English as a Second Language/english -tenses

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Question
QUESTION: hello maam.what will come in the given blank?when i reached the farmhouse i saw the house was empty.i wondered where the owners might have gone(it was/is likely)........the barn owner was not a farmer,because of the leaky barn and the boulders.........(it is/was possible)the family was poor,because i saw several sealed jars in the cellar.
what is the suitable option.the present or the past and why?

it is not a homework question.it is a part of a report writing.

ANSWER: Hello Anabell,


When I reached the farmhouse I saw the house was empty. I wondered where the owners might have gone. It was likely the barn owner was not a farmer, because of the leaky barn and the boulders.It was possible the family was poor,because I saw several sealed jars in the cellar.

The suitable option here is the past tense because the entire text is written in the past tense: reached, saw, wondered, saw.

I hope this helps.

Best,

Amy

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: thanks for your swift reply ma'am.i am grateful to you. But will it be wrong if we use the present tense?can we use past and present together.if yes what should be the condition?

thank you

Answer
Anabell,

in the example you asked about, you need to be consistent with the tenses, so you should be using the past tense for all the verbs there.

As far as mixing the present and the past, yes, you can do that. You can read more about mixing these two tenses here:

http://www.dailywritingtips.com/5-lessons-for-mixing-past-and-present-tense/

I hope this helps.

Best,

Amy

English as a Second Language

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Amy Baker

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I can answer question about grammar, spelling, syntax, idioms, reading and/or writing that pertain to English as a Second Language. I am knowledgeable about both TOEFL and IELTS.

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I'm a certified ESL teacher with 12 years of experience teaching K-12 and adults.

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