex nor Stephen was able to unlock the muscles of his neck.

    Neither Alex nor Stephen was able to make him look downward.

    Therefore:

    Neither Alex nor Stephen was able to unlock the muscles of his neck and to make him look forward.

    (I believe that the second "to" is optional. You may use it or not. The person who wrote the original sentence decided not to use it.)

  4. #4
    Rover_KE is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: Past and Present tense in a Sentence?

    Kyoma, have you been told that you must not use the past tense and the present tense in the same sentence?

    Forget it; it's not true.

    Rover

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Past and Present tense in a Sentence?

    Quote Originally Posted by TheParser View Post
    Neither Alex nor Stephen was able to unlock the muscles of his neck and to make him look forward.

    (I believe that the second "to" is optional. You may use it or not. The person who wrote the original sentence decided not to use it.)
    I agree with your analysis of the sentence, but not with this.

    For some reason. 'to' in this sentence does not sound right to me, though it does in this one: Neither Alex nor Stephen was able to unlock the muscles of his neck or to make him look forward.

    I can't for the moment think why this should be so. I shall go away and ponder.

  6. #6
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    Bennevis is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: Past and Present tense in a Sentence?

    Quote Originally Posted by fivejedjon View Post
    I agree with your analysis of the sentence, but not with this.

    For some reason. 'to' in this sentence does not sound right to me, though it does in this one: Neither Alex nor Stephen was able to unlock the muscles of his neck or to make him look forward.

    I can't for the moment think why this should be so. I shall go away and ponder.
    fivejedjon,

    this is what we, non-native speakers, need - your true feeling of the language (text removed). Of course, "or" is correct here (if we are to use "to"). I've read so much quality literature in English that I've practically begun to feel the language. Away with unnecessary tension and animosity! Long live correct English and those who adore it!
    Last edited by Tdol; 18-Sep-2011 at 13:58. Reason: Unfriendliness removed- please don't get personal about other posters

  7. #7
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Past and Present tense in a Sentence?

    It sounds better to me without to in both cases- I would use and/or able to make or and/or make, though it's OK to use to.

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