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Dear teachers,

I would like to ask you a big favour. Would you please tell me if my verbs are in the right tense ? When I give 2 possibilities, would you please tell me which of a) or b) is incorrect and why?

Dear Bob,

I 1 AM JUST WRITING to let you know our new address and to invite you 2 TO our house-warming party next Saturday. I 3 AM sorry 4 a) ABOUT / b) FOR the lack of warning, but we 5 a) HAVE BEEN / b) WERE (possible ?) busy moving house and I 6 a) HAVE HAD / b) HAD (possible?) 7 LITTLE time for anything else. 8 IN any case we 9 a) HAVE ONLY DECIDED / b) ONLY DECIDED / c) HAD ONLY DECIDED to hold the party last week when we 10 FOUND OUT that the cost of moving 11 WAS not as high as we 12 a) HAD RECKONED / b) RECKONED and that we 13 HAD 14 a) A LITTLE / b) SOME cash to spare.

We 15 MOVED 16 IN here two days ago and we 17 HAVE BEEN WORKING non-stop ever since. This evening we 18 a) DECIDED / b) HAVE DECIDED to have 19 a) A FEW / b) SOME hours’ rest, so I 20 A% WRITING 21) A FEW invitations to 22 SOME friends. // b) SOME invitations to SOME friends (possible ?)

You 23 a) CAN DO / b) SHOULD DO the trip 24 FROM Oxford 25 TO Portsmouth 26 IN two hours now the motorway 27 IS open. Harpole is rather difficult to find through, because it’s a new housing estate and 28 FEW people know where it is. Give us a ring when you 29 ARE 30 IN the area, and I 31 WILL GIVE detailed directions 32 TO you then. Our number is 7453.

Barbara and I hope you 33 a) CAN MAKE / b) WILL MAKE (incorrect?) it in spite of the short notice.

All the best.
Charles

Is it true that after the verb "hope" we cannot use the future?

Thank you very much for your help.
Hela
1 2
Comments  
I have left the correct forms, Hela:

Dear Bob,

I AM JUST WRITING to let you know our new address and to invite you TO our house-warming party next Saturday. I AM sorry ABOUT/FOR the lack of warning, but we HAVE BEEN / WERE busy moving house and I HAVE HAD LITTLE time for anything else. IN any case we ONLY DECIDED to hold the party last week when we FOUND OUT that the cost of moving WAS not as high as we HAD RECKONED / RECKONED and that we HAD A LITTLE / SOME cash to spare.

We MOVED IN here two days ago and we HAVE BEEN WORKING non-stop ever since. This evening we DECIDED to have A FEW hours’ rest, so I AM SENDING invitations to SOME/A FEW friends.

You CAN DO / SHOULD BE ABLE TO DO the trip FROM Oxford TO Portsmouth IN two hours now THAT the motorway IS open. Harpole is rather difficult to find, THOUGH, because it’s a new housing estate and FEW people know where it is. Give us a ring when you ARE IN the area, and I WILL GIVE detailed directions TO you then. Our number is 7453.

Barbara and I hope you CAN MAKE / b) WILL BE ABLE TO MAKE it in spite of the short notice.

All the best.
Charles

'I hope to see you next Friday.'
'If I am still alive tomorrow morning, I will be hoping to recover from my hangover quickly.'
Thank you very much Mr Micawber.

Have a nice weekend.
Kind regards,
Hela
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Dear teachers,

Here is another exercise. Would you please correct it for me?

Dear Joe,

Sorry it 1) has taken me so long to reply to the letter you wrote 2) in May. The trouble WAS (can we put “IS” here ?) it 3) arrived 4) in the middle of the summer exams and I 5) was just too busy to write back. That 6) is my excuse anyway.

7) On Friday, that’s 8) in three days’ time, we 9) a) ARE GOING TO BREAK UP / b) ARE BREAKING UP 10) FOR (?) the holidays. I can’t wait. My friends and I 11) have a great weekend planned. 12) On Friday evening we 13) ARE HAVING a party to celebrate the end of the school year. Then, we 14) ARE STARTING our mini adventure. 15) On Saturday morning, we 16) a) ARE GETTING UP / b) ARE GOING TO GET UP early to catch the ferry 17) to France. The boat 18) LEAVES 19) at 9.30 and 20)) GETS 21) to Calais a few minutes 22) before / after 11 o’clock.

I expect we 23) WILL STOP 24) for something to eat in a little café, and then we 25) a) WILL DRIVE / b) ARE DRIVING 26) to Amiens. We 27) are not quite sure how long it 28) WILL TAKE. You 29) a) ARE probably WONDERING / b) probably WONDER why we 30) ARE GOING to France at (is this a preposition ?) all. Well, the thing is there 31) a) IS / b) WILL BE (possible ?) a Slur (what is this ?) concert in Amiens 32) in the evening – 33) at a place called Megacity – and it 34) SEEMED like a really exciting idea. It 35) at 9 o’clock, so as long as we 36) keep driving, we 37)) WILL GET there 38) in good time.

