SEQUENCES OF TENSES

schlechte horror spiele den der ler sidst ler bedst Sequence of tenses refer to the tense harmony in the English language. The table below show the most common auxiliary verbs in the present and past tenses.

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PRESENT                                                     PAST

 

am/is/are                                                         was/were

do/ does (present simple)                           did (past simple)

have/ has                                                         had

will                                                                    would

can                                                                    could

 

We must pay attention to sequence of tenses in adverbial clauses, if clauses, result clauses and purpose clauses.

 

NOUN CLAUSES

In noun clauses, if the main clause is in present tense, the tense in the noun clause does not change. Therefore if the main clause is in the present tense, then, the noun clause can be either in the present or the past tense.

 

Present + present 

think that he will sell his car.

We know he has a lot of money.

It has been stated that the oil prices are getting higher and higher.

don’t know where he lives.

think he has seen us.

 

Present + past

think that Jill was ill yesterday.

don’t know where they went last night.

 

 

If the noun clause is in past tense, then the noun clause must also be in the past tenseç

Past + past

thought that he would sell his car.

We knew he had a lot of money.

It had been stated that the oil prices were getting higher and higher.

didn’t know where he lived.

thought he had seen us.

 

 

SEQUENCES OF TIME IN ADVERBIAL CLAUSES OF TIME

  1. A) USE OF PRESENT TENSE IN THE SUBCLAUSE

For the conjunctions connoting time (such as when, as, before, as soon as, etc.), if the subclause is constructe in the present tense (present simple tense or the present perfect tense), then the main clause would be formed by using either present simple, present, or future forms (will, can, may, should, imperative etc.).

 

ADVERBIAL CLAUSE, MAIN CLAUSE

(Present simple, Present Simple)

Before I sleep, I usually pray.

As soon as the children arrive home, they take off their school uniforms.

When it rains, we usually go for a walk.

We drink tea after we have dinner.

 

ADVERBIAL CLAUSE, MAIN CLAUSE

(Present simple, will/can/imperative, etc.)

Once he makes up his mind, no one can stop him.

When my father comes, I will tell him everything.

As soon as I see the cat, you should catch him.

Before I leave the office, I will turn off the heater.

You will wait here until the bus arrives.

Heat the water until it boils.

 

Using present perfect simple in the subclause emphasizes completion, and shows that the action will be followed by another.

 

ADVERBIAL CLAUSE, MAIN CLAUSE

(Present perfect simple, present simple/will/can/imperative, etc.)

 After I have read the book, I will return it to the library.

As soon as they have finished the meal, they will start to work.

You should lock the doors when everybody has left the hotel.

 (In the subclause, we can also use “while, as, when” with present continuous tense.

 

ADVERBIAL CLAUSE, MAIN CLAUSE

(Present continuous, present simple)

While/As/When I am travelling, I read a book.

 

Might and could are formed in the past. These two modals can also be used to refer to present or future possibilities. When used in this sense, the rule of sequence of tenses would not be breached.

When he comes home, there might be no one inside.

 

 

  1. B) THE USE OF PAST TENSES IN THE SUBCLAUSE

In sentences constructed with subclauses conveying time, if the subclause is in the past tense, then the main sentence also has to be formed by using the past tense or past forms (such as would, could, used to, etc.).

 

ADVERBIAL CLAUSE, MAIN CLAUSE

(Past Simple, Past Simple) 

When I saw Jane, I said hello to her.

He started to read as soon as he received the message.

After the rain stopped, we went out to play in the street.

turned off the computer before my father arrived home.

 

ADVERBIAL CLAUSE, MAIN CLAUSE

(Past Perfect Simple, Past Simple)

When she had cleaned the house, she went to bed.

After everybody had left the building, the police locked its door.

As soon as we had finished the work, we showed it to the boss.

 

ADVERBIAL CLAUSE, MAIN CLAUSE

(Past Continuous, Past Simple)

While/When/As John was playing football, he broke his leg.

While/When/As we were walking, it was raining gently.

 

ADVERBIAL CLAUSE, MAIN CLAUSE

(Past Simple, Past Perfect)

By the time the police arrived at the crime scene, the robbers had already escaped.

When the birds left the tree, the cat had caught one of them.

Before we started the journey, Helen had visited us.

 

 Please compare the sentences below:

  • When I amin Paris, I often walk along the river seine.
  • When I wasin Paris, I often walked along the river seine.
  • By the time the conference starts, I will have finishedthe project.
  • By the time the conference started, I had finishedthe report.
  • After Helen has finishedthe report, she will send it to the director.
  • After Helen had finishedthe report, she sent it to the director.

 

Please compare the correct and wrong uses below:

  • When I wasin America, I played (correct: subclause past, main clause past)
  • When I amin America, I will play rugby. (correct: subclause present, main clause present)
  • When I wasin America, I play (wrong: subclause past, main clause present)
  • When I amin America, I would play rugby. (wrong: subclause present, main clause past)

 

 

 

 

RESULT CLAUSES (SO /SUCH…THAT)

 

Phrases connoting result are required to have correct sequence of tenses. Both sides of the sentence have to be either in the “present+present” form or the “past+past” form.

 

Present + present

He is so clever that he can solve complex problems.

Jill is such a helpful girl that her friends like her a lot.

 

Past + past

It was such a cold winter that we ran out of coal.

They walked so fast that we couldn’t catch them.

 

 

PURPOSE CLAUSES (SO THAT, IN CASE)

Phrases  formed by using “so that” and “in case” must be in line with the rule of the sequence of tenses. Both sides of the sentence have to be either in the “present+present” form or the “past+past” form.

 

We are painting the house so that it will look better.

recorded the wedding so that I could watch it later.

 

You should take a compass with you in case you get lost in the forest.

took my umbrella in case it rained.