sequence of tenses after потому что

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djwebb1969

Banned
English - England
I found this sentence in Nick Brown's Russian Learners' Dictionary:

я ушёл, потому что он там

It strikes me as odd, as in British English (not necessarily American English), you need to have sequence of tenses - I left because he WAS there (regardless of whether he is still there or not)

Is this a correct Russian sentence? Or would it be better as я ушёл, потому что он был там?
 
  • Evgeniy

    Senior Member
    Russian
    That sentence is absolutely correct. My problem is exactly the reverse: I can't get used to the requirement of making a sequence of tenses in English, it srikes me as odd. Your sentence is possible too, and to get it less academic you can change the word order: я ушёл, потому что он там был.
     
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    djwebb1969

    Banned
    English - England
    Evgeniy, you mean you should put yourself in the shoes of the person leaving, and how he would perceive his action at the time. And he would say to himself "I'm leaving because he is here" - and so the latter clause is present from the perspective of the person at the time?
     

    Evgeniy

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Evgeniy, you mean you should put yourself in the shoes of the person leaving, and how he would perceive his action at the time. And he would say to himself "I'm leaving because he is here" - and so the latter clause is present from the perspective of the person at the time?
    Exactly. You can even say "я ушёл с праздника, потому что Сергей Иваныч там" the next morning, even though, on the second thoughts, the information whether he is probably still there or not is respected when composing a sentence, and там был is likely to be said instead to make a narrative.
     

    Saluton

    Banned
    Russian
    Exactly. You can even say "я ушёл с праздника, потому что Сергей Иваныч там" the next morning
    Uh? No.

    Я ушёл с праздника, потому что Сергей Иваныч там. - he is there now
    Я ушёл с праздника, потому что Сергей Иваныч был там. - he was there before the moment of speaking
     

    Sobakus

    Senior Member
    Uh? No.

    Я ушёл с праздника, потому что Сергей Иваныч там. - he is there now
    Я ушёл с праздника, потому что Сергей Иваныч был там. - he was there before the moment of speaking
    Indeed, these two sentences mean absolutely different things. In Russian subordinate clauses, the meaning changes depending on the tense of the verb.
     

    Evgeniy

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Я вчера ушёл сразу из магазина, потому что там [было] много народу.
    In conversation, both sound perfectly well to me. I think that, since we exchange written messages here, you force all these phrases to be narrations. In spoken reality, we are more quick. I agree that my previous example may sound incomplete, even though possible. But the present tense version of the store phrase does not sound even incomplete to me, it's just quick.

    If someone told me "я ушёл оттуда, потому что он там", and I wanted to catch the person who was mentioned, then I still would not know where to go to catch him. I would have to guess.
     

    ahvalj

    Senior Member
    The sequence of tenses in the form found in Romance and modern Germanic grammars is shaped by the Latin usage. Russian didn't experience Latin influence in syntax, and in any case to the time when it could have begun, the language had already no means in the Active mood to express the sequence of tenses. The old Past Perfect and Future Perfect had been lost around 900 years ago, and in the attested old sources they were used mostly in their direct sense, i. e. for results of a preceding action respectively in the past and future and not as a technical tool to express related time in the dependent clauses. If I am not mistaken, modern Lithuanian is on the Old Russian stage in this respect: while it does possess resultative Present, Past and Future (formed as in Russian я выпивший, я был выпивший, я буду выпивший), it generally doesn't use it for the sequence of tenses in the Romance-Germanic sense, plus it lacks the Future in the Past. Bulgarian, in contrast, has developed a standard system of a Western European type with all the gaps filled.

    The Passive mood, however, has preserved in Russian the resultative construction — он отправлен/он был отправлен/он будет отправлен (that combines the meanings of two English series: he is/was/will be sent and he has/had/will have been sent) — and in the actual usage it shows signs that some kind of sequence of tenses is developing or, since this doesn't seem to progress with years, has developed to some point, though all this usage remains disorganized — for the lack of examples in the Active mood and for the necessity to express the direct meanings of tenses as well. However, there is no possible source for the Future in the Past, so this system has no chances in modern Russian to develop completely.
     
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    Evgeniy

    Senior Member
    Russian
    What you are talking about is illiterate speech that shouldn't be taught to language learners.
    You misunderstand the purpose of my post. The purpose was not to "teach [examples of] speech to language learners" (one of the examples was exactly the one that the language learner came up with, it'd be illogical to "teach that example"), the purpose was to help resolve the surprise that the language learner had with one particular example. Now, concerning literacy, consider that most of our life goes on using illiterate speech, exactly because the purpose of literate speech is to have one's language so organised that it could be understood without personal contact, but when the personal contact is happening, one (most likely, you included) simply does not have to think of such things or even be aware of what kind of speech he or she is using. That is why the word 'literacy' is connected with 'letter'. Literacy is not a valutative property, but a qualitative one: what one would consider illiterate should not be dismissed as an example when demonstrating something about how we perceive our own grammar. By the way, the example of djwebb1969 (I say it just in case) is literate; and one would not really ponder a question before saying it, 'is he still there or not?', nor would likely the listener.
     

    ahvalj

    Senior Member
    A little bit of explanation how the system once worked without the sequence of tenses. We have several verbs that still show two parallel sets in the Passive: the plain one — он мучим жаждой/он был мучим жаждой/он будет мучим жаждой (в какое-то время, at some time) — and the Resultative one, used for a state that has arisen as a result of some previous action — он измучен жаждой/он был измучен жаждой/он будет измучен жаждой (к какому-то времени, by some time). The Past and Future forms here don't express sequence in dependent clauses as they do in modern Romance and in modern Germanic, they simply move the narration to the past or to the future. In the oldest texts, these two sets were in principle available for every transitive verb, as they are in modern Lithuanian. The Slavic peculiarity was the gradual spread of reflexive forms in the non-resultative meaning (i. e. the properly Passive он мучим/был мучим/будет мучим was being replaced by an ambiguous он мучится/мучился/будет мучится); this is the source of the modern opposition of Reflexive vs. Participial Passive.

