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Tense about this, I am.

(13 Posts)
poppyknot Sun 06-Oct-13 19:07:29

Just called to DD shut in her bedroom."Did you know that SCD was on at 7.20?"

Response, "why did you use the past tense, Mum? It hasn't happened yet..."

Why indeed did I? Quite good at tenses, having liked Latin, French, pluperfects and subjunctives, but struggling to explain this to myself. Going round house muttering "Did you know that spinach [whatever] was good for you.."etc.

Need a Pedant at the drop-in surgery to help.

TheWoollybacksWife Sun 06-Oct-13 19:12:09

I suppose you were asking her if she had already acquired the knowledge - therefore perfectly acceptable to use the past tense.

However I was expecting to find an OP from Yoda grin

I am also prepared to be corrected by a pedant as I am a complete novice at this sort of thing.

PseudoBadger Sun 06-Oct-13 19:16:09

I think it should be "did you know that scd is on at 7.20"!

poppyknot Sun 06-Oct-13 19:20:23

Apologies for Yoda enticement. I have in fact "never seen Star Wars". smile

Thanks for the explanation though on the more earthbound subject of grammar explanation..

Cooroo Mon 07-Oct-13 06:53:44

I think your daughter is right - which in itself is something to be proud of!

I would say 'is on at' but I wonder why it isn't 'will be on at'? What you said sounds as if you've gone for a sort of reported speech: 'She knew SCD was on at 7.20' where all tense slip back one.

prism Mon 07-Oct-13 08:26:53

My guess is that you said "was" because you started the sentence with "Did". When we say "X is on at 7:20" we're actually speaking in the future tense, like when we say "the ship sails in the morning". So you might instead have said "SCD will be on at 7:20". But by starting with "Did you know", you were in a historic context, so you might have gone on to say "SCD was going to be on at 7:20". But instead you abbreviated it to "was", which does make complete sense, looked at it that way.

A friend of mine who is an English teacher abroad pointed out to me the other day that English grammar, as far as verb tenses go, is very rudimentary (like we don't actually have a future tense) but the language is obsessed with when things happen, hence we can say things like "was going to have been on at 7:20", which just can't be said in some other languages.

MirandaGoshawk Mon 07-Oct-13 17:12:34

Sounds good, prism. Thanks for the enlightenment smile

I did a TEFL course last year & it said that there are actually only two tenses - present and past. So "I am going shopping" is present, but could also be used for the future. Tenses are a minefield - I just go with what sounds right but couldn't tell you why!

prism Mon 07-Oct-13 17:57:01

Was it good, Miranda? I almost did one once upon a time and am still curious. Have fantasies of moving to Italy and earning a crust that way...

MirandaGoshawk Tue 08-Oct-13 17:14:05

No it was NOT good. Sorry for shouting but it really got my goat.

It was littered with small errors and in the end I even volunteered to go through and highlight them free of charge but they ignored that offer.

What they couldn't ignore were my emails about 'practise' and 'practice'. The course was written by Australians and as far as I could work out, Oz uses these the same way we do. So I started out by politely asking them to define the difference, and got a load of twaddle back. Then I asked them why practice & -ise seemed to be used interchangeably and got a load more twaddle back. Their problem was that they weren't even consistent with their wrong usage! They would be correct on one page & wrong on the next. I emailed that my understanding was that -ise is a verb & -ice a noun, (quite simple really if you're teaching English grammar hmm) but no, this was not the correct definition and it was all to do with degrees or moods or something. So I gave up!

The other problem was that you would be given the info and then be tested on it, but often the questions were ambiguous, so when I got the answers back I'd think, So that's what they wanted...

This bunch were called Tefl-express. There are others who might be less of a shambles. Check to see that their qualifications are accepted by reputable EFL colleges if you want to teach at one. Tefl-express' diploma is only accepted at their own teaching places in China, Spain etc. hmm. On the upside, I just wanted a taster, (which I got), it cost me about £60 IIRC from Groupon, and it did give me a bit of paper to wave under students' noses so I have eased myself into teaching this summer with a local Italian au pair. So I am going to have to do a 'proper' course sometime, but feel that I've got a head start.

prism Tue 08-Oct-13 22:19:20

Oo er. Sounds like pedant hell. But at least you've made a start and I expect that's a lot more fun than the course itself. Perhaps you should set up teaching remedial English to Australians. Many, many, years ago I was accepted on a course at a place called ITTI but then couldn't actually do the course, my life changed completely, and it all went away. But now the DCs are into double figures (I have to take my shoes and socks off to count their ages), I wonder what I might do with myself when pack lunches are a distant memory...

MirandaGoshawk Wed 09-Oct-13 11:56:24

We went to Majorca on holiday & in Palma, right across the road from the beach, I saw a building with a big banner - English lessons! So that got me dreaming about teaching in the mornings, sunbathing in the afternoons... my own darlings are coming out of the baked-bean cuisine years and it would suit both DH & I if I were to swan off for a few months at a time.

The Tefl-express certificate was not hard to get. I got two marks short of a distinction in spite of not understanding the wording of half the questions. The alarming thing, if you look at their website, is that they are training young people, some of whom may themselves have English as a second language (such as Scandis), and sending them to China to teach English. But the upside is that they would take me too grin.

MirandaGoshawk Wed 09-Oct-13 11:58:07

Apologies to the OP for hijacking her thread, btw smile.

EverythingUnderControl Wed 09-Oct-13 12:01:56

As Captain Beefheart once said 'The past sure is tense..'grin

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