Results 1 to 6 of 6
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Chinese
      • Home Country:
      • Taiwan
      • Current Location:
      • Taiwan

    • Join Date: Apr 2009
    • Posts: 379
    • Post Thanks / Like
    #1

    present tense or past tense?

    Dear friends,

    In the following sentenses, do you think the word 'read' should be present tense or past tense? Thank you!

    I didn't use to eat breakfast, but now I always have something to eat because I read that students who eat breakfast in the morning do better in school.

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • England
      • Current Location:
      • England

    • Join Date: Feb 2011
    • Posts: 202
    • Post Thanks / Like
    #2

    Re: present tense or past tense?

    If you leave it as it is, the reader can take it either way - perfect solution!

    However, an English reader would automatically, and rightly, understand it as written in the past tense. This is because you've already changed to eating breakfast every day, so the original reading will have been earlier and will therefore be expressed in the past. Simple.

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Chinese
      • Home Country:
      • Taiwan
      • Current Location:
      • Taiwan

    • Join Date: Apr 2009
    • Posts: 379
    • Post Thanks / Like
    #3

    Wink Re: present tense or past tense?

    Quote Originally Posted by The Dude View Post
    If you leave it as it is, the reader can take it either way - perfect solution!

    However, an English reader would automatically, and rightly, understand it as written in the past tense. This is because you've already changed to eating breakfast every day, so the original reading will have been earlier and will therefore be expressed in the past. Simple.
    Thank you, Dude, for giving me not only the answer but also the reason. Thanks!

    I also have a question about this sentense. 'I didn't use to eat breakfast' and 'I didn't used to eat breakfast', which is more common in writing? Thank you!
    Last edited by Heidi; 11-Mar-2011 at 03:44.

  1. Barb_D's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • American English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States

    • Join Date: Mar 2007
    • Posts: 18,884
    • Post Thanks / Like
    #4

    Re: present tense or past tense?

    As you do with other verbs when you have a form of "to do," you need the bare infinitive "use" with "didn't."

    I used to. I didn't use to.

    It's impossible to hear the difference in speech.

    (There is quite a bit of discussion on this topic. Some say that "didn't use to" is simply incorrect. That doesn't match current usage.)
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

  2. probus's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Canada
      • Current Location:
      • Canada

    • Join Date: Jan 2011
    • Posts: 3,024
    • Post Thanks / Like
    #5

    Re: present tense or past tense?

    To my ear "I never used to" was the only correct form.

    Up to now I had considered "I didn't use to" or "used to" the expressions of non-native speakers. But I'm always glad to learn.

  3. 5jj's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • England
      • Current Location:
      • Czech Republic

    • Join Date: Oct 2010
    • Posts: 28,135
    • Post Thanks / Like
    #6

    Re: present tense or past tense?

    Here is one discussion: grammar

Similar Threads

  1. reported speech - past tense or present tense
    By thomas615 in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 04-Mar-2011, 03:42
  2. [Grammar] Mixing past tense with present tense...
    By kellylynn in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 26-Apr-2010, 08:28
  3. a strange situation! present tense? past tense?
    By nixgnoy in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 07-Mar-2010, 18:22
  4. [Grammar] present perfect contiunous tense vs past continuous tense
    By dkyeung in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 23-Sep-2009, 12:00
  5. integrating past-tense quotes into present-tense essay
    By djtizzlemaster in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 23-Sep-2007, 03:19

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •