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3537 Common Errors in English | Part-III

Updated on December 11, 2015
Common Errors in English
Common Errors in English | Source

Common Errors in English

In this article we will discuss the errors that are caused when the sequence of tenses is not followed. Tenses should be in harmony with each other when there are two clauses. The following rules will help you avoid common errors related to sequence of tenses:

Remember:

If the verb in the principal clause is in present or future tense, the verb in the subordinate clause will be in any tense i.e., Present, Future or Past.

Present
Future
He says he has done his job.
He will say he will do his job.
He says he will accomplish his task.
He will say he will accomplish his task.
He says he was better than him.
He will say he was better than him.
She says she will accompany them to London.
She will say she will accompany them to London.
They said to me they will visit Lahore tomorrow.
They will tell me they will visit Lahore tomorrow.
You say he had left for London.
You will say he had left for London.

Remember:

If the tense in the principal clause is in Past Tense, the tense in the subordinate clause will always be in Past Tense.

Incorrect
Correct
He said that he IS a doctor.
He said that he WAS a doctor.
She asked me that they ARE ready for the test.
She asked me that they WERE ready for the test.
They told him that she HAVE gone to London.
They told him that she HAD gone to London.
They ran faster than I DO.
They ran faster than I DID.
He decided that he WILL not support him.
He decided that he WOULD not support him.
It seemed that he HAS made a mistake.
It seemed that he HAD made a mistake.
He asked me why I AM late.
He asked me why I WAS late.
The police wanted to know why HAVE no driving license.
The police wanted to know why HAD no driving license.
He said to me he CANNOT help her.
He said to me he COULD NOT help her.
She told them she CANNOT attend the party due to an emergency.
She told them she COULD NOT attend the party due to an emergency.
He ran so slowly that he CANNOT catch the train.
He ran so slowly that he COULD NOT catch the train.
The teacher said that she CANNOT pass the exam.
The teacher said that she COULD NOT pass the exam.
They said she MAY have reached home.
They said she MIGHT have reached home.
He said to me that she MAY have returned from London.
He said to me that she Might have returned from London.
He said to me that he HAS taken exercise.
He said to me that he HAD taken exercise.
You told that you ARE not aware of the real situation.
You told that you WERE not aware of the real situation.
He asked me if she WILL come here.
He asked me if she WOULD come here.
He could buy the car if he WANTS.
He could buy the car if he WANTED.
He waited till the rain STOPS.
He waited till the rain STOPPED.
He said that I SHALL support her.
He said that I SHOULD support her.
They said that they SHALL buy him a car.
They said that they SHOULD buy him a car.
He stared at me as if I WAS his enemy.
He stared at me as if I WERE his enemy.
He behaved with me as if he WAS my boss.
He behaved with me as if he WERE my boss.
He asked me if I AM there.
He asked me if I WERE there.
You asked him whether he HAS applied for the visa.
You asked him whether he HAD applied for the visa.
We tried as much as we CAN.
We tried as much as we COULD.
You said that the river IS full of fish.
You said that the river WAS full of fish.
She asked her when she DOES her homework.
She asked her when she DID her homework.
I asked him if he IS ill.
I asked him if he WAS ill.
They said who he IS.
They said who he WAS.
She asked her if she HAS read the article.
She asked her if she HAD read the article.
She said in great wonder how he HAS passed the test.
She said in great wonder how he HAD passed the test.
She used to visit us whenever he IS here.
She used to visit us whenever he WAS here.
There was a king who IS notorious among the public.
There was a king who WAS notorious among the public.

Remember:

If the tense in principal clause is in Past Tense and expresses a universal truth or idea, the tense in subordinate clause will always be in present tense.

Incorrect
Correct
He said that the sun REVOLVED around the earth.
He said that the sun REVOLVES around the earth.
She said that God WAS omnipotent.
She said that God IS omnipotent.
You said that the sun ROSE in the east.
You said that the sun RISES in the east.
The teacher said that snakes WERE carnivorous reptiles.
The teacher said that snakes ARE carnivorous reptiles.
She said that honesty WAS the best policy.
She said that honesty IS the best policy.
They said that greed WAS a curse.
They said that greed IS a curse.

Remember:

If the tense in principal clause is in Past Tense and expresses a comparison between two things, the tense in subordinate clause may be in present, past or future tense.

  1. She liked him more than I like him.
  2. She liked him more than I liked him.
  3. She liked him more than I will like him.
  4. HP laptop were better than Dell is.
  5. HP laptops were better than Dell laptops were.
  6. HP laptops were better than Dell laptops will be.

Sequence of Tenses Errors: Quiz


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