"The project uses funds that had been earmarked for education." Somebody found this sentence in an English dictionary, and thought it as incorrect, arguing that there should have been either "...uses the funds…have been earmarked ..." or "...used the funds...had been earmarked..." . So there occured a debate over whether it's a grammatical mistake or it's that the author had deliberately expressed that way to produce a special connotation or implication. I think the latter form(... used the funds...had been earmarked...) would sound correct and natural. But I'm wondering, additionally, 1) if there would ever be a context or situation where " ... USES the funds... should sound correct and natural. For example, is it possible to be when one is stating their plan or arrangement, where a series of people and their relevant actions are presented in order? 2) if 1) is possible, is "...USES the funds...HAD been earmarked..." possible? If still possible, what is the difference between it and "...uses the funds...HAVE been marked..."?
Sep 27, 2019 12:59 PM
Answers · 4
Both “had” and “have” are correct. They have different meanings. “Had” (the funds were earmarked for education at one time but they aren’t any more) “Have” (the funds were earmarked for education) “Have” suggests something perhaps a little improper in the process, I.e. the funds should still be used for education. “Had” gives the history of where the funds come from. Uses, is using, will use. Doesn’t make a difference.
September 27, 2019
This is a good question. I tempted to say that your friend is correct. It should use present simple with present perfect, or past simple with past perfect. More context is needed to know for sure. Present simple with present perfect: "The project uses funds that have been earmarked for education." The project is presently active and ongoing. The were earmarked for education in the past but exactly when is irrelevant, so it is appropriate to use present perfect (have been earmarked). Past simple with past perfect: "The project used funds that had been earmarked for eductation." The project is finished, in the past. One action (earmark) occurred before another action in the past (use), so past perfect is appropriate. I say more context is needed for a few reasons. Is the project completed or currently active? Is the project currently active but there was another related event (in the preceding sentence perhaps) that occurred in the past but after the funds were earmarked? I could see an argument that present simple and past perfect might be used in the same sentence. For example: "Many people criticized the current project at the board meeting because the project uses funds that had been earmarked for education." In this example, the project is currently active. "Criticize" occurred in the past, "earmark" before that.
September 27, 2019
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