Tense simplification.

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cheshire

Senior Member
Japanese
Which tense would you choose, "it's lasted./I've worked with." or "it lasted./I worked with."?

If you want to use tense simplification, apparent inconsistency, such as in:
It's been a good time while it('s) lasted.
I've usually liked the people I('ve) worked with.
Swan, Practical English Usage, tense simplification
In the following sentence, is omitting "will" for the parenthesis really tense simplification?
A day will come when you will no longer remember my face.
 
  • Forero

    Senior Member
    I cannot make a choice among these sentence/fragment pairs without some context.

    But I will say that most "tense simplification" issues are a result of someone reading a little too much into voice, tense, mode, and aspect as applied to strings of English verbs. In form, modern English only has two tenses, present and past, which can be seen by looking at the leading verb in a string and considering everything else logically from there.

    For example, we say "After I go, I will know what to do next", not "After I will have gone, ...", which to me sounds foreign and not logical for English, applying more readily in a language with a formal future tense, preferably one with a one-word verb for future perfect tense - like Latin.
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    If you want to use tense simplification, apparent inconsistency, such as in:
    It's been a good time while it('s) lasted.​
    I've usually liked the people I('ve) worked with.​
    Swan, Practical English Usage, tense simplification
    Cheshire, I think there's a word missing here. I can't parse Mr Swan's sentence. I'm wondering if that word is 'avoid'.

    A day will come when you will no longer remember my face.
    Certainly most people would say A day will come when you no longer remember my face, though A day will come when you will no longer remember my face, is perfectly acceptable.

    I don't know if that helps. I don't want to say if it's tense simplification because I've no confidence in the bit of Swan you've posted.
     

    cheshire

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    Where shall I put "avoid" in the sentence?:confused:

    Certainly most people would say A day will come when you no longer remember my face, though A day will come when you will no longer remember my face, is perfectly acceptable.
    This supports "tense simplification," doesn't it?
     

    cheshire

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    No, I don't think I slipped "avoid" out of the quote.
    It's apparently incosistent, between the past and the perfect tense.

    No one chose "I've usually liked the people I worked with." That means, "tense simplification" might not be so predominant a rule.
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    No, I don't think I slipped "avoid" out of the quote.
    It's apparently incosistent, between the past and the perfect tense.

    No one chose "I've usually liked the people I worked with." That means, "tense simplification" might not be so predominant a rule.
    Hi Cheshire,

    My problem is that I can't make sense of the sentence below. What do you think it means?

    If you want to use tense simplification, apparent inconsistency, such as in:
     

    cheshire

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    Hi TT, let me explain briefly what "tense simplification" means.

    I'll visit my uncle after I visit my nephew.
    I'll visit my uncle after I have visited my nephew.

    Even if you mean the latter, you choose to say the former (because the former is simpler and shorter).
     

    allchopin

    Member
    USA, English
    Hi TT, let me explain briefly what "tense simplification" means.

    I'll visit my uncle after I visit my nephew.
    I'll visit my uncle after I have visited my nephew.

    Even if you mean the latter, you choose to say the former (because the former is simpler and shorter).
    Immediately upon hearing both sentences, they both have the same impact and meaning, even though they are grammatically different. But after some thought, the second has a slightly different quality. While the first assumes a "looking ahead", planning perspective, the second ("after I have visited my nephew") is as if in the future, looking back. To me, the second sounds more thorough, as if assuring that they will for sure visit the nephew.
    Any differing opinions on this from other natives?
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Hi TT, let me explain briefly what "tense simplification" means.

    I'll visit my uncle after I visit my nephew.
    I'll visit my uncle after I have visited my nephew.

    Even if you mean the latter, you choose to say the former (because the former is simpler and shorter).
    Hi Cheshire,

    It wasn't the idea of tense simplification which was troubling me; it was the meaning of the following sentence in your initial post:
    If you want to use tense simplification, apparent inconsistency, such as in:
    I couldn't find a main verb and suggested avoid (imperative), but you didn't think that was right.
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    In the first sentence, while requires the tenses to correlate:

    It's been a good time while it lasted. :cross: [has now “while” lasted in the past]
    It's been a good time while it's lasted. :tick:

    In the second sentence, the tense and aspect tell which people I have liked. With past tense, it is the people of the past. The people are history, and I have liked them intermittently:

    I've usually liked the people I worked with. [past people being liked usually]

    With simple present tense, it is the people of the present. The people work with me now, but I have not always liked them:

    I've usually liked the people I work with. [present people being liked usually]

    With present perfect, “usually” applies equally to the working and the liking. In this version of the sentence, I can be consistent with each particular person because the liking can correlate with the comings and goings of the likable people.

    I've usually liked the people I’ve worked with. [usual people liked, unusual ones not liked]
     

    TommyGun

    Senior Member
    Hi all,

    I hadn't understood what she had said.

    My grammar book says that it is more natural to say:
    I hadn't understood what she said.

    Do you agree with the book?

    Does the tense simplification work with this sentence turned into the present perfect?
    I haven't understood what she said.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    I'm sorry, Tommy, but without context it's impossible to answer your question:(.

    I hadn't understood what she had said.
    I hadn't understood what she said.
    I didn't understand what she had said.
    I didn't understand what she said.
    could all be appropriate in particular situations - though it's true that we often use the simple past instead of the past perfect when the sequence of events is clear.
     

