The Sequence of Tenses

The Sequence of Tenses :

Study the following sentences.

1. She told me that she required the money.
2. She replied that I had no money.
3. I never thought that I would see my son again.
4. She worked hard that she might succeed.
5. I noted that the television worked well.

It may be noted that a past tense in the principal clause is followed by a past tense in the sub-clause.

1. Jawaharlal Nehru said India has vast natural resources.

2. Gandhi always believed that honesty is the best policy.

3. Euclid was able to prove that the three angles of a triangle are equal to hundred and eighty degrees or two right angles.

4. Galileo found that the Earth moves round the Sun.

5. Sir Isaac Newton discovered that the earth has gravitational pull.

When universal truth is expressed, the sub-clause may be in present tense. In the above sentences, it may be noted the main clause contains past tense, whereas, each sub clause has only present tense verb as it spells out all-time truth or universal truth.

1. I met him oftener than I meet him now this year.
2. He helped his friends more than he helps his own family.
3. She loved you better than she loves me.

It may be noted, when the sub-clause is introduced by than, even if there is a Past Tense in the principal clause, it may be followed by any tense required according to circumstances in this subordinate clause.

1. I think that I had done that.
2. She knows that her husband will come.
3. He still thinks that his dead wife will come back one day.
4. I know that you are always clever.
5. God only knows what will happen tomorrow.

It may be noted a present or future tense in the principal clause may be followed by any tense as required by circumstance.

1. We eat that we may live.
2. We will take care of any sick person so that he springs back to life.
3. We will live or die to see that the nation lives.
4. We pray so that all may be prosperous.
5. She will nurse her husband that he may live.

It may be noted, if the subordinate clause denotes purpose, the verb must be in present tense, provided the verb in the principal clause is present or future.

Study the following.

1. Could you doubt that there is a God?
2. When the sun set, he came home.
3. I wished that 1 were a millionaire.
4. He went to Saudi Arabia in order that he might become rich.
5. You can go only if you are permitted.
6. She came oftener than we expected.
7. The army advanced as far as it dared.
8. Answer the question before you proceed further.
9. I finished first though I began late.
10. He ran as quickly as he could.

The Sequence of Tenses

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