Answering in another tense/mode

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Woods
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Answering in another tense/mode

Postby Woods » 2019-08-22, 9:17

"Try to do this."
"I am."

"Come out, I'm waiting."
"I am."


We're having this type of conversation with one of my Finnish friends all the time - she's thinking she can switch from my imperative to present perfect without restating the verb, I think that sounds weird - she should say "I am trying" / "I am coming." What is your stance on it?

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Re: Answering in another tense/mode

Postby Dormouse559 » 2019-08-22, 15:09

Certainly, implicitly changing the tense/aspect/mood is pretty normal. You can also restate the verb; that sounds fine to me too.
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Re: Answering in another tense/mode

Postby linguoboy » 2019-08-22, 18:33

Woods wrote:We're having this type of conversation with one of my Finnish friends all the time - she's thinking she can switch from my imperative to present perfect without restating the verb, I think that sounds weird - she should say "I am trying" / "I am coming." What is your stance on it?

Honestly, it sounds less weird to me than your use of the progressive in those first two sentences. When something happens "all the time", we use the simple present.
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Re: Answering in another tense/mode

Postby Woods » 2019-08-23, 8:30

linguoboy wrote:Honestly, it sounds less weird to me than your use of the progressive in those first two sentences. When something happens "all the time", we use the simple present.

Really? Well I wanted to emphasise that we're currently having this type of conversation / I'm currently observing it / it happens at the moment (I mean these days) - it's not something I had noticed in the past and I don't necessarily expect it to continue in the future. It's not like "the sky is blue" or something that is permanently a fact. Would you not use the present perfect in this case?

Other than that, you're saying it sounds less weird, but what about her way of switching tenses? Is what she does normal to you? If it is, I might start doing it too - it's going to open some new possibilities :)

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Re: Answering in another tense/mode

Postby linguoboy » 2019-08-23, 14:30

Woods wrote:
linguoboy wrote:Honestly, it sounds less weird to me than your use of the progressive in those first two sentences. When something happens "all the time", we use the simple present.

Really? Well I wanted to emphasise that we're currently having this type of conversation / I'm currently observing it / it happens at the moment (I mean these days) - it's not something I had noticed in the past and I don't necessarily expect it to continue in the future. It's not like "the sky is blue" or something that is permanently a fact. Would you not use the present perfect in this case?

gnomic ≠ habitual

If you want to emphasise something ongoing in the present time but not necessarily continuing much into the past or future, you could use the present perfect progressive i.e.: "We've been having this type of conversation with one of my Finnish friends all the time". It's not the most usual way, though; it's understood that habitual actions are not necessarily of prolonged duration. (E.g. "I see him every day and I've only been working there a week.")

It still sounds odd to use such a construction with "think" since that generally expresses a background condition: She's presumably thought this for quite some time before you started having those conversations.

Woods wrote:Other than that, you're saying it sounds less weird, but what about her way of switching tenses? Is what she does normal to you? If it is, I might start doing it too - it's going to open some new possibilities :)

As Dormouse559 says, it's pretty normal. It sounds a little better to me in the first case than the second, just because "(I'm) coming!" is such a common thing to say whether or not a command has been given.
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Re: Answering in another tense/mode

Postby Linguaphile » 2019-08-24, 0:55

Woods wrote:"Try to do this."
"I am."

"Come out, I'm waiting."
"I am."


We're having this type of conversation with one of my Finnish friends all the time - she's thinking she can switch from my imperative to present perfect without restating the verb, I think that sounds weird - she should say "I am trying" / "I am coming." What is your stance on it?

Woods wrote:Other than that, you're saying it sounds less weird, but what about her way of switching tenses? Is what she does normal to you? If it is, I might start doing it too - it's going to open some new possibilities :)

Yes, that type of switch does sound perfectly normal.
"Try to do this." - "I am."
"Try to do this." - "I am trying."
"Come out, I'm waiting." - "I am."
"Come out, I'm waiting." - "I'm coming."
"Come out, I'm waiting." - "Coming!"
All of these sound good. With the last one, "coming!" works (as Linguoboy mentioned) because it's a common expression in its own right, but with most other verbs you couldn't say it without the word "am". (In the first example you would not answer with "Trying!", for example.)

Woods wrote:We're having this type of conversation with one of my Finnish friends all the time - she's thinking she can switch from my imperative to present perfect without restating the verb, I think that sounds weird

Woods wrote:Really? Well I wanted to emphasise that we're currently having this type of conversation / I'm currently observing it / it happens at the moment (I mean these days) - it's not something I had noticed in the past and I don't necessarily expect it to continue in the future. It's not like "the sky is blue" or something that is permanently a fact. Would you not use the present perfect in this case?

