Talk:Sequence of tenses

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I am no grammarian[edit]

I am no grammarian, but as a native and well-educated speaker of English, this is how the following statements presented in this article seem to me:

  • Batman says that he needs a special key for the Batmobile.

This sounds as though Batman says this often and habitually.

  • Batman said that he needs a special key for the Batmobile.

This sounds as though Batman said this in the past, but he continues (in the present) to have the need for the key.

  • Batman said that he needed a special key for the Batmobile.

This, on the other hand, sounds like the need is no longer applicable. The whole event (both the dialogue and need of the key) happened in the past.

—Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:04, 9 August 2010

I am also a native English speaker and I agree completely with your analysis. Alázhlis (talk) 23:05, 1 September 2012 (UTC)

Native bilingual, primarily English. I agree with the analysis excepting the first point. Unless strong emphasis is added to the 'says', implying the negation (Batman doesn't really need the special key), normal emphasis implies to me that the speaker is vicariously expressing Batman's message, id est, Batman told the speaker and the speaker is now relaying that message to the listener. Depends a lot on context, I suppose. HelioSeven (talk) 06:15, 28 May 2013 (UTC)


The section on the English s.o.t presents the "natural" sequence as being... well more natural, and in any case superior to the attracted one, for which only disadvantages are shown. It uses specific examples where this may be true, but in the general case the "natural" sequence does not sound natural to native English speakers: choose the best between

"I didn't think the movie is very good"
"I didn't think the movie was very good"


"I thought he isn't coming"
"I thought he wasn't coming"


In all of these the first one ("natural") does not sound correct.

Bottom line is, native speakers will use both, depending on the precise sentence, but the "attracted" sequence is by far the most widely used, and the "natural" sequence will often sound incorrect.

laug (talk) 05:35, 12 November 2010 (UTC)

This makes you sound like having a bias towards the attracted sequence. Also, doesn't the natural sequence say that both "I didn't think the movie is very good" and "I didn't think the movie was very good" are both right? Or otherwise, what is a theory that does? Because to me, they're both right, they just mean something different: the former implies some relevancy in the present for the movie (the movie is still being shown in theaters, for example) and the latter puts the movie in a context in the past (perhaps now I've changed my opinion: "I didn't think it was good, but now I do think it is"). Are you serious that there's NOBODY who agrees with this way of analyzing tense sequences?-- (talk) 16:19, 20 October 2011 (UTC)

An entry on a linguistic topic should first and foremost seek to describe actual usage and the linguistic intuition of (native) speakers. Whether or not prescriptivists consider a certain constructions "proper" or not is a secondary issue. It might of course be important, and deserve a section of its own. But the two are distinct. I suggest that we first incorporate a section that describes actual English usages, then a section on prescriptivist attitudes. 1700-talet (talk) 13:24, 9 February 2012 (UTC)

Sequence of Tenses Cross-linguistically[edit]

At the moment, this article seems very limited in scope. It comments on sequence of tenses only in Latin, Greek and English. There are over 6,000 languages in the world, and I believe that quite a number of them have rules concerning sequences of tenses. I was hoping to learn about general patterns in sequence of tense rules that had been identified by linguists who have studied the phenomenon across languages and language families globally, rather than, or in addition to, simply a summary of or discussion of the rules in Latin, Classical Greek and modern English. As it stands, the article does not even discuss French or German, for example, let alone any African or American or Asian languages, etc. Is there anyone with relevant knowledge who can expand the article?

Jargonth (talk) 18:02, 8 March 2012 (UTC)