Hello,

Scenario : A , having just arrived from abroad, meets up with B in a cafe. A has a train to catch later in the evening.
A saying to B," The only difficulty was to know where to put the luggages till my train left."

Question 1 - Is the past tense 'left' used to show tense sequence ( ie keeping the whole sentence in one tense ) ?
If it is, then can we also use 'leave' to show a 'present situation' ( ie The only difficulty was to know where to put the luggages till my train leaves this evening)?

Question 2 - If both sentences are right, which is the 'better' one ?

Many thanks.
Ricky
Original Post
The usual version is to keep the dependent verb in the past tense, unless there's a compelling reason to use the present tense. The dependent verb will be in the present if

1) it expresses a "timeless truth":

Galileo showed that the earth revolves around the sun


2) it highlights a present situation:

I had no idea that he's in so much danger

I didn't realize that you're graduating next Sunday


The past tense is also an option, even with these ideas. Therefore, Ricky's sentence could be either

The only difficulty was to know where to put the luggage till my train left. OR

The only difficulty was to know where to put the luggage till my train leaves.

If the speaker is concentrating on the present situation, s/he will use the present tense; otherwise, if the past scenario--of having been perplexed about where to store the luggage--is the focus, the dependent verb could be in the past tense.

Marilyn Martin
Last edited {1}

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