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    #1

    Exclamation HELP!why do you say i didnt know you HAD a brother,or i didnt know you WERE so smart?

    why do you say i didnt know you HAD a brother instead of i didnt know you HAVE a brother, or i didnt know he WAS studying law instead of i didnt know he is studying law?? what is this grammatical form called and what are the rulees?? please i need help asap!!

  1. Nightmare85's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: HELP!why do you say i didnt know you HAD a brother,or i didnt know you WERE so sm

    ***Neither a teacher nor a native speaker.***

    Quote Originally Posted by meluvdance7 View Post
    Why do you say, "I didn't know you HAD a brother" instead of, "I didn't know you HAVE a brother", or, "I didn't know he WAS studying law" instead of, "I didn't know he is studying law"?? What is this grammatical form called and what are the rules?? Please, I need help as soon as possible!
    Hello and welcome.
    It's okay if you have a bit stress, but it's not okay not to take your time when you write a text.
    As you can see there were a lot of mistakes due to "speed-typing".
    And please use full words, not things like "asap".

    Yes, it is correct to say:
    I didn't know you had a brother.
    I didn't know he was studying law.

    We use this structure to hold the tenses.
    In these examples the words "had" and "was" are conjunctives.
    Many people think that it's past, but it's not past.

    I didn't know you had a brother once.
    I didn't know you had a brother in the past.
    I didn't know he was studying law once.
    I didn't know he was studying law in the past.
    Now this would be "real" past.

    Some people ignore the rule and just say:
    I didn't know you have a brother.
    I didn't know he is studying law.

    Yes, it may avoid confusion, but don't expect to pass a test...

    P.S. I'm sorry I don't know its correct name (what grammar type it is.)

    Cheers!

  2. fighting spirit's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: HELP!why do you say i didnt know you HAD a brother,or i didnt know you WERE so sm

    That's called "Sequence of Tenses".

    When you have such sentences, you ought to know that the verb in the introductory or main clause controls the tense of the verb in the noun clause.

    If the main clause is in the present tense, the verb in the noun clause can be in any tense.
    *I know that you have a brother.

    -both verbs are in the present tense

    if the main clause is in the past tense, the verb in the noun clause usually takes past form too.
    * I didn't know you had a brother.

    -both verbs take past form. This "had" does not refer to the past but to the present, meaning you still have a brother.

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    #4

    Re: HELP!why do you say i didnt know you HAD a brother,or i didnt know you WERE so sm

    Quote Originally Posted by Nightmare85 View Post
    In these examples the words "had" and "was" are conjunctives.
    Do you mean the conjunctive (subjunctive) mood?
    I don't think they are in this mood. This is not the case where this mood is used in English. Maybe the following argument will convince you.

    You must surely know that the past subjunctive form of "be" is "were" in every grammatical person. But it would be incorrect to say, "I knew he were right." This is not where we use the conjunctive/subjunctive mood. We should say, "I knew he was right." The conjunctive form appears in this sentence: "If he were right I would know it."

    Please note that nowadays most people say simply, "If he was right I would know it." They don't use the conjunctive mood in this sentence.

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    #5

    Re: HELP!why do you say i didnt know you HAD a brother,or i didnt know you WERE so sm

    I have a question too. Is it always incorrect to say, "I knew he has a brother"?

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    #6

    Re: HELP!why do you say i didnt know you HAD a brother,or i didnt know you WERE so sm

    Well, some claim it's not while others claim it is. I think it's not incorrect. As far as the sequence of tenses in concerned, there is an exception when the noun clause reports a general truth.

    Having a brother is a general truth, isn't it?

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    #7

    Re: HELP!why do you say i didnt know you HAD a brother,or i didnt know you WERE so sm

    Quote Originally Posted by fighting spirit View Post
    Well, some claim it's not while others claim it is. I think it's not incorrect. As far as the sequence of tenses in concerned, there is an exception when the noun clause reports a general truth.

    Having a brother is a general truth, isn't it?
    My thoughts exactly...

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    #8

    Re: HELP!why do you say i didnt know you HAD a brother,or i didnt know you WERE so sm

    Quote Originally Posted by birdeen's call View Post
    I have a question too. Is it always incorrect to say, "I knew he has a brother"?
    Yes, it is.

    Rover

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    #9

    Re: HELP!why do you say i didnt know you HAD a brother,or i didnt know you WERE so sm

    Quote Originally Posted by birdeen's call View Post
    I have a question too. Is it always incorrect to say, "I knew he has a brother"?
    ********** NOT a teacher **********

    Hello, birdeen's call.

    (1) Is it "always incorrect" to say I knew (that) he has a brother?

    (2) I most respectfully suggest that the answer is: NO.

    (3) Of course, learners should follow "the rule." Therefore:

    I knew that he had a brother.

    (4) I know, however, that you are an advanced learner and that you

    want to know why.

    (5) I think that I have found a wonderful answer in a book by the

    famous grammarian Otto Jespersen.

    (6) If I understand him correctly, he says that native speakers use the

    past tense in the second part (had) because of "mental inertia" (that is

    -- in my words, not the professor's -- mental laziness). He explains that

    we start with a past (knew), and "mental inertia" prevents us from

    realizing that we are now moving to the present. Here is his great

    example:

    You are here!!! I didn't know!!!

    Logically the sentence should be:

    I didn't know that you are here!

    The professor says that when we start with didn't know, our mind is

    moving so fast that we just continue speaking in the past (were here).

    (7) Logicially, then, your sentence "should" be:

    I knew that he has a brother (if his brother is still living). But

    "the rule" tells us that the sentence is "bad" English.

    (8) By the way, this whole subject comes under the heading of

    sequence of tenses. When you have time, please google

    that term. You will probably find some great results.

    THANK YOU for your question. I learned a lot.

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    #10

    Re: HELP!why do you say i didnt know you HAD a brother,or i didnt know you WERE so sm

    That is an interesting thread. Thanks to all posters for your contributions.

    I just would like to point out this interesting old thread:
    https://www.usingenglish.com/forum/a...404-tense.html

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