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Question
Dear Ted:

Which of the following questions is grammatically correct?

1) Why did you write XYZ but you GO on to say the opposite?

2) Why did you write XYZ but you WENT on to say the opposite?

Thank you,

Paolo

Answer
Dear Paolo:

Which of the following questions is grammatically correct?

1) Why did you write XYZ but you GO on to say the opposite?

2) Why did you write XYZ but you WENT on to say the opposite?

*** Both are correct, depending on which tense is preferred.  #1 and #2 both place the setting in the past tense, with the use of the verb "did write."

However, #1 continues with the present tense, "GO ON."  "GO ON to say the opposite"  means that AFTER your writing of XYZ [past], your going on is in the present tense.  For example, yesterday you wrote [past] something, but today, you go on to say [present] something different.

#2 is all in the past tense.  Both the writing and the saying happened in the past.

*** Neither sentence is good.  They are both somewhat confusing.  "Why did you write one thing yesterday and write a completely different thing today?"  [The helping verb "did" applies to both uses of "write."  I am just NOT repeating the two words.]

Ted  

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Ted Nesbitt

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I am the bibliographic instruction and reference librarian at a public college. Some members of the English department recommend me to their students. I offer assistance in grammar, punctuation, sentence structure, and paragraph development. My master`s thesis concerns William Faulkner`s tragic novels. I formerly taught advanced placement English at two schools in the Philadelphia area.

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I have been one of the highest-ranked volunteers in this category for more than a decade.

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B. A. and M. A in English; MSIS in Library & Information Sciences; graduate study in philosophy

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