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    • Join Date: Sep 2010
    • Posts: 2
    #1

    Post mixing past and present in the same sentence

    Hi

    I have seen some previous posts regarding this issue on this forum but it's still not clear to me whether we can use past and present tense in the same sentence. For example, he told me that he will come. I believe it should be "he told me that he would come". Thing to notice here is that that future time that was promised hasn't come yet. I am still waiting for him to come and visit me. I asked the same question to a volunteer ESL teacher at a local library, and her response was "it's ok to mix the tenses" but my years of grammar study (text book study) still pulls me back and forces me to believe that the only correct sentence can be "he told me that he would come". Please can someone shed some light and provide examples as to when we can mix the tenses in the same sentence if that is allowed at all.

    Other examples where I am confused are as following:

    1. James left and told me before leaving that in future client (will/would) contact me directly.
    2. Client said they (want/wanted) me to work on their new project. -> Is it possible that both "want" and "wanted" are correct in different contexts?

    Thank you very much,

    Regards

    Sham
    Last edited by shamrez.ahmed; 01-Sep-2010 at 16:04. Reason: changed true to correct - small error

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    #2

    Re: mixing past and present in the same sentence

    Quote Originally Posted by shamrez.ahmed View Post
    Hi
    Welcome!
    Your question is about reported speech, and perhaps you have 'heard' me say all this before.
    I have seen some previous posts regarding this issue on this forum but it's still not clear to me whether we can use past and present tense in the same sentence. Yes, you can!

    For example, he told me that he will come. I believe it should be "he told me that he would come". Here "would" is not the past tense of "will".
    "will" is definite; "would" can be conditional.
    Thing to notice here is that that future time that was promised hasn't come yet. I am still waiting for him to come and visit me. I asked the same question to a volunteer ESL teacher at a local library, and her response was "it's ok to mix the tenses" It is. You don't need to match tenses. Pay more attention to the meaning you want to express.

    Please can someone shed some light and provide examples as to when we can mix the tenses in the same sentence if that is allowed at all.
    He told me that he has two tickets for tomorrow's concert. (He has the tickets, not had them.)

    Other examples where I am confused are as following:
    1. James left and told me before leaving that in the future the client (will/would) contact me directly.
    You can use either one.

    2. Client said they (want/wanted) me to work on their new project. -> Is it possible that both "want" and "wanted" are correct in different contexts? yes
    With "want", they still want you to work on it.
    With "wanted", they possibly no longer want you to work on it. Maybe they wanted you to do it, but your boss told them that you will not be available to do it. So now they want another person to do it.
    Sham
    Many people do follow the habit of 'backshifting' tenses in reported speech, that is when reporting what someone else said, but there is no good reason to do that.


    • Join Date: Sep 2010
    • Posts: 2
    #3

    Thumbs up Re: mixing past and present in the same sentence

    Thank you so much for such a detailed explanation. I am so happy. Finally someone has cleared my confusions over the confusing mixed tense sentences. Actually, it all started when my senior (at work location) pointed out that I cannot use present tense in a reported speech. He laughed and ridiculed me by saying "go learn some English". That damaged my confidence and I was never able to get that confidence back again. It happened 4-5 years ago. I am not an English speaker but had been studying it since childhood and my lack of confidence became a big hinderance in my speaking English fluently. Anyway, Thanks again for your help and time.

    Best Regards

    Sham

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