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Hi,

Could one of you smashing grammarians please help me with a verb mixing question? This is the original:

Throughout my tenure as prime minister, which totaled nearly nine years, I did my utmost to make the Japan-US alliance one that would not only help both of our countries, but would also create hope in the world.

I dislike the modal "would" because it sounds speculative: maybe he failed. So I revised to the following:

Throughout my tenure as prime minister, which totaled nearly nine years, I did my utmost to make the Japan-US alliance one that not only helps both of our countries, but also creates hope in the world.

One editor has suggested that the ONLY way to talk about the future from the past is to use "would." I disagree. I feel the present tense is more implicit of success in this context, but is my revision grammatically acceptable?
Thanks, in advance, for your help!
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Hello, Cmajor66, and welcome to the Grammar Exchange.

I'd like to hear what David can tell us, but I'll give you my view.

@Cmajor66 posted:

Throughout my tenure as prime minister, which totaled nearly nine years, I did my utmost to make the Japan-US alliance one that would not only help both of our countries, but would also create hope in the world.

I dislike the modal "would" because it sounds speculative: maybe he failed.

I understand your point.

@Cmajor66 posted:

So I revised to the following:

Throughout my tenure as prime minister, which totaled nearly nine years, I did my utmost to make the Japan-US alliance one that not only helps both of our countries, but also creates hope in the world.

This lacks, in my opinion, the tense correlation required. My understanding is that you are defining the Japan-US alliance as the kind of alliance that helps both countries and also creates hope in the world.

In my opinion, the best choice would be the past simple, which expresses the idea above from a past perspective:

- Throughout my tenure as prime minister, which totaled nearly nine years, I did my utmost to make the Japan-US alliance one that not only helped both of our countries, but also created hope in the world.

The point is that the sentence above may be interpreted as expressing a fact (the alliance did help both countries and create hope in the world) or as expressing an intent (an alliance that was capable of helping both countries as well as of creating hope in the world). Let's see a similar sentence in the past simple:

- We did our best to make this forum one that helped both native speakers and students of English as a second language.

I think that, even with the ambiguity stated above, this sentence works finely, but I'll wait till David gives us his verdict.

Thanks very much, Gustavo! I take your point on tense correlation. But just to play angel's advocate, can I not say, for example:

Throughout my years as a drummer I did my best to play tastefully and in time.

This is a simpler version of the same syntax (I think), and seems correct. But TBH, I've been staring at this sentence so long now that I'm cross-eyed.


- Throughout my tenure as prime minister, which totaled nearly nine years, I did my utmost to make the Japan-US alliance one that not only helped both of our countries, but also created hope in the world.

[...]

- We did our best to make this forum one that helped both native speakers and students of English as a second language.

@Cmajor66 posted:

Can I not say, for example:

Throughout my years as a drummer I did my best to play tastefully and in time.

This is a simpler version of the same syntax (I think), and seems correct.

Yes, you can of course say that, but it is actually the following that would be syntactically more comparable to the sentences above:

- I did my best to become a drummer that played tastefully and in time.

In all of these cases, my feeling is that the relative clause (that not only helped both of our countries but also created hope in the world, that helped both native speakers and ESL students, that played tastefully and in time) has a future or resultative meaning.

Last edited by Gustavo, Co-Moderator

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