Hmm. I'm wondering if part of the issue here is the fact that you said "all the time." It doesn't sound natural to say "we're having this type of conversation all the time" or even "we've been having this type of conversation all the time;" if it's all the time it should be "we have this type of conversation all the time". But, your paragraph above seems to indicate that "all the time" isn't actually what you meant ("it's not something I had noticed in the past and I don't necessarily expected it to continue in the future" :arrow: that's not "all the time" then). I think I would have said:
"We've been having this type of conversation lately"
"We've been having this type of conversation recently."
"We've been having this type of conversation all the time lately." [this limits "all the time" to mean only "in recent times"]
All of those sound good. But without lately/recently to indicate that it happened in the near past, it sounds odd ("We're having this type of conversation all the time" - if it's really all the time, as in past-present-future, you would use present tense to describe it.)

Another comment: you said "We're having this type of conversation with one of my Finnish friends," with the first-person plural "we," but you only mentioned two people (you and one of your Finnish friends). If it's just you and her, you should say "I've been having this type of conversation with one of my Finnish friends."
I'm mentioning this because some languages use the first-person plural in that situation, but English doesn't, so I'm wondering if that's what you meant or not. You would only say "we" in a sentence like this if there were at least three people involved (you and someone else, or you and a group, who have had these conversations with a Finnish friend), because you have set the Finnish friend in a different group by saying "with one of my Finnish friends". She can't be part of "we" in this sentence, so if you are the only other person involved, then you should use the pronoun "I".

Also... notice that in this post, twice I wrote "I'm wondering," and once "I'm mentioning," much like how you wrote "she's thinking." This is acceptable; it means that I started wondering when I read your message, and I'm still wondering. Your friend was thinking her sentences were okay when she said them, and you haven't convinced her that they're incorrect, so she's still thinking they are okay. (I'm thinking that, too!) :D It's a really common construction especially when making a suggestion: "So, I was thinking....." But in my opinion it works fine here too. I would have used it for both people:
"She's thinking she can switch from my imperative to present perfect without restating the verb; I'm thinking that sounds weird."
Or use present tense for both:
"She thinks she can switch from my imperative to present perfect without restating the verb; I think that sounds weird."
Either is fine, but mixing them sounds a bit awkward. English likes parallel structure; sometimes more than one grammatical tense is acceptable in a given situation, but once you choose one, you should stick with it. Within a sentence use the same grammar (same tense, etc.) for any list or for related ideas like these, as much as possible.

That's more than you asked for, so I hope you don't mind, and hope it's useful!

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Re: Answering in another tense/mode

Postby Woods » 2019-09-04, 2:23

Linguaphile wrote:I would have used it for both people:
"She's thinking she can switch from my imperative to present perfect without restating the verb; I'm thinking that sounds weird."
Or use present tense for both:
"She thinks she can switch from my imperative to present perfect without restating the verb; I think that sounds weird."
Either is fine, but mixing them sounds a bit awkward. English likes parallel structure; sometimes more than one grammatical tense is acceptable in a given situation, but once you choose one, you should stick with it.

What if I'm somehow convinced she's wrong and I expect her to stop using that as soon as I convince her, but I expect myself to continue thinking the way I did and I want to emphasise that by using present perfect for her actions (current) and simple present for mine (permanent)? :D

Linguaphile wrote:That's more than you asked for, so I hope you don't mind

Ah, not at all - many thanks for all the observations!

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Re: Answering in another tense/mode

Postby vijayjohn » 2019-10-09, 6:55

Woods wrote:Other than that, you're saying it sounds less weird, but what about her way of switching tenses? Is what she does normal to you?

Honestly, American English-speakers at least switch tenses all the time. I thought it is, she said I don't, etc.
Linguaphile wrote:I would have used it for both people:
"She's thinking she can switch from my imperative to present perfect without restating the verb; I'm thinking that sounds weird."
Or use present tense for both:
"She thinks she can switch from my imperative to present perfect without restating the verb; I think that sounds weird."
Either is fine, but mixing them sounds a bit awkward. English likes parallel structure; sometimes more than one grammatical tense is acceptable in a given situation, but once you choose one, you should stick with it.

What if I'm somehow convinced she's wrong and I expect her to stop using that as soon as I convince her, but I expect myself to continue thinking the way I did and I want to emphasise that by using present perfect for her actions (current) and simple present for mine (permanent)? :D

In that case, I think I'd use the simple past, not the present perfect. She thought she could switch...without restating the verb; I think that sounds weird. Using she has thought in general sounds weird (except maybe if you say she has thought about it (before/long and hard/several times/...)).


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