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  1. #1
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    learning54 is offline Senior Member
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    Default today and now in a simple past sentence?

    Hi teachers,
    Context: 'Twenty-four hours ago he escaped from prison, and our new President wants him back in prison–today! Now! At once!.
    Is this question correct?
    When did the new President want him back in prison?
    He wanted him back in prison today, now, at once.

    What puzzles me here is, 'today, now'. How come those times markers are in present if indeed, the whole sentence is in past?
    Will it be better like this?
    He wanted him back in prison that day, right then.
    'He wanted him back in prison today, now, at once.'

    Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: today and now in a simple past sentence?

    We can use the present tense to talk about the past- we do it in narratives and suchlike to make things seem more alive and closer. We can also use now with the past tense in a similar way. However, you have not given the whole context- what was the time of the escape relative to the president's statement? If it's a TV news story, then it sounds fine, but if the escape happened last week, then it doesn't work.

  3. #3
    learning54's Avatar
    learning54 is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: today and now in a simple past sentence?

    Hi Tdol,
    Thank you for your help and comments.
    This is the whole context. It's one of those Audio Stories from Oxford University Press.
    The inspector waited, and the Chief of Police looked at him coldly.‘What are you waiting for?’ she asked. ‘Go out and find him! Three months ago this man–Alex Dinon– killed the Presidentof our country. He’s a murderer–a dangerous man. Twenty-four hours ago he escaped from prison, and our new President wants him back in prison–today! Now! At once!’

    The students have this question:
    When did the new President want him back in prison?
    And they have to complete the answers according to what they hear. They don't have the text.
    The answer they have looks like this:
    He _______ _______ _________ in ________ __________, _______ ____ _________.

    Could the answer be this one?
    He wanted him back in prison today, now, at once.
    I don't think so. That's why I've asked.

    L.


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