it turns/turned out

raymondaliasapollyon

Senior Member
Chinese
Hi,

I'm confused about the choice between "turns out" and "turned out." Very often the former is used even when we talk about past events.
For example:

I started talking to her and - yada yada yada - it turns out she’s from New York too.

But other times, the past tense is also used to talk about past events:

To my surprise, it turned out that I was wrong.

Could anyone tell me how to choose the present and past versions, please?

I'd appreciate your help.
 
  • Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    You were wrong about some particular thing in the past. You're not wrong now. However, it's still true that she's still from New York.
     

    raymondaliasapollyon

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    But "It turns out that the estimates were way off base" describes past estimates that are no longer accepted.

    "It turns out I was sitting next to none other than the founder of the magazine" means the speaker is no longer sitting wit the founder.
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    …it turns out that she’s from New York too (I now know that the fact is …)
    …it turned out that she’s from New York too (I discovered at that time that the fact is …)

    To my surprise, it turns out that I was wrong

    (implying that you’ve only now discovered that you were wrong in the past)
    To my surprise, it turned out that I was wrong
    (implying that you discovered at that time that you were wrong)
     

    raymondaliasapollyon

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    But "it turns out" does not always mean the understanding has only now occurred.
    "It turns out I was sitting next to none other than the founder of the magazine" means the speaker became aware of the situation maybe last weekend during a sports game.
     

    reno33

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    It is very common in AmerE (spoken Engl but transitioning into written Engl) for the speaker to be narrating a past event and then suddenly placing himself in that past and speaking as if it is the present. For example:

    " Mary invited me to dinner last week on Monday.(past) So, on Monday( past). I show up at 6 pm, open the door and right away, sit down at the table. Her mother looks at me with total contempt." (event taking place in the past but narrated as if it is in the present.)

    There must be a name for this linguistic feature but I don't know what it is, All I know is it happens all the time in AmerE.
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    It turns out… is the simple present. (Not the historic present!)

    The example in #5 would normally be expressed as “It turned out” — meaning “but I realized [at the time]”.
     

    raymondaliasapollyon

    Senior Member
    Chinese
    It is very common in AmerE (spoken Engl but transitioning into written Engl) for the speaker to be narrating a past event and then suddenly placing himself in that past and speaking as if it is the present. For example:

    " Mary invited me to dinner last week on Monday.(past) So, on Monday( past). I show up at 6 pm, open the door and right away, sit down at the table. Her mother looks at me with total contempt." (event taking place in the past but narrated as if it is in the present.)

    There must be a name for this linguistic feature but I don't know what it is, All I know is it happens all the time in AmerE.
    If Historical Present, as you suggest, is at work in the present-tense examples I cited, shouldn't the material in the that-clauses have been cast in the present tense as well?
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    The example in #5 is actually taken from Merriam-Webster's Advanced Learner's Dictionary.
    That doesn’t alter my opinion. If it had been expressed as [what happens in the story is] “It turns out I’m sitting next to none other than the founder of the magazine”, that would be the historic present.
     
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