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Grammatik auf Englisch - Aus der Vergangenheit betrachtet

Schlagwörter: Grammatik auf Englisch, Englisch Grammatik, Englische Grammatik, Englisch Grammar, Gramatik auf Englisch, Englisch Gramatik, Englische Gramatik, Englisch Grammar, Englische Zeiten, Grammatik, Zeit, Datum, Vergangenheit

One of the more confusing areas of English is which tense to use when the reference point is not the present. For example, which tenses do you use when you wish to refer to an event that was in the future at the time of action, but now the time of action and event are in the past? It’s not as easy as converting the action to the past tense. The feeling of referring to the future must be preserved.

Let’s start by looking at the baseline:

The future seen from the present
The will future is used to talk about our hopes, fears, expectations, promises, and the like. It is also used to talk about future actions we cannot control, and with phrases beginning ‘I think…’:

I will be happy to help you.
Sharon says she will think about it tomorrow.
I think it will snow tomorrow.


The going to future is used to talk about things you intend or decide or arrange to do. It is also used to describe events you know now will happen for sure:

Michael is going to invite Susan to the event tomorrow.
Mr James is going to put in a good word for me.
I’m going to go to Bonn in the morning.
We’re going to visit our manufacturing facility tomorrow.


The present progressive is used to describe things that are planned or definitely decided:

What are you doing next week?
I’m presenting at the partner event.
I’m reviewing status with the team.


The present simple is used to talk about arrival and departure times, and is also used when discussing the times of future events:

My flight leaves at 8.
The networking party begins at 9.
You are to have that finished by the end of the week.


The future seen from the past
Now let’s say the present has become the past. The future has become the present, and you wish to talk about something that was a future event, but is no longer.
Because the present has become the past, you need to use the past tense.
will becomes would

You also need to put all other verbs into the past tense. Take a look at the examples from above:

( I said ) I would be happy to help you.
Sharon said she would think about it.
I thought it would snow.


Note that when you put present statements into the past, you often need to rephrase them as reported speech.

is/are going to becomes was/were going to

Take a look at the examples from above:

Michael was going to present at the event.
Mr James was going to put in a good word for me.
I was going to go to Bonn in the morning.
We were going to visit our manufacturing facility.


In certain situations, you shouldn’t leave the listener hanging:

I was going to call you first thing in the morning, but then remembered you would be in a meeting, so I sent you an email.

The going to future used in the past can thus often develop the feeling of being an excuse:

I was going to send you an email, but completely forgot.

This is not necessarily a stumbling block, but you should be aware that using this tense too often can leave you sounding like someone who always has good intentions but never acts on them. Consider this alternative:

I’m sorry. I said I would send you an email. I completely forgot.

The former feels like an intention that was not realized. The latter sounds like an understandable, human error that anyone could make.


Note
In business, it is very common to ex-press a failed intention with I was going to… or We were going to… This does not mean that the original statement had to use the going to future. The following is correct:
I will call you in the morning.
I was going to call you yesterday morning, but…

Not:
I am going to call you in the morning.


Present progressive becomes past progressive

Take a look at the examples from above:

What were you doing last week?
I was presenting at the partner event.
I was reviewing project status with the team.



Important!
Remember to change any elements of the sentence that implied the future to reflect the past state.
What are you doing next week? thus might become What were you doing last week?



Present simple becomes past simple
Take a look at the examples from above:

My flight left at 8.
The networking party began at 9.
You were to have that finished by the end of the week.

Schlagwörter: Grammatik auf Englisch, Englisch Grammatik, Englische Grammatik, Englisch Grammar, Gramatik auf Englisch, Englisch Gramatik, Englische Gramatik, Englisch Grammar, Englische Zeiten, Grammatik, Zeit, Datum, Vergangenheit

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