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Coherence Of Tenses

The rational use of different tenses together is called coherence of tenses.


Most of the G-matic sentences are complex with many clauses. So, different clauses are to be used in tenses that are logically put together.


Study the following example to understand the concept of coherence.

* All of us watched him as he is seriously manipulating the machine to solve the problem.

In the above sentence, the past verb watched expresses a past action, while the present verb is manipulating expresses an ongoing action of the present. We could not watch in the past what he is doing now. This is the irrational combination of the tenses. To make it correct, the second verb also should be in the past related tense as given below.

* All of us watched him as he was seriously manipulating the machine to solve the problem.

You should remember the following points when considering the sequence of tenses.

  1. All the verbs present in the sentences must be rationally used basing on the time and/or continuity of the action.

Study the following examples and understand how the coherence problem is corrected in the correct sentences.

* Corporate charity seems to have developed global perspective; earlier, workplace donations are made to tackle national problems, such as child labor within the country, while today, they are made for global disasters.

The above sentence compares the past and present situations. Thus, we need to use past tense for the past action while we need to use present for the rest of the verbs.

* Corporate charity seems to have developed global perspective; earlier, workplace donations were made to tackle national problems, such as child labor within the country, while today, they are made for global disasters.

  1. When the main clause is in past tense, all the dependent clauses should be in past or past related tenses.

Study the following example which illustrates this point.

* Following the unsuccessful attempts made by Robert Boyle, David walker, an English chemist, created the first friction matches in 1826, though the process has been patented by Samuel Jones and the matches are sold as Lucifer Matches.

In the above sentence, the main clause is in past tense and the dependent clause too should be in past tense. But the two subordinate clauses are in present tense. This sentence can be corrected in the following way.

* Following the unsuccessful attempts made by Robert Boyle, David Walker, an English chemist, created the first friction matches in 1826, but the process was patented by Samuel Jones and the matches were sold as Lucifer Matches.

  1. Even though the main clause is in past, if the situation described by the subordinate clause is true now, we need to use present for such subordinate clauses.

Study the following examples that illustrate this concept.

* Copernicus proved beyond doubt that the Earth was not center of the universe.

Though the main clause Copernicus proved is in simple past, the subordinate clause ‘the Earth was not center of the universe’ is true even today. Thus, we need to use present for the subordinate clause despite the tense in the main clause.

* Copernicus proved beyond doubt that the Earth is not the center of the universe.

* Disproving the Geocentric theory, Copernicus proposed the idea that the Sun is the center of the universe.

In the above sentence, today the idea that the sun is the center of the universe does not hold good. Thus, we need to use simple past for both clauses.

* Disproving the Geocentric theory, Copernicus proposed the idea that the Sun was the center of the universe.

Example
Before the advent of motel chain affiliation, the owners of individual motels were prone to operational losses because the individual hotels at some locations and their losses cannot be compensated from the profits from those at other locations.
A. the individual hotels at some locations and their losses cannot be compensated from the profits from those at other locations.
B. the losses from individual motels at some locations could not be compensated from the profits from those at other locations.
C. of the individual hotels’ inability, at some locations, of compensating their losses from the profits from those at other locations.
D. the hotels at some individual locations cannot compensate their losses from other locations.
E. of the losses which cannot be compensated from the profits from those at other locations.
Solution
Explanation: the structure gives the sense that not only the losses but also the individual hotels cannot be compensated from profits…. This sense is illogical because hotels cannot be compensated! The first clause creates illogical predication. Moreover, the present tense cannot is incorrect because the verb in the main clause were is in simple past and this results in unnecessary tense shift.
Option A: this option has both tense coherence problem and illogical predication problem.
Option B: correct. This option maintains the tense coherence. This sentence correctly relates the individual hotels at some locations and those at other locations. The sense that the losses from the former could be compensated from the profits from the later gives the reason for the proneness to losses.
Option C: the prepositional (because of the ...) results in awkward construction. Moreover, the pronoun their has no antecedent because the noun in possessive case hotels’ is an adjective and thus cannot be the antecedent for the pronoun they.
Option D: the verb cannot does not agree with the earlier past. The use of from other locations is illogical. It should be from profits at other locations.
Option E: the pronoun those has no antecedent. The use of present tense (cannot be compensated) creates tense coherence problem.





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