I (have) tried everything

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Phoebe1200

Senior Member
Russian-Russia
School of rock, TV series
Context: While searching to find her role in the band, Summer sets out to become the band's songwriter, but has difficulty finding any true inspiration. After multiple failures to write a great song, she shows up to school in a disheveled state and completely crestfallen and says.

I tried everything but I couldn't do it. I will never write a great song for the band.

I couldn't hear exactly which tense she used but I think it was past simple.
Can both present perfect and past simple be used here?
And if 'yes", I'd be grateful if you could tell me what the difference is in each case.
 
  • DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    I tried everything but I couldn't do it. I will never write a great song for the band.

    I couldn't hear exactly which tense she used but I think it was past simple.
    Can both present perfect and past simple be used here?
    And if 'yes", I'd be grateful if you could tell me what the difference is in each case.
    Either will work, but you need to make sure the tenses match in the rest of the sentence:

    (1) I tried everything but I couldn't do it. I will never write a great song for the band.
    (2) I've tried everything but I can't do it. I will never write a great song for the band.

    Version (1) places more emphasis on the finality of her failure: I'd probably opt for (2) in view of the following sentence about never being able to do it - not now, nor in the future. :)
     

    karlalou

    Banned
    母国語:日本語
    Is it the same reason that the main clause of this sentence is in present perfect tense?
    They've told us (that) they're not coming. (Oxford Dictionary)
    Is it unfavorable to say "They told us that they're not coming"?
     

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    Is it the same reason that the main clause of this sentence is in present perfect tense?
    They've told us (that) they're not coming. (Oxford Dictionary)
    Is it unfavorable to say "They told us that they're not coming"?
    I can't tell why they chose to use the perfect tense in that particular example.

    But in the sentence as it stands, with no context, I'd expect the usual pattern of tense sequencing to apply and for the simple past to be followed by a backshifted tense, giving you:
    They told us (that) they were not coming.
     

    karlalou

    Banned
    母国語:日本語
    Thank you, DonnyB.

    I try to create my own. How about these?:
    A: "I wonder if Tom and Mary have decided to come."
    B: "They've told us they're not coming this time."

    A: "I wonder if Tom and Mary decided to come."
    B: "They told us they were not coming this time."

    I feel it's easier to understand if it's in a narrative writing, it will be like "We wanted very much for them to come join us that time, but they told us they were not coming."
     
    Last edited:

    Phoebe1200

    Senior Member
    Russian-Russia
    Either will work, but you need to make sure the tenses match in the rest of the sentence:

    (1) I tried everything but I couldn't do it. I will never write a great song for the band.
    (2) I've tried everything but I can't do it. I will never write a great song for the band.

    Version (1) places more emphasis on the finality of her failure: I'd probably opt for (2) in view of the following sentence about never being able to do it - not now, nor in the future. :)
    Thanks so much for your explanation, Donny!:)

    So, this is impossible?

    I've tried everything but I couldn't do it.
     

    karlalou

    Banned
    母国語:日本語
    Thanks again, DonnyB. :)

    Oh, sorry. I didn't notice you two are were talking..
     
    Last edited:
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