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Query Details


Query Subject:   Questions: Tense
Author:   minako nakayasu
Submitter Email:  click here to access email

Linguistic LingField(s):  Syntax

Query:   Dear linguists,

I am now working on tense in English. My main concern is so-
called ''sequence of tenses,'' which makes the tense in the complement
clause past when the matrix verb is in the past. In some cases,
however, the complement clause can employ a present tense. I would
like to know what sort of factors are relevant to this phenomenon.
I would be very happy if you could answer my questionnaire by
checking if a present tense is possible or not in each example. I
will post a summary later.
Thank you very much in advance.

Minako Nakayasu
Assistant Professor
Kagoshima Women's College
1904 Uchi
Hayato-cho, Aira-gun, Kagoshima
899-51 Japan
nakayasu@kwc-u.ac.jp


(1) a. They thought Oxford was/is in London.
b. They thought Oxford University was/is in London.
c. They thought Oxford Street was/is in London.
(2) a. John said Mary was/is a liar.
b. I said Mary was/is a liar.
c. I said I was/am a liar.
d. John said I was/am a liar.
(3) a. John thought Mary was/is a liar.
b. I thought Mary was/is a liar.
c. I thought I was/am a liar.
d. John thought I was/am a liar.
(4) a. John told me Mary was/is a liar.
b. I told myself Mary was/is a liar.
c. I told myself I was/am a liar.
d. John told me I was/am a liar.
e. John told Mary she was/is a liar.
f. I told Mary she was/is a liar.
g. I told Mary I was/am a liar.
h. John told Mary I was/am a liar.
(5) In (2)-(4) above, you must have found some examples where
the complement clause can have a present tense.
Is your judgment still the same if we put ''always'' in the
main clause?
(6) In (2)-(4) above, you have found other examples where
the complement clause can accept only a past tense.
What will happen if we change the situation in the
complement clause to ''someone be lying,'' e.g. she is
lying? or ''someone be still lying''? Is the present tense
OK in such a case?
(7) a. I thought Scotlant was/is too far.
b. Scotland, I thought, was/is too far.
c. Scotland was/is, I thought, too far.
d. Scotland was/is too far, I thought.
(8) a. He thought Scotland was/is too far.
b. Scotland, he thought, was/is too far.
c. Scotland was/is, he thought, too far.
d. Scotland was/is too far, he thought.
(9) a. You thought Scotland was/is too far.
b. Scotland, you thought, was/is too far.
c. Scotland was/is, you thought, too far.
d. Scotland was/is too far, you thought.
(10) a. Galileo believed the earth moved/moves.
b. I believed the earth moved/moves.
c. John believed the earth moved/moves.
(11) a. Galileo believed the sun moved/moves.
b. I believed the sun moved/moves.
c. John believed the sun moved/moves.
(12) a. I said I was/am going to do it.
b. I said you were/are going to do it.
c. I said she was/is going to do it.
d. You said I was/am going to do it.
e. You said you were/are going to do it.
f. You said she was/is going to do it.
g. She said I was/am going to do it.
h. She said I was/am going to do it.
i. She said you were/are going to do it.
(13) a. Did you know I had/have come?
b. Did you know Tom had/has come?
c. Did you know I had/have lost a tooth?
d. Did you know Tom had/has lost a tooth?
(14) a. Did you know I was/am here?
b. Did you know Tom was/am here?
c. Did you know I was/am in Tokyo?
d. Did you know Tom was/is in Tokyo?
(15) a. They told me you were/are in London.
b. They told me Tom was/is in London.
c. They told me you were/are here.
d. They told me Tom was/is here.
(16) a. They said you were/are in London.
b. They said Tom was/is in London.
c. They said you were/are here.
d. They said Tom was/is here.
(17) In (13)-(16) above, we have found some examples where
the complement clause can accept only a past tense.
What will happen if we put still in the complement
clause? Is the pressent tense OK?
(18) In (13)-(16) above, the speaker is addressing to the
hearer directly. Are your judgments still the same if we
change the situations like this: the speaker is
talking on the phone to the hearer, who is in a distant
place?
LL Issue: 8.707
Date posted: 12-May-1997



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