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    #1

    past tense ? your name was...

    Hello

    Many times I overheard people on the telephone saying "Sorry, I didn't get your name. Your name was XXX.

    Why do one use the past tense in this conversation. Can one use present tense "Your name is XX."

  1. Tomger's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: past tense ? your name was...

    I am not a teacher, but both sound correct in this instance.

    I think it is a matter of preference.

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    #3

    Re: past tense ? your name was...

    I doubt if that is what you heard. If the speaker did not get the other person's name, then they are not going to be able to say, "Your name was XXXX".

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    #4

    Re: past tense ? your name was...

    Quote Originally Posted by thomas615 View Post
    Hello

    Many times I overheard people on the telephone saying "Sorry, I didn't get your name. Your name was XXX.

    Why do one use the past tense in this conversation. Can one use present tense "Your name is XX."
    "Was" in this situation can be heard occasionally, and it is simply a reference as to what was said previously (the past) in the conversation with regard to the person's name. "Is" would be more appropriate and correct.

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    #5

    Re: past tense ? your name was...

    As previously pointed out, it would make no sense to say, for example "Sorry, I didn't get your name. Your name is John."

    I would expect to hear "Sorry, I didn't get your name. Your name is/was ....?" said with a rising intonation at the end to show that it's a question, not a statement, and to make it clear that you are hoping that it will be followed by the person stating their name.

    "Sorry, I didn't get your name. It's...?"
    "Oh, of course! My name is Thomas."
    "OK, thank you Thomas."

  4. 5jj's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: past tense ? your name was...

    Quote Originally Posted by billmcd View Post
    "Was" in this situation can be heard occasionally, and it is simply a reference as to what was said previously (the past) in the conversation with regard to the person's name. "Is" would be more appropriate and correct.
    Not necessarily.

    In an utterance such as emsr2d2's "Sorry, I didn't get your name. Your name is/was ....?" , it is quite possible that the name was not mentioned in the first place. The verb may be 'distanced in directness' by moving it back to the past tense. Both 'is' and 'was' are correct.

    "Distancing in Directness

    Some English course books state that the use of could and would in requests is 'more polite' than can and will, as in:

    Can/could you open the window please?
    Will/would you post this letter when you go out?

    If by 'more polite' we understand 'more diffident, more hesitant, less direct', then this is true. The reason, however, is not simply that some words are more polite than others. It is that could and would are the Marked (past-tense) forms of can and will; Marked forms distance. Here the distancing is in directness. We see exactly the same use of Marked forms for distancing in:

    What was your name?

    A: Did you want something?
    ..B: I wondered if you had a moment. I wanted to ask you about the meeting.

    It is clear from these examples that the use of the Marked form does not in itself imply reference to past time."

    from: http://www.gramorak.com/Articles/Tense.pdf




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    #7

    Question Re: past tense ? your name was...

    Quote Originally Posted by 5jj View Post
    What was your name?
    Is it possible to interpret this question this way, "What did you say your name was?" (Indirect speech; the verb, "be" is governed by the tense of the verb in the main clause. Hence the past form.)

  5. Raymott's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: past tense ? your name was...

    Quote Originally Posted by ~Mav~ View Post
    Is it possible to interpret this question this way, "What did you say your name was?" (Indirect speech; the verb, "be" is governed by the tense of the verb in the main clause. Hence the past form.)
    Yes, if you're at a party, and someone tells you their name - which of course, you forget - if you need it later, you can say, "I'm sorry, What was you name?"
    If you said "What is your name", you might give the impression that you can't even remember being told it.

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