LINGUIST List 9.27

Sat Jan 10 1998

Sum: Tenses

Editor for this issue: Martin Jacobsen <martylinguistlist.org>


Directory

  1. Minako Nakayasu, Sum: Tenses

Message 1: Sum: Tenses

Date: Tue, 06 Jan 1998 15:17:43 +0000
From: Minako Nakayasu <nakayasukwc-u.ac.jp>
Subject: Sum: Tenses

Dear LINGUIST Subscribers,

Late in September I sent out an E-mail inquiry on tense in complement
clauses (8.1369). I would like to thank the following people for their
kind replies. I will enclose a summary of their answers.

Special thanks to linguists who answered my questionnaire:

Rebecca Gross 
David Harris 
Shari L. Rosenblum 
Anthea F. Gupta 
Rebekkah (Her surname is not known) 
David Houghton


The summary is as follows:

>In each of the sentences below, the main clause has the past tense and 
>the complement clause has the past/present tense. Which tense would you
>choose in the complement clause? If both of them are OK, *please* give
>a context in which each of the tense can be used.


(1) Did you know I am/was allergic to alcohol?
 (either OK:2; past preferred:1; only past:3)
(2) Didn't you know I am/was allergic to alcohol?
 (either OK:2; past preferred:1; only past:3)
(3) Did you know he is/was allergic to alcohol?
 (either OK:2; past preferred:1; only past:3)
(4) Didn't you know he is/was allergic to alcohol?
 (either OK:1; past preferred:2; only past:3)
(5) Did you know I have/had arrived?
 (either OK:0; past preferred:1; only past:5)
(6) Didn't you know I have/had arrived?
 (either OK:0; past preferred:1; only past:5)
(7) Did he know I have/had arrived?
 (either OK:0; past strongly preferred:2; only past:4)
(8) Didn't he know I have/had arrived? 
 (either OK:0; past preferred:1; past strongly preferred:1;
 only past:4)
(9) Did you know he is/was going out with her?
 (either OK:3; past preferred:1; only past:2)
(10) Didn't you know he is/was going out with her?
 (either OK:o; past preferred:3; only past:3)
(11) I knew you are/were allergic to alchonol.
 (either OK:1; past preferred:1; only past:4)
(12) I didn't know you are/were allergic to alcohol.
 (either OK:1; past preferred:1; only past:4)
(13) I said he is/was going out with her.
 (either OK:1; past preferred:4; only past:1)
(14) I didn't say he is/was going out with her.
 (either OK:1; past preferred:2; past strongly preferred:1;
 only past:2)
(15) I thought he is/was going out with her.
 (either OK:0; past strongly preferred:1; only past:5)
(16) I didn't think he is/was going out with her.
 (either OK:0; past strongly preferred:1; only past:5)


>From their comments --

(7) "had" is most appropriate in these 4. The present tense
 sounds silly.

(9) is - if he still is
 was - if he no longer is (Rebekkah)

(10) Your sentence all illustrate that one can use "did you
 know" as an equivalent of "do you know". This only makes
 sense, since knowledge is persistent. The past form for
 asking about current knowledge is more polite, perhaps
 because it implicates that whatever the past case, the
 hearer is no longer ignorant.
 (David Houghton)

(13) Sentence # 13 is the only one I said "both" for even though
 I think it's abit awkward using the present. But it could
 be used if you were directly quoting yourself.
 (David Harris)

(14) Here, I might use the present tense in the following
 circumstances:

 I said he *is* going out with her. (correcting a mistaken
 understanding)
 I said, "He is going out with her." (repeating verbatim)
 (Shari Rosenblum)

(13)(14) It's because (13) is asserting a fact -- the embedded
 proposition is true -- , whereas (at least in most
 readings) 14-15 are questioning or denying the embedded
 proposition.
 (Anthea Gupta)




It was really intriguing to discuss delicate issues such as tense
choice with those linguists. I am going present a paper at PACLIC 12
to be held at National University of Singapore on February 18 - 20. I
will take some of these results into consideration.

Minako Nakayasu
Assistant Professor
Kagoshima Women's College
1904 Uchi
Hayato-cho, Aira-gun, Kagoshima
899-5194 Japan
nakayasukwc-u.ac.jp
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue