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    • Join Date: May 2009
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    #1

    tense

    Should the second verb always be in past tense if the first verb is in past tense? I have seen both the following:

    1. I forgot they took some . . . (took is in past tense)
    2. I forgot they can show . . (can is in present tense)

    Are they both correct? For the second sentence, would it be better if the word "can" is in past tense? It would read like this:

    I forgot they could show . . .

    Is there a rule I need to follow?

    Thanks,
    Brian

  1. rlfwood's Avatar

    • Join Date: Jan 2010
    • Posts: 96
    #2

    Re: tense

    The two verbs (in each of your example sentences) are dealing with separate situations, so they might be either present or past.

    For example, in your second sentence, if their ability to show still exists, then "can" would be appropriate. If you're talking about an ability that they had in the past, then "could" would be the better choice.

    Note that the past tense for the second verb is often used to express a current state, as well as a past state.

    Examples:

    1. I forgot you were at work (when I called your home earlier today).

    2. I forgot you are at work (when I dialed your cell phone number just now).

    But "were" is also frequently used in situation #2.

    • Member Info
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    #3

    Re: tense

    Thanks. I understand it now.

    • Member Info
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    #4

    Re: tense

    The following is ABSOLUTELY correct, right?


    I forgot my friend's mom lives there (my friend's mom is still alive).

  2. rlfwood's Avatar

    • Join Date: Jan 2010
    • Posts: 96
    #5

    Re: tense

    Quote Originally Posted by chanbr View Post
    The following is ABSOLUTELY correct, right?


    I forgot my friend's mom lives there (my friend's mom is still alive).
    Yes.

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