We 39) WILL probably SPEND Sunday and Monday 40) looking around that part of France, and then 41) catch the Tuesday morning ferry back 42) to Dover.

I 43) WILL SEND you a postcard if I 44) have time.

Hope you 45) a) HAVE / b WILL HAVE a good summer. 46) a) ARE you DOING / b) WILL you BE DOING anything exciting? Write soon.

Love, Sue

Thank you all in advance for your help.
Hela
Dear Joe,

Sorry it 1) has taken me so long to reply to the letter you wrote 2) in May. The trouble WAS (can we put “IS” here ?yes) it 3) arrived 4) in the middle of the summer exams and I 5) was just too busy to write back. That 6) is my excuse anyway.

7) On Friday, that’s 8) in three days’ time, we 9) a) ARE GOING TO BREAK UP / b) ARE BREAKING UPeither OK 10) FOR (?)OK the holidays. I can’t wait. My friends and I 11) have a great weekend planned. 12) On Friday evening we 13) ARE HAVING a party to celebrate the end of the school year. Then, we 14) ARE STARTING our mini adventure. 15) On Saturday morning, we 16) a) ARE GETTING UP / b) ARE GOING TO GET UP either OK early to catch the ferry 17) to France. The boat 18) LEAVES 19) at 9.30 and 20)) GETS 21) to Calais a few minutes 22) before / after 11 o’clock.

I expect we 23) WILL STOP 24) for something to eat in a little café, and then we 25) a) WILL DRIVEyes / b) ARE DRIVINGI'd say no - not with "expect" 26) to Amiens. We 27) are not quite sure how long it 28) WILL TAKE. You 29) a) ARE probably WONDERINGyes / b) probably WONDERno why we 30) ARE GOING to France at (is this a preposition ?) yes all. Well, the thing is there 31) a) IS / b) WILL BE (possible ?no) a Slur (what is this ? name of a group?) concert in Amiens 32) in the evening – 33) at a place called Megacity – and it 34) SEEMED like a really exciting idea. It is 35) at 9 o’clock, so as long as we 36) keep driving, we 37)) WILL GET there 38) in good time.

We 39) WILL probably SPEND Sunday and Monday 40) looking around that part of France, and then 41) catch the Tuesday morning ferry back 42) to Dover.

I 43) WILL SEND you a postcard if I 44) have time.

Hope you 45) a) HAVE yes / b WILL HAVE no a good summer. 46) a) ARE you DOING / b) WILL you BE DOING either OK anything exciting? Write soon.

Love, Sue

Comment: The whole thing would read more smoothly if you used contractions "we're", "we'll", "I'm", "I'll", and so on.

CJ
Hi CJ,
The trouble WAS (can we put “IS” here ?yes) it 3) arrived 4) in the middle of the summer exams and I 5) was just too busy to write back.


I'm confused as to why present tense "IS" is allowed in this sentence. I thought the trouble was already over, so only past tense could be applied here.

Thanks.
Kit
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"is" works in the context of the surrounding sentences, all of which are stated from a present point of view. "trouble" is used almost as if it were "reason" -- the reason it has taken so long to reply.

Indicators of the present point of view are shown in bold below. Note the implied present tense "am" at the very beginning.

(I am) Sorry it has taken me so long to reply to the letter you wrote 2) in May. The trouble IS (that) it arrived ... to write back. That is my excuse anyway.

All uses of past tenses are subordinate in this passage.

So, condensed it says:

I am sorry.
It has taken long to reply.
The trouble (reason that it has taken so long) is that ...
That is my excuse.

All completely consistent with the present point of view!

Emotion: smile
Many thanks, CJ.

To be sure I've fully grasped your explanation, I've cooked up a few sentences. Could you please review for me?

Let's say A and B are now gossiping about Jerry, a classmate, at the school canteen.

A: Jerry was late for his class yesterday.
B: The reason *** ("is" not possible here) that he likes to stay up late at night.

A: Jerry doesn't like to talk to girls.
B: The reason *** ("was" not possible here) that he was once ditched by a girl two years ago.

A: Jerry hasn't submitted his final year project.
B: The reason *** ("was" possible here) that he was busy helping his brother's wedding recently.

Thanks.

Kit
A: Jerry was late for his class yesterday.
B: The reason *** ("is" not possible here) that he likes to stay up late at night.

CJ: The reason is that he likes to stay up late at night.
CJ: The reason is/was that he stayed up late the previous night.
[No, I think 'is' is fine. You can almost always state what a reason is to focus on your current opinion of what that reason is.]

A: Jerry doesn't like to talk to girls.
B: The reason *** ("was" not possible here) that he was once ditched by a girl two years ago.

CJ: The reason is that he was once ... [Yes, I agree.]

A: Jerry hasn't submitted his final year project.
B: The reason *** ("was" possible here) that he was busy helping his brother's wedding recently.

CJ: The reason is/was that he was busy ... [Yes, I agree.]
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