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  1. #1
    J-James is offline Newbie
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    Question sequence of tenses

    Hello, there. I'm new here.
    I have two following questions of the same type.
    I'd appreciate your assistance.

    1. Are both sentences below OK? If so, which is more usual?

    a) "Oh, hi! I didn't know you work here."
    b) "Oh, hi! I didn't know you worked here."


    2. Are both sentences below OK? If so, which is more usual?

    a) "Sorry, what did you say your name was again?"
    b) "Sorry, what did you say your name is again?"

  2. #2
    greegorush is offline Member
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    Default Re: sequence of tenses

    Hello.

    Quote Originally Posted by J-James View Post
    Hello, there. I'm new here.
    I have two following questions of the same type.
    I'd appreciate your assistance.

    I think that you can't use them in the same circumstance because there's a different tense in your sentences.

    1. Are both sentences below OK? If so, which is more usual?

    a) "Oh, hi! I didn't know you work here." Here is the present tense (He still works there).
    b) "Oh, hi! I didn't know you worked here." Worked is the past tense and it seems to me that he used to work there and no longer works there.

    2. Are both sentences below OK? If so, which is more usual?

    a) "Sorry, what did you say your name was again?" Past tense.
    b) "Sorry, what did you say your name is again?" Present Tense.
    I'm not a teacher anyway so others could have different opinions.

  3. #3
    J-James is offline Newbie
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    Default Re: sequence of tenses

    Thank you, greegorush. Could I have any other comments?
    According to a grammar book, the past tense is usual in both cases.


    1. "Oh, hi! I didn't know you worked here."

    (This was said when the speaker saw the person working there)

    2. "Sorry, what did you say your name was again?"

  4. #4
    greegorush is offline Member
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    Default Re: sequence of tenses

    Quote Originally Posted by J-James View Post
    Thank you, greegorush. Could I have any other comments?
    According to a grammar book, the past tense is usual in both cases.


    1. "Oh, hi! I didn't know you worked here."

    (This was said when the speaker saw the person working there)

    2. "Sorry, what did you say your name was again?"
    Oh! Sorry if I'm wrong. Have not seen this rule yet. Will wait for any other comments either.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: sequence of tenses

    greengorush: Worked is the past tense and it seems to me that he used to work there and no longer works there.

    OK...yes...but how long ago was it that he 'worked here' and so "no longer works" here?

    Think about the verb 'to know'...


    Oh, this is a juicy one for Intermediate+ learners wishing to understand language - not just as taught in grammar books - but as native speakers use language...and how and why.

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    J-James is offline Newbie
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    Smile Re: sequence of tenses

    Quote Originally Posted by David L. View Post
    greengorush: Worked is the past tense and it seems to me that he used to work there and no longer works there.

    OK...yes...but how long ago was it that he 'worked here' and so "no longer works" here?

    Think about the verb 'to know'...

    Oh, this is a juicy one for Intermediate+ learners wishing to understand language - not just as taught in grammar books - but as native speakers use language...and how and why.

    So, is the following the conclusion?

    1-a) "I didn't know you worked here." <-- this is usual
    1-b) "I didn't know you work here." <-- this is unusual, if not wrong

    2-a) "Sorry, what did you say your name was again?" <-- this is usual
    2-b) "Sorry, what did you say your name is again?" <-- this is unusual, if not wrong

    Thank you.

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    Default Re: sequence of tenses

    If that is all that you want, rather than an understanding 'how and why', then, yes :
    "I didn't know you worked here." <-- this is usual

    2-a) "Sorry, what did you say your name was again?" <-- this is usual
    2-b) "Sorry, what did you say your name is again?" <-- this is
    unusual, if not wrong less common but just as correct.

  8. #8
    greegorush is offline Member
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    Default Re: sequence of tenses

    Quote Originally Posted by David L. View Post
    OK...yes...but how long ago was it that he 'worked here' and so "no longer works" here?

    Think about the verb 'to know'...
    This is a good question. Never thought about it that a definite period should be passed to use "used to".

    Thinking about the verb "to know" and the elucidation "This was said when the speaker saw the person working there" I've made the following conclusion:
    The speaker refers to a period that had lasted until he saw the person working there. The speaker did not know that he worked there during that period (he did not know he worked there until he met him).

    "Sorry, what did you say your name was again?" Using the same logic here: What was your name when you gave it?

    But your explanation will be more useful anyway :)
    Last edited by greegorush; 27-Apr-2009 at 13:18.

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    J-James is offline Newbie
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    Question Re: sequence of tenses

    Quote Originally Posted by David L. View Post
    If that is all that you want, rather than an understanding 'how and why', then, yes :
    "I didn't know you worked here." <-- this is usual

    2-a) "Sorry, what did you say your name was again?" <-- this is usual
    2-b) "Sorry, what did you say your name is again?" <-- this is unusual, if not wrong less common but just as correct.
    Thank you, David L.
    That's basically all I wanted to know.
    Sorry to bother you again, but just one more question to make the whole thing clear. Is the following understanding correct?

    1-a) "Oh, hi! I didn't know you worked here." <-- this is usual
    1-b) "Oh, hi! I didn't know you work here." <-- this is less common but just as correct.

    (Sorry, I missed "Oh, hi!" in the previous question )

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    Default Re: sequence of tenses

    greengorush: But your explanation will be more useful anyway :)

    You're being too modest! You came up with the explanation.

    To add a little:
    'to know' is an all-or-nothing verb: you either know something or you don't, yes, no. There are no Continuous forms for ''to know" - we can't say, "I am knowing the way to San Jose" or "I was knowing the way...".
    So, the moment of speaking, NOW, is a knife-edge: one second I didn't know he worked here, the next I realize he does. It is much more likely that the person is commenting on his previous experience of 'not knowing' up until he walked in and saw him working there - as you say: "The speaker refers to a period that had lasted until he saw the person working there."

    OK. OK.

    So - why are we far more likely to say:
    "I didn't know that water boils at 100ļ Celsius.
    and even more (exaggerating for emphasis):
    "I didn't know there are stars in the sky."

    Why Past tense in the examples above, yet Present tense in these sentences?

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