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Scenario:

I'm planning to drop off some stuff at my uncle's place before I leave for vacation, because I'm moving to another apartment and there's just too much stuff for storage. (has not happened yet)

A: Why are you going to your Uncle's place, I thought it's/was the opposite direction to where you are/were headed?

Do we sometimes use the past tense to describe something that hasn't happened or is in the future?

B: If I didn't/don't have to go, I probably won't be stopping by....

Shouldn't it be don't since didn't is in past tense? But I'm talking about something in the future that hasn't happened yet. Why would I say: If I didn't have to go, I probably wouldn't be stopping by.

Do people mix and match tenses:

I thought it is the opposite direction to where you were headed?
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Comments  
I thought it was in the opposite direction from where you were headed.

The sequence of tenses takes precedence. Backshifts are nearly mandatory after verbs of knowing and thinking in the past. That is, once you've got thought or knew(or a verb of similar meaning in the past tense), the whole sentence goes into the past. It doesn't have to make sense; it's just the way it is. Emotion: smile

I knew it was there.
He thought you were ready.
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Both of the following express a situation in present time and its consequences in the future.

If I don't have to go, I probably won't be stopping by. ["first conditional" pattern]

If I didn't have to go, I probably wouldn't be stopping by. ["second conditional" pattern]

The use of the past tense in the second if clause is not intended to indicate past time, i.e., remoteness in time, but to indicate the remoteness in imagination. That is, the first one takes place in the real world; the second takes place in the imaginary world of hypotheses that the mind can create.
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People don't mix tenses unless there is a good reason to do so.

CJ
CalifJimI thought it was in the opposite direction from where you were headed.

The sequence of tenses takes precedence. Backshifts are nearly mandatory after verbs of knowing and thinking in the past. That is, once you've got thought or knew (or a verb of similar meaning in the past tense), the whole sentence goes into the past. It doesn't have to make sense; it's just the way it is.

But the article on wikipedia says that there are times when you do mix the tenses:

One view is the natural sequence of tenses. According to this view, the tense of a verb in a subordinate clause is not determined by the tense of the verb in the superordinate clause, but is determined simply according to the sense of the clause taken apart from the rest of the sentence.

In this view, both of the following sentences are proper. The tense of the main verb "say " does not affect the tense of the subordinate verb "need ", which remains in the present tense because it describes a continuing state of affairs.
Batman says that he needs a special key for the Batmobile.
Batman said that he needs a special key for the Batmobile.

Another view is the attracted sequence of tenses. According to this view, the tense of a verb in a subordinate clause is determined by the tense of the verb in the superordinate clause. It is this view, and the problems that it causes, that has generated the most discussion amongst grammarians.[3]

The attracted sequence can be summarized as follows: If the main verb of a sentence is in the past tense , then other verbs must also express a past viewpoint, except when a general truth is being expressed.[6]

In the attracted sequence, therefore, the second of the Batman examples would be corrected so that the subordinate verb was in the past tense:

Batman said that he needed a special key for the Batmobile.
Could someone please explain what the attracted sequence of tenses and natural sequence of tenses are?
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I don't know how the devil smiley got there...but for some reason if you click on it, it takes you straight to the wikipedia page on 'sequence of tenses....'
CalifJimIt doesn't have to make sense; it's just the way it is.
I like this Emotion: big smile.
pleasehelpCould someone please explain what the attracted sequence of tenses and natural sequence of tenses are?
That's just another way of saying "with backshifts, regardless of meaning" (attracted), and "depending on meaning, regardless of whether there are backshifts or not" (natural).

He says he is tired. -- "Original"

He said he was tired. -- "Backshifted" He is tired becomes He was tired under the influence (or attraction) of the main verb said.
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In your place I wouldn't spend a lot of time disentangling this material. Most people don't use the terms "natural" and "attracted" when speaking of tense relationships.

CJ
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What about this sentence:

I want to let you know how much I missed you.

I'm trying to tell a person in the present how much I missed him.

Or should it be I wanted to let you know how much I missed you. But wouldn't this make the statement past tense then?
pleasehelpshould it be I wanted to let you know how much I missed you.
No. It can be I want with how much I missed.

This situation is completely different. You have want to in the main clause here. You don't have thought that, knew that, found that, believed that, or anything like that. And you're not reporting speech with things like said that, declared that, claimed that, and so on.

CJ
CalifJimYou don't have thought that, knew that, found that, believed that, or anything like that. And you're not reporting speech with things like said that, declared that, claimed that, and so on.
Oh yeh! Thought, found, believed, etc...If you thought about it's like thinking in the past or already thinked it through...so of course...

What about this sentence?

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