Hello Moderator,

I have always been wondering why do we have to say "I liked your book" instead of "I like your book". To me it feels like I only liked the book before when I was reading it but no longer at the time when I say that sentence.

Also, is there actually a rule about not using different tenses in one sentence? Which of the following sentences are correct?

1. I chose to major in science because I think it is an interesting subject.
2. I chose to major in science because I thought it was an intersting subject.

3. Whether or not I should have warned him before he got in the car is arguable.
4. Whether or not I should have warned him before he got in the car was arguable.

If number 2 is correct, then what if I still think science is an interesting subject now? Similarly, as for number 4, what if the issue is arguable is more of a fact?

Furthermore, can I still say "I've always wanted to be an actor" when I am already an actor? Or should I say "I'd always wanted to be an actor"?

I am also very confused as to whether I should use simple present tense or simple past tense to tell a story. I even found some native speakers like to start the story with past tense and then switch to present tense somewhere half way through the story.

Sorry for asking a lot of questions. I would really appreciate your help.

Thank you very much.
Alex
Original Post
I'm not a moderator but I'd like to put in my two cents.

It's an interesting point you brought up. We do tend to say "I liked your book." Perhaps "liked" here means something like "enjoyed" -- it gave me pleasure as I read it. I don't think anyone would understand it to mean that you no longer like the book unless you added that. "I really liked such-and-such book when I was younger but now I don't."

As for the other sentences, I think all of them are OK. It all depends on your meaning.

Sentence 2 actually sounds better because both the choosing and the thinking happened in the past. It doesn't have to mean that you no longer think science is interesting.

For 3 and 4, I think the context would have to determine which one is the right one.

"I've always wanted to be an actor" indicates that you wanted to be an actor in the past and it continues to the present. So you are doing what you've always wanted to do. Congratulations.

With the past perfect "I'd always wanted to be..." I would expect the following to tell me that you changed your mind at some point, or circumstances didn't allow you to become one. Something like that.

Stories can be told in either the past or the present. The present tense makes the story more exciting, as if we're part of the action. That is why we might switch half-way through the story. It is frequently done in speech, but in writing (where you have a chance to revise), it is usual to chose one verb tense or another. But you might see some authors switch midway, to write a particularly exciting part in the present tense.
Okaasan is not a moderator, true, but she can always be depended upon to post considered and enlightening comments.

I agree with all that she stated, but I'd like to elaborate a bit on 'I have / had always wanted to be an actor.'

Since you are already an actor, if you are continuing with that same desire, of course 'have' is correct. But if you are talking about your life long ago, you might use 'had.'

For example, if you are an established star and you are talking about your childhood:

'I had always wanted to be an actor, and I tried for many years, without success. Then finally, in 1980, I got my big break. Now I'm very happy.'

Or, someone might say, 'I'd never wanted to be an actor, but my mother used to make me appear in movies. Then I got used to it, and now I love acting.'

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