Coordination of tenses

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Woods
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Coordination of tenses

Postby Woods » 2016-12-26, 7:58

Native English / American English speakers or specialists, are these two phrases correct:

I told myself I won’t miss you.
Wish I never would’ve said it’s over.


They are taken from an American English source.

I would say instead:

I told myself I wouldn’t miss you.
I wish I never would’ve said it was over.


I never got into seriously studying English grammar (if there is such a thing), but since I started with French, I always assumed that the tenses should match each other (i.e. if I say “I wish I wouldn’t have said…,” the complement (or whatever it’s called) would be in the same tense – “…it was over.”

Am I wrong or are they both correct?

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Re: Coordination of tenses

Postby TeneReef » 2016-12-26, 16:39

If I had known that, I wouldn't have done it. (supposedly correct but it sounds weird)

If I knew that, I wouldn't have done it. (what Americans say)


It's been a Long time since I saw you. (supposedly correct)

It's been a long time since I've seen you. (what Americans say)


I guess the rules have gotten looser...
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Re: Coordination of tenses

Postby Woods » 2016-12-28, 9:36

In your sentences everything is past (past perfect + past simple or present perfect (which is also a past tense) + past simple). This sounds entirely correct to me and I would say it the way you say Americans would say it.

In my sentences, there's a mixture of past + present, which sounds wrong to me. Anyone else?

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Re: Coordination of tenses

Postby linguoboy » 2016-12-28, 19:02

Woods wrote:Native English / American English speakers or specialists, are these two phrases correct:

I told myself I won’t miss you.
Wish I never would’ve said it’s over.


They are taken from an American English source.

I would say instead:

I told myself I wouldn’t miss you.
I wish I never would’ve said it was over.

's can represent either is or was, so it's possible the second sentence actually is "Wish I never would've said it was over."

Woods wrote:I never got into seriously studying English grammar (if there is such a thing)

WTF?

Woods wrote:but since I started with French, I always assumed that the tenses should match each other (i.e. if I say “I wish I wouldn’t have said…,” the complement (or whatever it’s called) would be in the same tense – “…it was over.”

Am I wrong or are they both correct?

For me they've both correct provided a direct quote is involved. That is, the formally correct way to punctuate them would be:

I told myself "I won’t miss you".
Wish I never would’ve said "It’s over".
"Richmond is a real scholar; Owen just learns languages because he can't bear not to know what other people are saying."--Margaret Lattimore on her two sons

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Re: Coordination of tenses

Postby Woods » 2016-12-28, 23:50

linguoboy wrote:'s can represent either is or was, so it's possible the second sentence actually is "Wish I never would've said it was over."

Really? I thought ‘s could either represent is or has, but I’ve never heard of it representing was. Are you sure?


linguoboy wrote:
Woods wrote:I never got into seriously studying English grammar (if there is such a thing)

WTF?

Well, I’ve never delved into English grammar or studied it seriously – I had five years of French but very little English, since there never really seemed to be a need for it. So sometimes I find little things I’m not quite sure about.


For me they've both correct provided a direct quote is involved. That is, the formally correct way to punctuate them would be:

I told myself "I won’t miss you".
Wish I never would’ve said "It’s over".

Well, this thing with the quotes is an interesting way to reply. But my question is what is the natural way to say this to yourself – it would be to glue the tenses together, not to use direct quotes – who uses direct speech in this kind of sentence? The whole thing is taken from a song, so the guy is just saying to himself “I told myself I wouldn’t (or won’t) miss you…” and so on, it’s not about the quotes and when you hear it you don’t really think of the punctuation… But does it sound right to you?

So you would say that both ways are a correct – mine and the singer’s?

Are you sure you’re taking my question seriously tonight – I know you know so many things about languages and I’ve never doubted your expertise but there’s something in your reply here I’m not quite sure about :)

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Re: Coordination of tenses

Postby linguoboy » 2016-12-29, 0:14

Woods wrote:
linguoboy wrote:'s can represent either is or was, so it's possible the second sentence actually is "Wish I never would've said it was over."

Really? I thought ‘s could either represent is or has, but I’ve never heard of it representing was. Are you sure?

I thought I'd heard that usage in very colloquial contexts, but I'm not finding any confirmation in vetted sources.

Woods wrote:
linguoboy wrote:
Woods wrote:I never got into seriously studying English grammar (if there is such a thing)

WTF?

Well, I’ve never delved into English grammar or studied it seriously – I had five years of French but very little English, since there never really seemed to be a need for it. So sometimes I find little things I’m not quite sure about.

I understand that. What I don't understanding is questioning either the existence of English grammar or the possibility of seriously studying it (whichever it was you were doing). Linguists devote their entire lives to puzzling out the intricacies of English, which are as many and as complex as are found in any other language.

