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    #1

    Tenses

    Hello,

    I know that in English a sentence should be structured using a single time, either past, present, or future. In most cases I am ok with that, however sometimes I find it a bit confusing.

    I wrote the following line to a friend as a reply to a link he sent me the day before:

    The link you sent said that there is only one type of income tax

    Or should it be:

    The link you sent said there was only one type of income tax

    In retrospective I would reconstruct this sentence all together, but I am generally asking about whether it was ok to use "there is" while the link was sent in the past?

    Thanks
    Ronen

    Disclaimer: I admit I asked the same question on a different English forum, but the answer I received did not rest my mind.

  1. Soup's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Tenses

    Hi Ronen

    Both are fine.

    When you want to express a fact, something that you know to be true, use the present tense:


    • The link you sent said that there is ... <fact>
    • The link you sent said that there was ... <consistent tense>

  2. Raymott's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: Tenses

    Quote Originally Posted by slepax View Post
    Hello,

    I know that in English a sentence should be structured using a single time, either past, present, or future.
    That is not true. If it were then such simple sentences as the following would be incorrect:
    Even though I've been there before, I'd like to go again.
    Are you now, or have you ever been, a member of the Communist Party?
    I've already told you that I'm not going to do that.


    I wrote the following line to a friend as a reply to a link he sent me the day before:

    The link you sent said that there is only one type of income tax

    Or should it be:

    The link you sent said there was only one type of income tax

    This second sentence is preferable. You generally move the tense back when reporting indirect speech/writing.

    In retrospective I would reconstruct this sentence all together, but I am generally asking about whether it was ok to use "there is" while the link was sent in the past?
    Yes it is. There are two clauses here, and it's quite normal for different clauses in a sentence to be in different tenses.
    Having said that, in this specific case the past tense is appropriate in both clauses because of 'back-shifting' of the tense in reported speech.
    I told him I thought Megan Fox was gorgeous. This does not mean I have changed my mind or that she is no longer gorgeous.
    R.


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    #4

    Re: Tenses

    Thank you both for your answers.

    I understand that one can mix different tenses in a sentence, but .. are there rules that impose using the same tense in certain cases? For example:

    I saw David and he said you want to help me

    I was told that the use of "want" in a sentence like that is wrong, because 'you' willingness to help was in the past and it might be that 'you' is not interested in helping any more, instead I was told to use "wanted".

    So the question here is can you use "want"? Or would it be more correct to use "wanted"?

    Thanks again!

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    #5

    Re: Tenses

    Quote Originally Posted by slepax View Post
    Thank you both for your answers.

    I understand that one can mix different tenses in a sentence, but .. are there rules that impose using the same tense in certain cases? For example:

    I saw David and he said you want to help me

    I was told that the use of "want" in a sentence like that is wrong, because 'you' willingness to help was in the past and it might be that 'you' is not interested in helping any more, instead I was told to use "wanted".

    So the question here is can you use "want"? Or would it be more correct to use "wanted"?

    Thanks again!
    In any specific case, the answer will be different.
    You generally move the tense back when reporting indirect speech/writing. - This implies that you sometimes don't.
    If you saw David just five minutes ago, and you believe that the person still wants to help you, you could use 'want'. But 'wanted' is still correct.

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