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Get your Tenses Right

Rule I: If the verb in the independent clause is in the past tense, the verb in the dependent clause also should be in the past tense.
Incorrect: He did not come in because it is raining.
Correct: He did not come in because it was raining.


Rule II: Incidents happening in the same time should have the same tense.
For example:
I met him when he came out.
He will see me when I come out.


Rule III: Simple past tense should not be used instead of past perfect tense. When there are two actions both in the past, the earlier action should be in past perfect tense.
Incorrect: I had joined the air force in 1990.
Correct:  I joined the air force in 1990. 


Rule IV: Past tense is to be used for an action in the past, but the result of that action should be indicated in present perfect tense.
Incorrect: I know him since my childhood.
Correct: I have known him since my childhood.


Rule V: the present tense is used to show habitual action.
Incorrect: I am attending the meetings daily.
Correct: I attend the meetings daily.


Rule VI: ‘were’, ‘had’, ‘would’, and ‘could’ are used if a sentence to expresses a wish.
‘were’ is used when the wish seems to be unrealistic at present.
‘had’ is used to repeat past actions.
‘would’ is used when we give expression to our wish about the future.
‘could’ is used when we wish that something that has happened already should have happened otherwise.

For example:
1. If I were a bird. (Unrealizable wish)
2. I have failed, I wish had worked harder. (Repenting over the past)
3. I wish I would pass this examination. (Simple wish)
4. They are free today; I wish they could accompany you.


Rule VII: Different tenses are used with different types of conditional clauses.
In the impossible condition, the tenses used are ‘had /would have’
In the improbable condition the tense used are ‘was /were/ would’.
In the probable condition the tenses used are ‘present indefinite’ and term used is ‘will’
For example:
If I were free, I would meet him.
If he comes I will meet him.
If it had rained I would not have come.

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