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  1. #1
    nelson13 is offline Member
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    using MEAN to talk about the past

    Part of a paragraph:

    After Oxfam Hong Kong interviewed 600 poor households last year with children aged 15 and under across the city, it reported that one in six households faced "high food insecurity", which meant that, because of their financial situation, they frequently suffered from hunger.

    Is it natural or OK to use the present tense(MEANS instead of MEANT)? I have had this question because I am not sure whether the past tense MEANT would give the implication that it doesn't mean so any more now.

  2. #2
    SoothingDave is online now VIP Member
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    Re: using MEAN to talk about the past

    It meant it then. It means it now. There is little chance that the definition of "food insecurity" has changed since the survey was done.

  3. #3
    nelson13 is offline Member
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    Re: using MEAN to talk about the past

    So can I use the present tense?

  4. #4
    MartinEnglish is offline Member
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    Re: using MEAN to talk about the past

    If you used the present tense (means) then you would also need to change "suffered" to "suffer". You'd then probably also change "faced" to "face.
    But the key is "last year". You're talking about the past, so why change it?

  5. #5
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Re: using MEAN to talk about the past

    You're talking about last year's report and it is irrelevant whether the situation is true today or not. If you want to talk about the current situation then talk about it, with reference to this report too if you like. I'd leave it. It may still mean it as a fact, but I think it's probably clearer in the past tense. What is the current situation?
    Last edited by Tdol; 24-Oct-2012 at 14:34.

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