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Thread: tenses

  1. #1
    FW Guest

    Default tenses

    Is this correct:

    "He was sitting on his bed. He shivered and coughed very badly. I went up to him and gave him his medecine. In a short while it all stopped and he was back to normal again."

    I know it would be better to use "was shivering and coughing" instead of "shivered and coughed", but it seems to me that in this case, given the context (we know that he shivered and he coughed until the medecine had its effet) the simple past tense can do the job as well. Am I right? Is the text acceptable?

  2. #2
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    It suggests that he started coughin when you arrived, rather than describing the situation in general, so it's possible, but unlikely. BTW- it's spelled 'medicine'.

  3. #3
    RonBee's Avatar
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    Default Re: tenses

    Quote Originally Posted by FW
    Is this correct:

    "He was sitting on his bed. He shivered and coughed very badly. I went up to him and gave him his medecine. In a short while it all stopped and he was back to normal again."

    I know it would be better to use "was shivering and coughing" instead of "shivered and coughed", but it seems to me that in this case, given the context (we know that he shivered and he coughed until the medecine had its effet) the simple past tense can do the job as well. Am I right? Is the text acceptable?
    I think the simple past tense is fine there, but I would change the second sentence somewhat. In the original, you have very badly modifying both shivered and coughed, and I don't think that is the intention. Perhaps: "He shivered, and he coughed very badly."

    What do you think?

  4. #4
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    Default Re: tenses

    Quote Originally Posted by FW
    Is this correct:

    "He was sitting on his bed. He shivered and coughed very badly. I went up to him and gave him his medecine. In a short while it all stopped and he was back to normal again."

    I know it would be better to use "was shivering and coughing" instead of "shivered and coughed", but it seems to me that in this case, given the context (we know that he shivered and he coughed until the medecine had its effet) the simple past tense can do the job as well. Am I right? Is the text acceptable?
    I would combine the first two sentences:

    He was sitting on his bed, coughing very badly and shivering. <I inverted the shivering and coughing to resolve Ron's issue.>

  5. #5
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    Default Re: tenses

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeNewYork
    I would combine the first two sentences:

    He was sitting on his bed, coughing very badly and shivering.
    That is also good.

    :wink:

  6. #6
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    :D :D :D

  7. #7
    FW Guest

    Default

    Thanks everybody.
    I did want the "very badly" to modify both verbs, but to tell you the truth RONBEE, your comment is useful because it clears things up and shows how to modify one single verb if that is what one wants to do.
    As for my spelling mistake, sorry TDOL.
    Mike's version is doubtlessly better than mine and I myself use (or try to use) the continuous tense in these contexts. I just wanted to see if the other one could work.

    By the way, what do you think of the way "it" has been used in the last sentence? Is it OK? It should refer to the coughing and shaking badly.

    He was coughing and shaking. I gave him his medicine and IT stopped. (meaning the coughing and shaking stopped. Is that OK or should it be "he stopped"?)

  8. #8
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    IT is fine, even though there are two symptoms and only one person. The pronoun refers to the symptoms as a whole.

  9. #9
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    Re:

    He was coughing and shaking. I gave him his medicine and it stopped.
    I like shaking there better than shivering. It suggests that there is something seriously wrong. There is no need for "very badly" there. It is perfectly clear what it refers to in the second sentence. However, you might want to change that if you wish to go into more detail. For example: "I gave him his medicine and the coughing and shaking gradually subsided."

    What do you think?

    :)

  10. #10
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    It depends on the illness- if he had a fever, I'd probably use 'shivering'.

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