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    #1

    Past and Present Tenses

    Hello,

    I was in a debate about what forms of have can be used with a past tense sentenced. The sentences in question below.

    1. "I couldn't remember how long it's been since I've been there."
    1. "I could not remember how long it has been since I have been there."

    The argument was that because could not makes the sentence past tense, then everything else needs to be past tense as well.

    2. "I couldn't remember how long it had been since I had been there."

    To me sentence 1. seem perfectly fine, but apparently it's bad grammar. Why is that?

  1. bhaisahab's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Past and Present Tenses

    Neither sentence is natural. It would be more natural as "I couldn't remember how long it was since I had been there".

  2. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: Past and Present Tenses

    Interesting. I'd use the past perfect (for the first part).

    I can't remember how long it's been since I was [last] there.
    I couldn't remember how long it had been since I was [last] there.
    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.

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    #4

    Re: Past and Present Tenses

    This is actually the first I've heard about a natural sentences so I had to look it up. Should I avoid inverted orders if I'm engaged in creative writing?

    The answers I've seen so far were using past tense forms when the sentence was still past tense, 'was' or 'had' but none used 'have been' or 'has been' like the OP did. Is that because of an unexplained rule like avoiding passive sentences or just because it doesn't make any sense to use them like sentence 1. in the OP?

    The exception was "I can't remember how long it's been since I was [last] there.", which is present tense but uses 'it has'.

    It's a little confusing because if there was something obviously wrong, I'm sure it would have been addressed.

  3. bhaisahab's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: Past and Present Tenses

    Quote Originally Posted by Barb_D View Post
    Interesting. I'd use the past perfect (for the first part).

    I can't remember how long it's been since I was [last] there.
    I couldn't remember how long it had been since I was [last] there.

    I like those as well, Barb.

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    #6

    Re: Past and Present Tenses

    I found an answer to my original question. Thanks for everyone's assistance, it helped discover how to search for it.


    • Incorrect: I have seen him yesterday.
    • Correct: I saw him yesterday.
    • Incorrect: He has returned from London last week.
    • Correct: He returned from London last week.

    Here the error lies in using the present perfect tense instead of the simple past tense. The present perfect is a present tense. It canít be used with adverbs of past time.

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