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Thread: tense agreement

  1. #1
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    Default tense agreement

    Is this sentence correct?

    "I was just wondering if you have talked it over with James about whether Ariel can come visiting us during the winter break."

    I have doubt because its tenses seem not agree with each other.

  2. #2
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: tense agreement

    There's no real problem with the tenses- the past tense is used to be tentative rather than to indicate past time.

  3. #3
    MrPedantic is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: tense agreement

    Quote Originally Posted by MadHorse
    Is this sentence correct?

    "I was just wondering if you have talked it over with James about whether Ariel can come visiting us during the winter break."

    I have doubt because its tenses seem not agree with each other.
    In addition to tdol's comment:

    You can if you wish use the past perfect tense in the IF clause:

    "I was just wondering if you had spoken to James about whether Ariel can come and visit us during the winter break."

    MrP

  4. #4
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    Default Re: tense agreement

    Many thanks, tdol and MrPedantic.


    If it is correct, then the following must also be correct?
    I thought adj means adjective.

    Somehow it does not sound right to me; just want to make sure.
    I'd appreciate any comment on this.
    Last edited by MadHorse; 11-Dec-2005 at 06:04.

  5. #5
    MrPedantic is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: tense agreement

    Hello MH

    1. I thought (that) X.

    If X is still or generally true, you can put it either in the past tense (to accord with 'thought') or the present tense (to accord with the meaning). So:

    2. I thought adj. meant adjective.

    "meant" accords with "thought".

    3. I thought adj. means adjective.

    "means" accords with the sense of the sentence ("adj." still means "adjective").

    I prefer the #2 form; but many native speakers would prefer #3. (In fact, for many native speakers, the preference is unconscious; they may become confused once they start to think about it consciously.)

    By the way, I forgot to mention another version of your original example:

    4. I was just wondering if you had spoken to James about whether Ariel could come and visit us during the winter break.

    Here, all the tenses are in accord.

    MrP

  6. #6
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    Default Re: tense agreement

    Your clarification is of great, great help to me, MrPedantic.
    Last edited by MadHorse; 11-Dec-2005 at 21:04.

  7. #7
    MrPedantic is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: tense agreement

    You're welcome, MH!

    MrP

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