# Sequence of Tenses Exercises

The principle in accordance with which the Tense of the Verb in the Subordinate Clause follows the Tense of the Verb in the Principal Clause is known as the Sequence of Tenses.

There are two main rules governing the Sequence of Tenses

Rule 1. If there is a Past Tense in the Principal Clause, it must be followed by a Past Tense in the Subordinate Clause.

Examples:

Principal Clause                                  Subordinate Clause

I knew                                                  that he wanted to go home,

He succeeded                                      because he worked hard,

He was contented                               although he was poor,

He never understood                          how this came about,

She was telling us                                that she knew the secret of his birth

The children were crying                     because they were hungry,

The train had left                                 before I reached the station,

The patient had died I would do this  before the doctor came. if I were allowed.

Rule 2. A Present or Future Tense in the Principal Clause may be followed by any tense required by the sense in the Subordinate Clause.

 Principal Clause Subordinate Clause I think that the picture is beautiful. You know that the story was not true. PRESENT He thinks that he will pass. They say that the thief was caught. They are saying that they will win the match. They have told us that the film was not good. (He will think that she works hard. FUTURE He will think that she worked hard. 1 He will think that she will work hard.

Special Rules

Besides these two main rules, there are three special rules :

Rule 3. {Exception to Rule 1). A Past Tense in the Principal Clause may be followed by a Present Tense in the Subordinate Clause when the Subordinate Clause expresses some habitual or universal fact.

That teacher taught us that the earth is round.

The King said that all men are mortal.

He learnt from his experience that pride has a fall.

Galileo proved that the earth moves round the sun.

Rule 4. When the Subordinate Clause is introduced by some Conjunction Comparison e.g. than, Rule 1 does not apply at all. Any tense can be followed by any tense.

Principal Clause                                      Subordinate Clause

She likes you better                                  than she liked me.

She liked you better                                  than she likes me.

She will like you better                              than she has liked me.

She has liked you better                            than she liked me.

She liked you better                                   than she is liking me.

She will like you better                               than she was liking me.

NOTE: If the comparison is expressed by as well as instead of than, the same rule holds good. Any tense may he followed by any tense, according to the sense intended by the speaker.

She likes me as well as she liked him.
She liked me as well as she likes him.
She will like me as well as she liked him.

Exercise 1: Fill in the blanks with the correct tense of the Verb :

1. He thinks that we_______ guilty.
2. He will think that we________ guilty.
3. He will say that Satish_______ a lie.
4. They have told us that the story______ not true.
5. He told us that honesty______ the best policy.
6. He learnt from his experience that man______mortal.
7. She loves me better than she______ her own brother.
8. He helped her more than he_______ his own children.
9. She treated you better than she_______me.
10. We worked harder last year than we __________at present.
11. The teacher taught us that the earth ___________ round.
12. She will tell you that she_____ innocent.
13. They are saying that the picture_______ beautiful.
14. I have told you that the story______ not true.
15. She said that God_______love.
16. I shall forgive you if you_____ me the truth.
17. You will think that I_____lazy.
18. The teacher says that Sita________ in the examination.
19. He loved you better than he_______ me.
20. She replied that she_________ no money with her.

Rule 5. (Conjunctions of Purpose). When the Subordinate Clause is introduced by a Conjunction of Purpose, the following two rules must be observed:

If the Verb in the Principal Clause is in the Present or Future Tense, the Verb in the Subordinate Clause must be expressed by may (.Present Tense).

PRESENT

He works hard that he may succeed.

He is working hard that he may succeed.

He has worked hard that he may succeed.

He has been working hard that he may succeed.

FUTURE

He will work hard that he may succeed.

He will be working hard that he may succeed.

He will have worked hard that he may succeed.

He will have been working hard that he may succeed.

1. If the Verb in the Principal Clause is in the Past Tense, the Verb in the Subordinate Clause must be expressed by ‘might’ (Past Tense).

He worked hard that he might succeed.

He was working hard that he might succeed.

He had worked hard that he might succeed.

He had been working hard that he might succeed.

NOTE: If the Conjunction introducing the Subordinate Clause is lest, the Verb in the Subordinate Clause is always should, whatever may be the tense of the Verb in the Principal Clause.

She works                                           lest she shouldfail.

or that she may not fail.

She will work                                     lest she should fail.

or that she may not fail.

She worked                                        lest she should fail.

or that she might not fail.

Exercise 2: Fill in the blanks with correct tense of the Verb :

1. We thought that she________ (Will or would?)
2. She ran so fast that I_______ not overtake her. (Can or could?)
3. He loved that girl more than he_______ Miss Darling. (To love)
4. I thought I______ you yesterday. (To see)
5. He helped that orphan more than he_____ his own children. (To help)
6. He respected his teacher more than he__________ his own parents. (To respect)
7. He said that he________ write to you on Monday. (Will or would?)
8. He is working hard that he______ (May or might?)
9. I was informed that he______ much better. (To be)
10. He worked hard that he__________ win the first prize in English. (May or might?)
11. When I saw her, I______ to her. (To speak)
12. He worked hard that he________ become rich. (May or might?)
13. She ran lest she_______ miss the train. (Shall or should?)
14. I shall nurse her that she________ (May or might?)
15. We eat that we________ (May or might?)
16. I left this place as soon as I_______ the news. (To hear)
17. They fought that they______ (May or might?)
18. There was a rumour that he_______ in the fire. (To perish)
19. He came upon me as suddenly as if he______ from the sky. (To drop)
20. The more he earned the more he________ to earn. (To want)

Exercise 3: Correct the following sentences :

1. She never told me what her plans are.
2. The teacher taught the boys that honesty was the best policy.
3. The teacher said that oil was lighter than water.
4. He asked her when he may call on her.
5. The doctor said that she will soon get better.
6. I warned her lest she may make a mistake.
7. The teacher taught us that the earth moved round the sun.
8. He was so tired that he can scarcely stand.
9. I was afraid lest you may get hurt.
10. We asked her what is her name.