If there is a past tense in the principal clause, this must be followed by a past tense in the dependent clause. Ergo, there must be no conflict or incongruity. This is called “tense attraction.” The tenses in the English language unnerve many writers, especially the younger ones. They have the tendency to shift tenses for no obvious reasons. At times, the shift infects a particular sentence. The English grammar is, however, very clear about this affliction. If there is a past tense in the principal clause, this must be followed by a past tense in the dependent clause. Ergo, there must be no conflict or incongruity. This is called “tense attraction.” Timothy Leary experimented with LSD and declared that the mind is as expandable as the cosmos. The author has written the sentence in the historical past using verbs like “experimented” and “declared” with a shift to the present tense – “mind is.” As the verb in the principal clause is in the past tense, the verb in an indirect quote usually shifts to the past tense. Such writing is a kind of disorientation. It is a dream-like state that one might find oneself in a Salvador Dali's painting. One exception, however, must be noted. To express some universal, habitual, or generally recognized fact, the present tense (which is the proper tense for expressing facts of this kind) may be retained in the dependent clause, though the principal clause is in the past tense. The students were taught that […]
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