    TommyGun

    Senior Member
    In the first sentence, while requires the tenses to correlate:

    It's been a good time while it lasted. :cross: [has now “while” lasted in the past]
    It's been a good time while it's lasted. :tick:

    In the second sentence, the tense and aspect tell which people I have liked. With past tense, it is the people of the past. The people are history, and I have liked them intermittently:

    I've usually liked the people I worked with. [past people being liked usually]

    With simple present tense, it is the people of the present. The people work with me now, but I have not always liked them:

    I've usually liked the people I work with. [present people being liked usually]

    With present perfect, “usually” applies equally to the working and the liking. In this version of the sentence, I can be consistent with each particular person because the liking can correlate with the comings and goings of the likable people.

    I've usually liked the people I’ve worked with. [usual people liked, unusual ones not liked]
    If we take away usually, that peculiarity of the meanings of this two sentences will almost disappear, won't it?

    I've liked the people I’ve worked with.
    I've liked the people I worked with.
     

    TommyGun

    Senior Member
    In the first sentence, while requires the tenses to correlate:
    It's been a good time while it lasted. :cross: [has now “while” lasted in the past]
    Hello Forero,

    I will try to justify this sentence, and you please tell me if I'm right or wrong.

    1. If we are talking about a time period up to now, then yes, only present perfect is acceptable in both clauses.
    2. If the time period we are talking about is in the past, we can split the sentence into two:
    It's been a good time. A good time, while it lasted.
    The first sentence announces the news, and the second gives additional information.

    My grammar book (Swan, Practical English) says that it is sometimes possible to join two sentences of such a structure into one; and this technique, although unusual, is used in broadcasts, newspapers, letters and conversations. A couple of examples from the book:
    ... a runner who's beaten Linford Christie earlier this year.
    I have stocked the infirmary cupboard only yesterday.


    Could the subject sentence be also perceived this way?
     

    heypresto

    Senior Member
    English - England
    My grammar book (Swan, Practical English) says that it is sometimes possible to join two sentences of such a structure into one; and this technique, although unusual, is used in broadcasts, newspapers, letters and conversations. A couple of examples from the book:
    ... a runner who's beaten Linford Christie earlier this year.
    I have stocked the infirmary cupboard only yesterday.


    Could the subject sentence be also perceived this way?

    I've never heard or seen this 'technique' used - in broadcasts, newspapers, letters or conversations.

    In the first sentence, I guess it might depend on what omitted by the ellipsis, but as it stands it sounds more than simply unusual - it sounds wrong. To me it has to be ' . . . a runner who beat Linford Chrisyie earlier this year'.

    Similarly, the second should be 'I stocked the infirmary cupboard only yesterday'.
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    If we take away usually, that peculiarity of the meanings of this two sentences will almost disappear, won't it?

    I've liked the people I’ve worked with.
    I've liked the people I worked with.
    No, without usually, the sentences have more possible meanings, not fewer. Context can make a difference, and context can also make a difference moot.
    Hello Forero,

    I will try to justify this sentence, and you please tell me if I'm right or wrong.

    1. If we are talking about a time period up to now, then yes, only present perfect is acceptable in both clauses.
    2. If the time period we are talking about is in the past, we can split the sentence into two:
    It's been a good time. A good time, while it lasted.
    The first sentence announces the news, and the second gives additional information.
    If we are talking about a time in the past, why use present tense? The subject sentence does not work for me, unsplit and by itself, but I don't really understand the sentence with two present perfects either.
    My grammar book (Swan, Practical English) says that it is sometimes possible to join two sentences of such a structure into one;
    I am not sure they can be joined into one straight-line clause. A nice dash (—) or two might help though.
    and this technique, although unusual, is used in broadcasts, newspapers, letters and conversations. A couple of examples from the book:
    ... a runner who's beaten Linford Christie earlier this year.
    This sentence fragment is a properly constructed noun phrase with a clear meaning. It contains only one tense-bearing verb, has.
    I have stocked the infirmary cupboard only yesterday.
    This is a whole sentence, but it has only one tense-bearing verb, have.

    It is interesting, however, in that it appears to violate the rule that yesterday cannot modify a present-tense verb (have) other than in historical present, and yet it is a valid sentence. What makes it work is that only implies a negative:

    I have stocked the infirmary cupboard only yesterday. = "I have not stocked the infirmary cupboard except yesterday.

    Thus this present perfect is about the past as a whole, viewed from the present, not about yesterday in particular.
    Could the subject sentence be also perceived this way?
    The subject sentence has two verbs in different tenses, one subordinated to the other with while:

    It's been a good time while it lasted. [Has is present tense, but lasted is past.]

    I am having difficulties making sense of the two its and what appear to be two "times".
     

    Forero

    Senior Member
    Consider the following sentences:

    A. I've always liked the people I worked with.
    U. I've usually liked the people I worked with.
    S. I've sometimes liked the people I worked with.
    H. I've liked the people I worked with.

    Whenever A is true, U is true, but U might be true when A is false.
    Whenever U is true, S is true, but S might be true when U and A are false.
    H is open-ended. It is true when A is true, and in fact it may actually be used as an equivalent to A, but in some contexts a person could also honestly say H when U is true but A is not, or even when S is true but U and A are false.

    Adding the adverb usually to H turns it into U and makes it less open-ended.
     

    wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    The very idea of 'tense simplification' sounds utterly wrong, if what is meant is a practice or rule to follow in English style.

    Simplification of expression is usually a good thing, as long as the meaning is preserved, but that applies equally to everything spoken or written. We should aim at brief and clear expression in every respect.

    The idea that tenses may become simplified over the centuries as languages evolve in use is a reasonable linguistic hypothesis. It may be true in some cases and not in others. But the idea of trying to concertina that sort of slow, secular development into spoken or written practice seems to me to be nonsense.
     
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