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Thread: high time

  1. #1
    njanja is offline Junior Member
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    Default high time

    Hello,
    I don`t understand why it`s correct to say " It is high time that we left ", and not " it is high time that we leave ". When this sentence is in the past simple tense do we say " it was high time that we left ", or " it was high time that we had left " ? Why?

    Are there the same rules for " time " ?
    It is time that we left ?? - correct or incorrect ?

    THANK YOU !

  2. #2
    Mister Micawber's Avatar
    Mister Micawber is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: high time

    EXCELLENT question, for which I have no answer except the gut reaction of a native speaker:

    "It is high time that we left" and "it is high time that we leave" are equally acceptable, and I am sure that I have said both with equanimity. Taking the present as a basis, therefore, retrogression would give us: "it was high time that we left". Oops! That's not retrogression for the first sentence, it's retrogression for the second. Well, "it was high time that we had left" certainly looks and sounds quite unnatural, so this must be a very peculiar exception indeed.

    Cassy?

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    Default Re: high time

    We've had this discussion on another thread. They both sound OK, yet I reckon that the correct one is it's high time we left because it refers to a present that is entirely possible, yet not happening, thus the subjunctive. Being an English student, to me it is almost formulaic. As in I recommend that he do that. Again, the subjunctive.

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    Default Re: high time

    Additionally,

    "It's high time (that) we left " means, we are still in the room, but in our mind's eye, we see ourselves in the past, as having already left, and that's why "left" is used. "left" refers to the past, which is where are thoughts are: We should have left before now; We shouldn't have stayed until now.

    "It's high time (that) we leave " means, we see ourselves in the present, getting ready to leave. In that context, 'leave' expresses an unactualized event, something that hasn't happened yet, whereas with ". . . that we left", we project the event has having already taken place, even though it hasn't.

  5. #5
    Dany's Avatar
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    Default Re: high time

    Quote Originally Posted by Casiopea
    Additionally,

    "It's high time (that) we left " means, we are still in the room, but in our mind's eye, we see ourselves in the past, as having already left, and that's why "left" is used. "left" refers to the past, which is where are thoughts are: We should have left before now; We shouldn't have stayed until now.

    "It's high time (that) we leave " means, we see ourselves in the present, getting ready to leave. In that context, 'leave' expresses an unactualized event, something that hasn't happened yet, whereas with ". . . that we left", we project the event has having already taken place, even though it hasn't.
    Hello Casiopea,

    I'm not agree with you, as you see in the post of time.

    I have learned that after "It's time you/we/she a.s.o." is used the simple past as a form of subjunktive.

    "It's high time that we left". In that case "left" isn't a past form. It is a form of subjunctive. You only use the past form to change "leave" into a subjunctive.
    It is the same meaning as "It's high time for us to leave." or "It's high time to leave".


    Kind regards,
    Dany

  6. #6
    Dany's Avatar
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    Default Re: high time

    I remembered that I started a thread like this last year.

    Look here
    By the way, my writing was really bad

    Kind regards,
    Dany
    Last edited by Dany; 16-Jan-2005 at 16:26.

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    Default Re: high time

    Quote Originally Posted by Dany
    Hello Casiopea,

    I'm not agree with you, as you see in the post of time.

    I have learned that after "It's time you/we/she a.s.o." is used the simple past as a form of subjunktive.

    "It's high time that we left". In that case "left" isn't a past form. It is a form of subjunctive. You only use the past form to change "leave" into a subjunctive.
    It is the same meaning as "It's high time for us to leave." or "It's high time to leave".


    Kind regards,
    Dany
    Try,

    I'm not in agreement with you.

    In looking back at the responses, I notice that no one said it was grammatically correct in terms of traditional grammar. The poster, njanja, wanted to know why people use it, that's all.

  8. #8
    Dany's Avatar
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    Default Re: high time

    Quote Originally Posted by Casiopea
    Try,

    I'm not in agreement with you.

    In looking back at the responses, I notice that no one said it was grammatically correct in terms of traditional grammar. The poster, njanja, wanted to know why people use it, that's all.
    Sorry, I have understood the post of njanja that she want to know, why it is not correct to say "It's high time that we leave". Perhaps I have misunderstood something. I was sure that I'm right, because of the answer that I get by my threat last year, and the explanations of my teacher. But after your post in "time" I don't now anything

    Kind regards,
    Dany

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    Default Re: high time

    Quote Originally Posted by Dany
    Sorry, I have understood the post of njanja that she want to know, why it is not correct to say "It's high time that we leave". Perhaps I have misunderstood something. I was sure that I'm right, because of the answer that I get by my threat last year, and the explanations of my teacher. But after your post in "time" I don't now anything

    Kind regards,
    Dany
    Quote Originally Posted by njanja
    I don`t understand why it`s correct to say " It is high time that we left ", and not " it is high time that we leave ".
    Here's the simple answer, Dany.

    "should" is often omitted, 2):

    1) It's time we should leave.
    2) It's time we leave.
    3) It's time we left.

    Now, my understanding of njanja's question, or rather the answer s/he's looking for, has to do with meaning, or semantics. "should" requires a base verb, so if we omit "should", we need to keep the verb in its base form. If we change the base form, add tense, then it's no longer the same sentence, 3).

    1) It's time we should leave.
    2) It's time we leave
    3) It's time we left.

    Sentence 1) and 2) carry the same meaning (i.e., a present desire, wish), whereas 3) carries a different meaning (i.e., past tense). Whomever told njanja that it's not correct to say 3) was referring to meaning. Native speakers use 3), Dany. It's acceptable.

  10. #10
    Dany's Avatar
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    Default Re: high time

    Quote Originally Posted by Susie Smith
    It's time to go to the station. OK
    It's time for us to go to the station. OK
    It's time we went to the station. OK

    In the last example we use the past but the meaning is present or future, not past.

    It's 10 o'clock and the train leaves at 10:45. It's time we went to the station. OK (NOT It's time we go to the station.)

    We often use this structure to criticize somebody or to complain.
    The car is very dirty. It's time you washed it.
    Hello Casiopea,

    So the explanation of Susie Smith was right or wrong? What's the difference between the sentences:

    It's time we go to the station (according to Susie Smith, this is clearly wrong).
    and
    It's time we went to the station (according to Susie Smith, this is the only right grammatical usage).

    It is not easy for me, to understand when it is wrong to use the past form. I'm really confused

    Kind regards,
    Dany
    Last edited by Dany; 19-Jan-2005 at 21:07.

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