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    #1

    Problems with the past tense

    Hi,

    I am having a problem with the tense that follows the past tense:

    Is it correct to say that I discovered that they don't know? (present tense after the past tense?)
    also when i want to say that : he said that the meeting that had been scheduled in December has been postponed ? (can I use past then past perfect then present perfect?
    best
    T

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    #2

    Re: Problems with the past tense

    Is it correct to say that I discovered that they don't know? (present tense after the past tense?) In principle, no. The sequence of tenses requires the past follows the past in the subordinate clause. One of the exceptions is when an unchanging situation or universal truth is expressed in the subordinate clause.

    also when i want to say that : he said that the meeting that had been scheduled in December has been postponed ? (can I use past then past perfect then present perfect? When a specific time is mentioned, the simple past will suffice. Again the passive past perfect shall be used. “He said the meeting that was scheduled in December had been postponed.”


    • Join Date: Aug 2006
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    #3

    Re: Problems with the past tense

    Quote Originally Posted by Buddhaheart View Post
    Is it correct to say that I discovered that they don't know? (present tense after the past tense?) In principle, no. The sequence of tenses requires the past follows the past in the subordinate clause. One of the exceptions is when an unchanging situation or universal truth is expressed in the subordinate clause.

    I hate to be the one to burst your bubble, but there is no "sequence of tenses", Buddhaheart.

    CGEL: Converting into indirect reported speech, however, is not a matter of applying rules of grammar that are specific to this purpose.

    Since there is no "sequence of tenses", then there are no "exceptions". We simply use the tense that expresses what we want to say.

    When one says, "We discovered that they don't know", it means that they still at present, don't know.

    When one says, ""We discovered that they didn't know", it could either be a report of speech, but more likely, it's stating that they didn't now, but possibly now do.


    also when i want to say that : he said that the meeting that had been scheduled in December has been postponed ? (can I use past then past perfect then present perfect?

    When a specific time is mentioned, the simple past will suffice. Again the passive past perfect shall be used. “He said the meeting that was scheduled in December had been postponed.”

    You can use any tense as long as it makes sense and either Thomas's or Buddahheart's would work just fine.

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