Before I went/go

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detach8

New Member
English
I have searched specifically for my usage context before I posted this question. There were a few other discussions such as would you learn before you went / go ? and I thought you (had) met her before you went to university. but none of them provided exact answers to my context:

My friend and I had a debate because he said this:

"Wanted to let you know I got married a week ago before I went posting on Facebook."

I said: "Congrats! I didn't see anything on Facebook."
He responded: "I haven't posted anything yet."

So my response was that he used "went posting", i.e. he had already posted. It should have been "go posting" instead.

Thoughts?
 
  • dojibear

    Senior Member
    English - US
    Your friend is correct.

    So my response was that he used "went posting", i.e. he had already posted.
    That is wrong. He did not say "I went posting", which is past tense. He said "before I went posting", which is not past tense.

    When I was a kid, they taught us about "subjunctive" verbs, which in English have the same form as past tense verbs. I'm not sure how it is explained in modern grammar. But English has "theoretical" verbs that look like past tense, but aren't. In this before clause "went posting" is theoretical: he did not go posting in Facebook before telling you.
     

    tunaafi

    Senior Member
    English - British (Southern England)
    In this before clause "went posting" is theoretical: he did not go posting in Facebook before telling you.
    I don't think 'went' is subjunctive. We can't be certain, because the past subjunctive forms of all verbs except BE are the same as the indicative forms. If we try a sentence with BE, we see that it's the indicative form that is used: "I wanted to let you know before I were was arrested".

    In the original sentence, " (I) Wanted to let you know I got married a week ago before I went posting on Facebook" the speaker is backshifting the tense of his thoughts at the time of the non-posting: "I want to let X know before I go posting on Facebook'.
     
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