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I was wondering if anyone could help me check whether or not these sentences are grammatically sound:

1. I had to help him because he is my friend.

I am confused if the use of the verb "is" in the dependent clause is correct. There is a rule that if the verb in the independent clause is in its past or past perfect form, the verb in the dependent or subordinated clause should also be in its past or past perfect form. However, I know that there are exceptions to this rule--such as when the object of the verb is a general or widespread fact. I am not sure if I can classify the statement above as falling under this exception. Do I use "is" or "was"?

2. We said that the title of the book is/was Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

In this case, I am more inclined to use the verb "is" because I do not think that the clause "We said" is the independent clause. There is a rule which states that if the verb in the independent clause is in a form other than the two I previously mentioned, there is no need to stick to the "should also be in the past or past perfect form" rule. My confusion lies in whether or not "the title of the book is/was Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" is the independent clause, considering that it is preceded by the dependent marker "that." Please advise.

3. Do/Does any of you dance? AND Was/Were any of you called?

"Any" is the subject in the abovementioned sentences, right? According to this grammar book I read, "any" is a problematic subject because it can either be singular or plural. How do I know when to consider it singular/plural? Please advise.

4. If I am narrating a story that happened in the past, do I always have to use verbs that are in their past tense? What if part of my narration involves something that is true until now?

Example:

I used to work for this company in the city. My building there is/was near medical and recreational facilities. One day, my back was in so much pain that I had to ask my secretary to browse the city directory and look for the closest spa to where my office is/was. She found one that is/was five minutes away. After office hours, I decided to proceed to the spa to have my massage. When I finally reached my destination, I was shocked to see that my boss was also there.

Please advise.

Thanks.
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Hi,

1. I had to help him because he is my friend.

I am confused if the use of the verb "is" in the dependent clause is correct. There is a rule that if the verb in the independent clause is in its past or past perfect form, the verb in the dependent or subordinated clause should also be in its past or past perfect form. However, I know that there are exceptions to this rule--such as when the object of the verb is a general or widespread fact. I am not sure if I can classify the statement above as falling under this exception. Do I use "is" or "was"?

'Was' is always correct.However, as you know, you can sometimes say 'is'. Here, it would be OK if 'he' is still your friend, and if the past event was in the reasonably recent past. eg If I helped him 50 seconds ago, I'd use 'is'. If I helped him 50 years ago - I'd say 'was'.

2. We said that the title of the book is/was Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

In this case, I am more inclined to use the verb "is" because I do not think that the clause "We said" is the independent clause. There is a rule which states that if the verb in the independent clause is in a form other than the two I previously mentioned, there is no need to stick to the "should also be in the past or past perfect form" rule. My confusion lies in whether or not "the title of the book is/was Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" is the independent clause, considering that it is preceded by the dependent marker "that." Please advise. To some degree, what I said above also applies here. To some degree, it also depends on whether we are talking about a specific copy of a book which is not present here but was present at the time of the past discussion, in which case I'd prefer 'was'. I wouldn't really look first at the grammar, as you seem to be doing.

3. Do/Does any of you dance? AND Was/Were any of you called? "Any" is the subject in the abovementioned sentences, right? According to this grammar book I read, "any" is a problematic subject because it can either be singular or plural. Yes. In his Practical English Usage, Michael Swan notes that When 'any of' is followed by a plural noun or pronoun, the verb can be singular or plural. A singular verb is more common in a formal style. I prefer 'do/were' here.

How do I know when to consider it singular/plural? Please advise. The same way that you know any word is singular or plural. As a simple example, consider Is any of the wall painted? Are any of the walls painted?

In your example, when you say 'you', are you referring to more than one person? Yes.

4. If I am narrating a story that happened in the past, do I always have to use verbs that are in their past tense? What if part of my narration involves something that is true until now?Sorry, I have to rush out. I'll try to come back later.Emotion: smile

Example:

I used to work for this company in the city. My building there is/was near medical and recreational facilities. One day, my back was in so much pain that I had to ask my secretary to browse the city directory and look for the closest spa to where my office is/was. She found one that is/was five minutes away. After office hours, I decided to proceed to the spa to have my massage. When I finally reached my destination, I was shocked to see that my boss was also there.

Best wishes, Clive

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Look at the word after any of to determine the number.

Are any of them ...?
Do any of us ... ?
Is any of it ... ?
Was any of the ice cream ... ?
Does any of the furniture ... ?
Do any of the cars ... ?


CJ
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Comments  
Hi again,

I'm back.Emotion: smile

4. If I am narrating a story that happened in the past, do I always have to use verbs that are in their past tense? What if part of my narration involves something that is true until now? Example:

I used to work for this company in the city. My building there is/was near medical and recreational facilities. One day, my back was in so much pain that I had to ask my secretary to browse the city directory and look for the closest spa to where my office is/was. She found one that is/was five minutes away. After office hours, I decided to proceed to the spa to have my massage. When I finally reached my destination, I was shocked to see that my boss was also there.

Again, what I said in my first comment applies to some extent. However, generally speaking, say 'was'. There is no suggestion in this particular story that it was recent. On the contrary, there are some phrases (used to, one day) that seem to root it firmly in the past.

Clive
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