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Thread: shift in tense

  1. Anonymous
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    #1

    shift in tense

    Is this correct?

    *I knew that the group instructed us to bury bottles but I live in the city.

    I still currently live in the city so I used "live" instead of "lived."

    Is the shift in tense in the sentence *above allowable?

    Is there ever a time when a shift in tense is allowable?

    Thanks.

  2. Casiopea's Avatar

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    #2

    Re: shift in tense

    ...the group instructed us to bury the bottles (in the countryside), but, since I live in the city, I couldn't do it.

    "I live in the city" expresses a general fact. (OK)

    OR

    ... the group instructed us to bury the bottles (in the countryside), but, since I lived in the city at that time, I couldn't do it then.

    "I lived in the city" expresses a past situation.

    All the best,

  3. davidw55555
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    #3
    THANKS, CASIOPEA. :)

  4. davidw55555
    Guest
    #4
    By the way, I noticed this sentence in a book I am reading :

    The Greek philosopher Hierocles warned Diocletian that Christianity is not "like the cult of Mithras."

    Are these shifts in tense OK as well?

  5. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: shift in tense

    Quote Originally Posted by Anonymous
    Is this correct?

    *I knew that the group instructed us to bury bottles but I live in the city.

    I still currently live in the city so I used "live" instead of "lived."

    Is the shift in tense in the sentence *above allowable?

    Is there ever a time when a shift in tense is allowable?

    Thanks.
    There is a bit of variation in the use of tenses in these situations. It may be true that you currently live in the city and it may be true that you lived in the city at that time. In this case, I would use the past tense. You are speaking of a past event and you lived in the city at that time. It only becomes really important if you no longer kive in the city. Then you would be forced to use the past tense.

    It is natural for people to use the past tense when talking about events that happened in the past. As a matter of fact, there is a grammar "guideline" that subordinate clauses be in the past tense if the main clause is in the past tense. Exceptions to this include unchangeable characteristics and recognized truths.

    One would usually say "When Columbus set sail in 1492, he knew that world is round -- not "was" because the eartyh has always been and still is "round". It gets tricky sometimes.

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