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    #1

    Choice between simple present tense and past tense when referring to past events

    Hi there, how are you today? I have a question about the usage of English tense. Could you explain the use of tense in the following paragraph? (bold italic added)
    "In the 16th c. there are some traces of a perception that the word might have an extended application to other languages. But it was not before the 17 th c. that it became so completely a generic term that there was any need to speak explicitly of 'Latin grammar'."
    My question is: why does the first sentence use "are" while the others use Simple Past Tense when they both refer to past events? thank you!

  1. bhaisahab's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Choice between simple present tense and past tense when referring to past events

    Please cite the source of that text.
    “Every miserable fool who has nothing at all of which he can be proud, adopts as a last resource pride in the nation to which he belongs; he is ready and happy to defend all its faults and follies tooth and nail, thus reimbursing himself for his own inferiority.”

    — Arthur Schopenhauer

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    #3

    Re: Choice between simple present tense and past tense when referring to past events

    Thank you. The paragraph in question was cited from OED: "grammar, n. 1.a.", you can find the same paragraph on this web page:
    http://www.omniglot.com/blog/?p=8604
    Last edited by Rover_KE; 25-Jan-2016 at 12:53.

  2. teechar's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: Choice between simple present tense and past tense when referring to past events

    Assuming it's not a typo, it would be like saying, "We can see (that in the 16th century) there are some traces ... etc." Because the analysis (we see) is done now, the present tense is used. That's the only possible explanation I can think of.

    I don't think it's good English, and I would much prefer the past simple instead.

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    #5

    Re: Choice between simple present tense and past tense when referring to past events

    I think the writer has implied a few omitted words: "In the record of 16th c. writings there are some traces...."
    I am not a teacher.

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