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    #1

    Sequence of tenses

    I was reading a book about the American Civil War when I came across these two sentences that really jarred me (the emphases are mine): "Edward Arista Vincent [an architect] fell ill in 1856 and passed away. Fortunately, he never knew that General Sherman ordered the [railroad] station [that he had so lovingly designed] destroyed as Union forces left Atlanta on November 14, 1864."


    I immediately thought to myself: Well, of course, he "never knew." He was dead.

    I had expected the author to write the second sentence using a tense that involved the modal "would."

    At another grammar helpline, I was told that the author's second sentence was fine.

    We members are allowed to post a question here even though we have already posted it elsewhere -- IF we sincerely want other viewpoints.

    I do.


    Thank you.

    Source of quotation: The Photographic History of the Civil War (1983) published by Fairfax Press.

  1. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Sequence of tenses

    I agree with your first thought. It is not surprising that a dead man wouldn't know things that happened after his death. That said, I really don't have a problem with the original sentence.

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