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  1. #1
    LeTyan is offline Member
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    Default a paradox about tense

    Hi,

    ''Can you recogonize Mike when you see him?"
    "No, I forget/forgot his face long time ago."

    It seems to me that neither the past nor present tense works in here.
    Because if you use "forget", then "long time ago" indicates you should use the past tense.
    But if you use "forgot", that means you forgot what looked like, but now you do remember his face.

    Could anybody explain this please?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    MikeNewYork's Avatar
    MikeNewYork is online now VIP Member
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    Default Re: a paradox about tense

    Quote Originally Posted by LeTyan View Post
    Hi,

    ''Can you recogonize Mike when you see him?"
    "No, I forget/forgot his face long time ago."

    It seems to me that neither the past nor present tense works in here.
    Because if you use "forget", then "long time ago" indicates you should use the past tense.
    But if you use "forgot", that means you forgot what looked like, but now you do remember his face.

    Could anybody explain this please?

    Thanks!
    The problem begins with the original question. As phrased, it is not very natural. It would be better as: "Would you recognize Mike if you saw him"? Then a possible answer would be: "No, I forgot his face a long time ago."

  3. #3
    Barb_D's Avatar
    Barb_D is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: a paradox about tense

    Or Mike is due to arrive shortly - "Will you recognize Mike when you see him?"

    (Or course, I'm one of the people who suffers from facial blindness. I have a pretty mild case, but it's entirely possible that I won't recognize him any time I see him. In my case, I don't "forget" their faces - they just all look like to me.)
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

  4. #4
    LeTyan is offline Member
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    Default Re: a paradox about tense

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeNewYork View Post
    The problem begins with the original question. As phrased, it is not very natural. It would be better as: "Would you recognize Mike if you saw him"? Then a possible answer would be: "No, I forgot his face a long time ago."
    \
    Thanks for pointing out what's wrong in the question. So when you say "No, I forgot his face a long time ago", wouldn't that imply "you forgot his face, but you don't forget his face now? Because "forgot" is in past tense?"

  5. #5
    MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    Default Re: a paradox about tense

    Quote Originally Posted by LeTyan View Post
    \
    Thanks for pointing out what's wrong in the question. So when you say "No, I forgot his face a long time ago", wouldn't that imply "you forgot his face, but you don't forget his face now? Because "forgot" is in past tense?"
    Yes, but if you forgot it in the past, you still wouldn't remember it in the present.

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