Complex/mixed tense

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MidnightTheCat

Member
Czech
Hello!

I've noticed a somewhat complex sentence in my writing that triggered me to start overthinking the tenses it's written in. What's correct?

a) When he realizes that they have been about the closest thing to a home he had for many years, he has a decision to make.
b) When he realizes that they have been about the closest thing to a home he has had for many years, he has a decision to make.
c) When he realizes that they were about the closest thing to a home he has had for many years, he has a decision to make.

My head is spinning... Thank you for your help! :)
 
  • PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    The verb in a relative or modifying clause is independent of the verb tense in the main clause.
    "he [has] had for many years," is a modifying clause.
    The modifying clause is used to modify its antecedent/referent in the way the writer/speaker intends.

    As far as the have been/were is concerned, as a general rule, "Have been" can be followed by "and, still is/are", and "were" can be followed by "at that time" in order to distinguish.

    Thus, we see that the tense here is probably dependent upon whether or not he has found anything else that is like a "home" yet.

    (I would also question your use of "they", which is plural, and "home", which is singular, - they do not seem to fit.)
     
    Last edited:

    MidnightTheCat

    Member
    Czech
    The verb in a relative or modifying clause is independent of the verb tense in the main clause.
    "he [has] had for many years," is a modifying clause.
    The modifying clause is used to modify its antecedent/referent in the way the writer/speaker intends.

    As far as the have been/were is concerned, as a general rule, "Have been" can be followed by "and, still is/are", and "were" can be followed by "at that time" in order to distinguish.

    Thus, we see that the tense here is probably dependent upon whether or not he has found anything else that is like a "home" yet.

    (I would also question your use of "they", which is plural, and "home", which is singular, - they do not seem to fit.)
    Thank you for your clear explanation, PaulQ! It makes sense to me now :)

    Since he still hasn't found any other 'home', I'll go with have been (main clause) and has had (modifying clause). As for the 'they', it refers to 'the stars'. I see how the plural-singular mix is gramatically a bit weird but in the larger context, I think it makes sense :)
     
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