    A parallel system once existed in the Active mood, though I cannot illustrate it properly with the modern Russian material. What is now the л-Past, was once an Active Past Participle, entirely parallel to the н/т-Participle in the Passive, so we had a set (in an artificial modern Russian) он измучил жаждой (кого-то)/он *был измучил жаждой (кото-то)/он *будет измучил жаждой (кого-то). This has, however, partially preserved in some verbs as well: я устал (=я уставший)/я был устал(ым) (=я был уставшим)/я буду устал(ым) (=я буду уставшим) — where the л-Participle has preserved as both a past form and as an adjective and thus the Resultative meaning is still perceivable.

    The non-Resultative set had two simple Past tenses, Imperfect and Aorist, largely corresponding to the Romance Imperfect and Simple Past. All this has been lost in the Active mood, so that now we have the Present, Future and the Past from the former Present Resultative. The ancient Past Resultative has preserved as a specialized construction он пошёл было, which originally meant "he had gone" but now preserves as "he intended to go but then didn't do that".
     
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    djwebb1969

    Banned
    English - England
    I never thought about the Future Perfect - so if you were saying "I will have done it by Tuesday", is this phrased in Russian exactly the same as "I will do it by Tuesday"? I'm sorry if this is an obvious question - it just never occurred to me. Is it Я это сделаю ко вторнику? In that case a whole distinction is lost (although, obviously there are distinctions made in Russian that are lost in English too).
     

    ahvalj

    Senior Member
    I never thought about the Future Perfect - so if you were saying "I will have done it by Tuesday", is this phrased in Russian exactly the same as "I will do it by Tuesday"? I'm sorry if this is an obvious question - it just never occurred to me. Is it Я это сделаю ко вторнику? In that case a whole distinction is lost (although, obviously there are distinctions made in Russian that are lost in English too).
    Yes, there is no such distinction in the modern language, though it existed in the past. Polish has preserved both these tense forms — będę działać and będę działał — though it has lost the distinction between their meanings. Bulgarian, as I have written, preserves both tenses with their distinct meanings.
     

    ahvalj

    Senior Member
    Actually, Russian has a newer and not quite literary set of Resultative forms: the English I will have it done by Thursday can be translated as у меня это будет сделано к четвергу. The same with the past: у меня это было сделано к четвергу and present: у меня это сделано. However, these are just the resultatives, they express an achieved state and cannot be used for the sequence of tenses.
     

    djwebb1969

    Banned
    English - England
    When you say "not quite literary" you mean not fully accepted in Standard Russian? That's interesting - almost as if it's a direct translation from English!! As you say "I will have it done" is a resultative form - and "I will have done it" is not - they're nearly equivalents, but not quite, in English (the one may have derived from the other centuries ago?), so у меня это было сделано к четвергу isn't quite a future perfect. Thanks for pointing it out.
     

    ahvalj

    Senior Member
    This construction can't be used in formal contexts, but it is literary in the lower registers like educated everyday speech or casual writing.

    Russian builds it around its usual у меня есть, whereas other Slavic languages have developed the same forms with "to have" (see below).

    The English Perfect, like analogous forms in all other languages, arose as a Resultative and then was gradually losing this special meaning. The construction I will have it done is an attempt of the language to reinforce the fading Resultative. In Spanish, for example, the old Latin habeō factum first became a Present Resultative but in the modern language it has become just an actual Past he hecho, so the language has developed a new proper Resultative tengo hecho: literally, "I hold it done". The same in Macedonian: the old Slavic Resultative сум читал (related to the Russian Past читал) now means "I have read (it)" whereas the newer имам читано (parallel to the Russian у меня прочитано) means "I have (it) read".
     

    igusarov

    Senior Member
    Russian
    That's interesting - almost as if it's a direct translation from English!!
    But it is essentially different. "Будет сделано" is not a reflection of a future perfect, it's a reflection of passive participle, and a literal English equivalent to "Это будет сделано ко вторнику" is "It will be done by Tuesday" or "It will have been done by Tuesday". I'm afraid it doesn't do much to help distinguish future perfect from future simple...

    The only "not quite literary" part is the addition of "у меня", which loosely connects the otherwise impersonal sentence to the original subject "I".
     

    ahvalj

    Senior Member
    But it is essentially different. "Будет сделано" is not a reflection of a future perfect, it's a reflection of passive participle, and a literal English equivalent to "Это будет сделано ко вторнику" is "It will be done by Tuesday" or "It will have been done by Tuesday". I'm afraid it doesn't do much to help distinguish future perfect from future simple...

    The only "not quite literary" part is the addition of "у меня", which loosely connects the otherwise impersonal sentence to the original subject "I".
    But the English construction involves a Passive participle as well, simply the Russian one is less grammaticalized and overall the Russian participles oppose the active and passive meanings much clearer than in Germanic and Romance, hence this feeling.
     
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