Woods wrote:
For me they've both correct provided a direct quote is involved. That is, the formally correct way to punctuate them would be:

I told myself "I won’t miss you".
Wish I never would’ve said "It’s over".

Well, this thing with the quotes is an interesting way to reply. But my question is what is the natural way to say this to yourself – it would be to glue the tenses together, not to use direct quotes – who uses direct speech in this kind of sentence?

Speakers do this literally all the time. For instance, try Googling "I told myself don't" and just see how many results you get. There are even some cases where there simply is no indirect counterpart. (E.g. "I told myself, 'Fuck that noise'" cannot be rephrased as "I told myself to fuck that noise" and retain the same meaning.)

Woods wrote:The whole thing is taken from a song, so the guy is just saying to himself “I told myself I wouldn’t (or won’t) miss you…” and so on, it’s not about the quotes and when you hear it you don’t really think of the punctuation… But does it sound right to you?

Again, it's a perfectly common usage so it's found in songs. Here's a few I found with a moment's Googling:

"I told myself I won't miss you" ("Better Than Me", Hinder)
"I told myself I don't need no help" ("Hands Up", Abstract)
"I told myself I'm through with you" ("I Told Myself", 311)

Woods wrote:So you would say that both ways are a correct – mine and the singer’s?

Yep.

Woods wrote:Are you sure you’re taking my question seriously tonight – I know you know so many things about languages and I’ve never doubted your expertise but there’s something in your reply here I’m not quite sure about :)

I'm not sure why you would think I'm not. But believe whatever you want, I'm not interested in trying to convince you otherwise.
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Re: Coordination of tenses

Postby Woods » 2016-12-31, 14:10

linguoboy wrote:What I don't understanding is questioning either the existence of English grammar or the possibility of seriously studying it (whichever it was you were doing). Linguists devote their entire lives to puzzling out the intricacies of English, which are as many and as complex as are found in any other language.

I don’t deny that :) What I meant to say is that I’ve been able to get by by occasionally studying pieces of grammar of other languages and never really English grammar by itself. That’s indeed one of the coolest things about English.

My question essentially comes from the fact that in some languages, including my native one, even if the main clause refers to the past, the subordinate one will always be in a present or future tense. “I told myself I wouldn’t miss you” will literally be “I told myself I won’t miss you” in Bulgarian and there’s no direct speech intended here, we just use plain future no matter that the action happens in the past. At the same time, this would sound absolutely incorrect in French, unless you add the quote marks, as you suggested.

But that’s a different way of thinking about it. So when you, as an American, hear one of these sentences, you think that the speaker is saying it in direct speech? I would not use direct speech that often, and when I do, I’ll highlight it in a way that would make it obvious. Like in the phrases you suggested:

I told myself "don't" and "I told myself, 'Fuck that'"

But these phrases are different, because:


linguoboy wrote:there simply is no indirect counterpart.

Namely.

You should also note that in the three phrases you’ve found in Google, there are no quote marks! So, do you think they’re using a simple future or present tense in the subordinate clause because they intend direct speech or because of bad grammar, or one that become very loose over time?


linguoboy wrote: Woods wrote:
Are you sure you’re taking my question seriously tonight – I know you know so many things about languages and I’ve never doubted your expertise but there’s something in your reply here I’m not quite sure about :)

I'm not sure why you would think I'm not. But believe whatever you want, I'm not interested in trying to convince you otherwise.

I just wanted to make sure :) Because this thing with the quote marks sounded a little bit like a joke.

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Re: Coordination of tenses

Postby linguoboy » 2017-01-04, 17:11

Woods wrote:My question essentially comes from the fact that in some languages, including my native one, even if the main clause refers to the past, the subordinate one will always be in a present or future tense. “I told myself I wouldn’t miss you” will literally be “I told myself I won’t miss you” in Bulgarian and there’s no direct speech intended here, we just use plain future no matter that the action happens in the past. At the same time, this would sound absolutely incorrect in French, unless you add the quote marks, as you suggested.

But that’s a different way of thinking about it. So when you, as an American, hear one of these sentences, you think that the speaker is saying it in direct speech?

That's what I'm saying.

Woods wrote:You should also note that in the three phrases you’ve found in Google, there are no quote marks! So, do you think they’re using a simple future or present tense in the subordinate clause because they intend direct speech or because of bad grammar, or one that become very loose over time?

Reminder: Speech has no quotation marks. These are a typographical convention. The more informal the circumstances, the more likely people are to disregard typographical conventions. Transcribing pop song lyrics on the Internet is pretty far down on the formality scale. It's not "bad grammar". The grammar is perfectly fine. It is nonstandard punctuation. Nonstandard punctuation is rampant online.
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