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In Russian, the tense of the verb in the subordinate clause does not depend on the tense of the verb in the principal clause.




Past Indefinite Present
I knew she played the piano every day. Я знал, что она играет (играла) на рояле каждый день.
Past Continuous Present
I knew she was playing the piano and did not want to disturb her. Я знал, что она играет (играла) на рояле, и не хотел ее беспокоить.
Past Perfect Past
I knew she had played the piano at the evening party. Я знал, что она играла на рояле на вечере.
Past Perfect Continuous (Past Perfect Inclusive) Present (in affirmative sentences)
I knew she had been playing (had played) the piano for two hours. Я знал, что она играет (играла) на рояле два часа.
Past Perfect Past (in negative sentences)
I knew she had not played the piano for a long time. Я знал, что она давно не играла (не играет) на рояле.
Past Perfect Continuous Exclusive Past
I knew she had been playing the piano. Я знал, что она играла на рояле.
Future in the Past Future
I knew she would play the piano at the evening party. Я знал, что она будет играть на рояле на вечере.


§ 7. The main sphere where the sequence of tenses is applied is object clauses.


Harris said he knew what kind of place I meant. (Jerome)


The sequence of tenses is not observed if the object clause expresses a general truth:


The pupils knew that water consists of oxygen and hydrogen.


In political language a present tense is often used in the object clause after a past tense in the principal clause.


The speaker saidthat the peoples wantpeace.


The sequence of tenses is often not observed if something is represented as habitual, customary, or characteristic.


He asked the guard what time the train usually starts.(Curme)

Hedid not seemto know that nettles sting. (Curme)

In conventional direct speech the tenses are used according to the same principle which governs their uses in complex sentences with a principal clause and an object clause, though there is no principal clause.


She put her hands up to her ears; it was because there were . some thin gold

rings in them, which were also worth a little money. Yes, she couldsurely get

some money for her ornaments. The landlord and landlady had beengood to

her; perhaps they would helpher to get the money for these things. But this

money would not keepher long; what shouldshe dowhen it wasgone?



§ 9. The sequence of tenses does not concern attributive relative clauses and adverbial clauses of cause, result, comparison, and concession (if the verb stands in the Indicative Mood).


I didn’t go outof the shop door, but at the back door, which opensinto a

narrow alley. (Eliot)

He didn’t goto the cinema last night because he will havean exam


She workedso much yesterday that she is feelingquite weak today.

Last year he workedmore than he doesthis year.

He insistedon going to the library yesterday, though he will not wantthe

book today.


§ 10. The sequence of tenses is generally observed in subject clauses and predicative clauses:


What he would do wasof no importance.

The question waswhat he would donext.


It is also observed in appositive attributive clauses:


She hada sickening sense that life would go onin this way. (Eliot)

Chapter XIX


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