Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 11
  1. Unregistered
    Guest
    #1

    Which Tense

    I am not sure of the proper use of tense in the following:

    “Mrs C. said that she would review the child’s case and ascertain whether the authorities need(ed) to be informed”

    This begins using the past tense, stating that Mrs C had earlier SAID something - although I’m not too sure whether her saying that “she WOULD REVIEW the case and ASCERTAIN “ is still in the past!

    I have particular difficulty deciding whether the word NEED(ED) should use the present form (NEED) or the past form (NEEDED).

    If the case is still on-going (and there is still a NEED which has not been satisfied) , must the present form be used, or should I use the past form, as this is reporting something which Mrs C had previously SAID?

    Conversely, if the case is over and done with (and there is no longer any needs) I’m not sure whether the present tense (NEED) should be used here, because the word ASCERTIAN is in the present form

    Many thanks to whoever can help me out with this!

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States

    • Join Date: Jan 2008
    • Posts: 2,944
    #2

    Re: Which Tense

    “Mrs C. said that she would review the child’s case (in the future) and (would) ascertain whether the authorities (would then need) to be informed”

    Keep the entire sentence in the same tense.

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • UK

    • Join Date: Oct 2006
    • Posts: 45
    #3

    Re: Which Tense

    Thank you Susiedqq,

    Can I ask whether all the words which you have put in brackets need to be used, or is some of it implied?

    Are the words ‘in the future’ implied by writing that Mrs C ‘would review’ the case?

    And does the word ‘ascertain’ need to be preceded by ‘would’, or does the same (future) tense used in the previous clause apply to this clause; I would rather not have to use the word ‘would’ three times in the same sentence, as it sounds rather long-winded.

    Does this re-wording of the sentence imply the same tense throughout:

    “Mrs C, said that she WOULD review the case and ascertain whether the authorities WOULD NEED TO BE informed”

    Many thanks!

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States

    • Join Date: Jan 2008
    • Posts: 2,944
    #4

    Re: Which Tense

    “Mrs C. said that she would review the child’s case (in the future) and (would) ascertain whether the authorities (would then need) to be informed”

    I wanted to show how to keep the entire sentence in the same tense.

    My point was that the verbs "review" and "acertain" need to be in the same tense. It could be stated in the past tense, too.

    “Mrs C. said that she reviewed the child’s case and ascertained whether the authorities would be informed”

    The clause "whether the authorities . . . informed" can show action to be done in the present or future or conditional.

    "whether the authorities are to be informed."

    "whether the authorities will be informed"

    "whether the authorities would be informed."


    • Join Date: Aug 2006
    • Posts: 3,059
    #5

    Re: Which Tense

    Quote Originally Posted by Unregistered View Post
    I am not sure of the proper use of tense in the following:

    “Mrs C. said that she would review the child’s case and ascertain whether the authorities need(ed) to be informed”

    This begins using the past tense, stating that Mrs C had earlier SAID something - although I’m not too sure whether her saying that “she WOULD REVIEW the case and ASCERTAIN “ is still in the past!

    The backshifting that occurs when speech is reported is not an actual change in tense, Richard, it's a change in tense FORM. The difference is crucial to understanding how direct versus reported speech works.

    The person reporting isn't under any obligation to figure out whether this is over with or not. They can just report the situation and by using reporting verbs, they are, in effect, saying, "hey, I'm not quoting directly, I'm just giving a fair representation of what was said".


    I have particular difficulty deciding whether the word NEED(ED) should use the present form (NEED) or the past form (NEEDED).

    Neither need nor needed is needed. There are reasons we choose one or the other but again, it's not an issue of actual tense.

    If the case is still on-going (and there is still a NEED which has not been satisfied) , must the present form be used,

    No, though you can and if the situation is seen as particularly current, the often ENLs will choose this form.

    or should I use the past form, as this is reporting something which Mrs C had previously SAID?

    You can use the past form, WHICH, and this is important, tells the listener that it is reported speech.

    Conversely, if the case is over and done with (and there is no longer any needs) I’m not sure whether the present tense (NEED) should be used here, because the word ASCERTIAN is in the present form

    Many thanks to whoever can help me out with this!
    Now that you understand why we actually switch to past tense FORMs you can easily figure this out for yourself.


    • Join Date: Aug 2006
    • Posts: 3,059
    #6

    Re: Which Tense

    See also:

    https://www.usingenglish.com/forum/a...tml#post253120

    which has a further link to a discussion on this issue of reported speech.

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • UK

    • Join Date: Oct 2006
    • Posts: 45
    #7

    Re: Which Tense

    Thank you forum members, I feel that I my understanding of the use of the word WOULD needs to be worked on.

    As a start can I put aside the issue of backshift for the time being and ask for clarification on these two matters:

    1)
    When talking about two or more things I WOULD do, I'm still not sure if the word WOULD needs to be constantly repeated to ensure I am employing the same tense throughout, eg does sentence A) have the same meaning as sentence B)

    A) "I WOULD creep downstairs, ensuring that I woke none of the other residents, enter the kitchen and raid the fridge"

    B) "I WOULD creep donwstairs, and WOULD ensure that I woke none of the other residents, WOULD enter the kitchen, and WOULD raid the firidge"

    2)
    When using the word WOULD, how do I distinguish between something I USED TO DO (i have read that WOULD can be used instead of USED TO), and something I WOULD DO IN THE FUTURE if the need arose, eg:

    C) I WOULD phone the police (on a regular basis)

    D) I WOULD (if the situation arose) phone the police.

    Many thanks! I really appreciate your expertise and your time!


    • Join Date: Aug 2006
    • Posts: 3,059
    #8

    Re: Which Tense

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Togher View Post
    Thank you forum members, I feel that I my understanding of the use of the word WOULD needs to be worked on.
    As a native speaker, you understand perfectly, albeit, unconsciously, the uses of 'would', Richard. As a native speaker, there is no absolute need to consciously understand the use of anything. It won't/wouldn't help your language abilities at all.

    I'm not, in any way, shape or form, trying to dissuade you from seeking greater understanding.

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • UK

    • Join Date: Oct 2006
    • Posts: 45
    #9

    Re: Which Tense

    Thank you for that, but I am actually looking for an answer to my 2 questions given above, if any one can help me!
    Many thanks!

  2. #10

    Smile Re: Which Tense

    Richard, this is good:

    1)A) "I WOULD creep downstairs, ensuring that I woke none of the other residents, enter the kitchen and raid the fridge"

    In B) 'would' is overused and superfluous. You got it right in A)

    This is good:

    C) I WOULD phone the police (on a regular basis)

    You could also say I would have phoned the police (this means roughly the same as 'used to' in the context you mentioned).

    D) I WOULD (if the situation arose) phone the police.

    In short, it is difficult to distinguish the very slight difference in meaning of C) and D) but you needn't be too concerned about that. You seem at least to know that there are different nuances to the same words.

    SB

Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast

Similar Threads

  1. present perfect tense & present perfect continuous tense
    By *zaizai~love* in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: 30-Oct-2008, 23:06
  2. Specific question about Present Continuous/Simple Tense
    By learner2007 in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 05-Aug-2007, 18:43
  3. present perfect tense
    By svartnik in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 15-Dec-2006, 13:16
  4. IF
    By Anonymous in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 7
    Last Post: 04-Mar-2004, 01:49
  5. Do we have future tense?
    By shun in forum Teaching English
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 07-Oct-2003, 17:06

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
  •