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Present or past/ that

Forum > English only || Bottom

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Present or past/ that
Message from mohammad51 posted on 18-01-2018 at 15:10:26 (D | E | F)
Please help
I answered this question in this site and the answer is usually to use the present tense, but someone recommended with that, we must use the past simple or with could .....
Here it is:
fill by the correct form of the verb
How many people ...(you/see) in that room?
My answer: How many people do you see in that room?

Quotation of what he\she said:
The word ''that'' (a demonstrative of remoteness) gives us the hint it's about a past action. It's unusual to ask ''How many people do you see (present simple) in THAT room?'', it makes no sense, Either the room is here - in which case we have to use ''this'' if we expect a present tense answer.or ''that'' should be replaced by ''the''. Therefore, the sentence should have read: ''How many people you.......(to see)in the room?''...Then we could have used ''can/do/could/did you see'' . Otherwise, ''could/did you see'' are to be used. if we keep ''that''.
I noticed online many examples use that\ this in the same tenses
That was such an interesting experience.
Are those your shoes? ( present simple)
You’ll have to get your own pen. This is mine.
There is no end to this.
Is that yours? ( present simple)
Please give me one of those. ( present simple)
These are nice-looking.

My question:
Is it not correct to use the present simple with THAT?

Edited by lucile83 on 18-01-2018 15:51

Re: Present or past/ that from gerondif, posted on 19-01-2018 at 10:14:58 (D | E)
1) with verbs of perception like to see, to hear, to smell, to feel, to taste, since we can't use the ing form, we use can as a replacement:
I can see you !!
I can smell smoke coming out of the kitchen.
I can feel a stone in my shoe.
I can hear you !
I can taste sugar in my soup! Who did that ??

If those verbs are action verbs, then the ing form is possible:
What are you doing ? I am tasting the soup, I am hearing the sub-committee on abortion, I am smelling the cheese to see if itsn't too strong, I am seeing (meeting) my friend.

2) That or those indicates something that is far away in distance or in time:
In those days, people used to cycle to work.
At that time, I wasn't a teacher yet.

No, there is no law saying that you can't use a present tense when that is in the sentence; It is all a matter of interpretation.
If you are watching a room far away with binoculars, nobody can prevent you from saying: What can you see in that room ?

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Forum > English only


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