Ever since he had stopped smoking, he would...

Nightowll

Senior Member
Italian
Someone was trying to quit smoking by chewing on licorice sticks instead of smoking.

Ever since he had stopped smoking, he would chew on licorice sticks when he got cravings.

Is this sentence OK? According to dictionaries, would is used to talk about things in the past that happened often or always. Can I use would this way when the repetitive action happened in a certain period of time (ever since he had stopped smoking), not all the time?
 
  • lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Yes, that use of would is fine. But I don’t think you can use “since” at all unless you use a perfect tense in the main clause.

    Since stopping smoking, he had chewed on licorice sticks when he got cravings. :tick:
    After he had stopped smoking, he would chew on licorice sticks when he got cravings. :tick:
     

    se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Ever since he had stopped smoking, he would chew on licorice sticks when he got cravings.
    This is an interesting and tricky question. I would say "Ever since he stopped smoking he has chewed on liquorice sticks whenever he gets cravings".

    I think "had" is wrong. What justifies the past perfect?

    I am not comfortable with "would"
    - "ever since" implies "often or always", so "would" is redundant.
    - Modal verbs do not have a present perfect tense, and I think that past tense "would" sounds odd here, in a position where one would expect the present perfect. If you insist on using a modal, I suggest "will" not "would".
     
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    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    The sentence is OK, but it is in the written style - I doubt that anyone would say it, as opposed to writing it as part of a narrative.
     

    Nightowll

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Thank you! :)

    So if I use would I have to use after instead of since, because since can be used only with a perfect tense.

    And you can say, "(Ever) since something happened, he had ..." only as part of a past-tense narrative. When you use (ever) since while speaking, you have to use the present perfect tense.
     

    se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    since can be used only with a perfect tense.
    I wouldn’t go that far. The point is that the word since is often used to discuss an action that continued from a past time to the present period, and we use the present perfect tense for that kind of action.

    The interesting conclusion from this thread for me is that modal verbs seem to have a present perfect tense when used in an epistemic sense, but not to have a present perfect tense when used in a deontic sense.

    Epistemic conjugation:
    I am not sure but I suspect he has been working in the garden for 3 hours.
    ==> He may have been working in the garden for the last 3 hours. :tick:

    Deontic conjugation:
    He has obstinately been working in the garden for the last 3 hours.
    =/=> He would work in the garden for the last three hours. :eek:
     
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    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    So if I use would I have to use after instead of since, because since can be used only with a perfect tense.
    It’s not a bad rule of thumb to think that you can only use since with a perfect tense. The present perfect is used to report a current action or situation in direct relation to the period between a specific time or event in the past and now. And since also means from a specific point in the past [up to the present]. The perfect match (no pun intended).
     
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    Nightowll

    Senior Member
    Italian
    Good to know! :)
    So you can say would have only when it is used in the epistemic sense.
    And since is different from after in that it is used for continuous action (up to the present).
     
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