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Non-past verbs in past から clauses

Davide92

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Hi guys! So, I've found these sentences in my textbook:

  1. 早く起きないから、遅れたんだよ。 "Because you didn't get up early, you were late"
  2. そんなことを言うから、嫌われたんだよ。"Because you said such a thing, you were hated".
The book doesn't really explain why the verbs in the subordinate clauses are in non-past form. From what I understand, this is something specific to から clauses. Are these basically 'timeless' clauses whose position in time is determined by the main clause? Also, would it be wrong to use a past tense instead (起きなかった、言った) ?

Thanks!
 

Toritoribe

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Actually, the reason why the present/non-past forms are used there is a little bit complicated.

Basically, in the structure "Aから/ので、B", the tense of A differs depending on the temporal order of the two event A and B.

1)
When the temporal order is B --> A, A is the present form.

日本に行くから、日本語を勉強した。
The subject learned Japaese before going to Japan. (learned Japanese first, and then went to Japan)

2)
When the temporal order is A --> B, A is the past form.

日本に行ったから、日本語を勉強した。
The subject learned Japanese after going to Japan.
(went to Japan first, and then learned Japanese in Japan, or learned after coming back to the home country, because they had interest in Japanese culture in Japan, for instance.)

The present form and past form are not interchangeable in #1 and 2. However, there are some cases that the present form can be used even when the order is A --> B.

3)
When A expresses a state or an action that has a time length (i.e., not an instantaneous action), A and B are at the same time, and both the present and past form work well for A.

疲れている/いたから、散歩に行かなかった。
Because I was tired, I didn't go for a walk.
疲れている/いた is a state. When the speaker was about to go for a walk, they were tired at the time. (Note that 疲れているから and 疲れていたから are interchangeable, but 疲れるから散歩に行かなかった and 疲れたから散歩に行かなかった are not the same in meaning, since 疲れる is an instantaneous action.)

4)
When the subjects of the two clauses A and B are not the same, and A expresses a state or an action that has a time length, the present form can be used for A even when the order is A --> B.

父が怒るから、宿題をした。
This sentence is ambiguous. Two interpretations, A --> B (I did my home work after my father scolded me) and B --> A (I did my home work in order not to be scolded by my father, i.e., my father didn't scold me) are both possible.

cf.
父に怒られるから、宿題をした。
This sentence only expresses B --> A, i.e., my father didn't scold me since the subjects of the two clauses are both "I". If my father really scolded me, and therefore I did my home work, 父に怒られたから、宿題をした。is used.

5)
In the structure "Aから/ので、Bのだ", when B is unpleasant or has a negative nuance for the speaker, and the sentence has a nuance to blame the subject of B for that, A can be the present form even for the order A --> B.

Your examples belong to this category. The temporal orders are "you didn't get up early first, and then you were late" and "you said such a thing first, and then you were hated", and the speaker is blaming the listener.

cf.
早く起きたから、遅れなかったんだよ。
There is no blame or nagative nuance in this sentence, and the order is A --> B, so the present form 起きる cannot be used here.

彼は、あんなことを言ったから、彼女に嫌われた。
This is an objective description. The present form 言うから is acceptable, but it more likely expresses his habit/repeated action, not a one-off action.

As you can see above, only the case #1, i.e., only when the temporal order is B -- > A, the past form cannot be used in the subordinate clause A. In other words, there is no problem to use the past form if the order is A --> B even for the cases #2~5. Thus, 早く起きなかったから、遅れたんだよ。 and そんなことを言ったから、嫌われたんだよ。 are both valid.

Hope this explanation won't cause more confusion to you.😅 (And don't hesitate to ask if you have any questions.:))
 

Davide92

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Wow, that sure is a detailed answer! Thank you so much for sharing this! 😁

The overall picture is clear, I'd like to ask a few questions to make sure I've really got this right:

-Would 疲れるから散歩に行かなかった mean something like "Because I knew that walking would make me tired, I didn't go for a walk", or in other words, "I didn't go for a walk in order not to get tired" ?

- As for 疲れたから散歩に行かなかった, would this be "because I had previously become tired, I didn't go for a walk." ? This seems pretty similar to 疲れている/いたから、散歩に行かなかった. Maybe with 疲れた the focus is on the change from 'non-tiredness' to tiredness that occurred before action B, while with 疲れている/いた the focus is on the state of tiredness that was there at the beginning of B?

- Finally, you said that 彼は、あんなことを言うから、彼女に嫌われた likely expresses the habit/repeated action of 彼. That makes sense, but it seems a bit ambiguous - if, say, the speaker and the woman are friends, couldn't this sentence also express the speaker's anger at 彼? (which would, in turn, make the temporal order A --> B possible)
 

Toritoribe

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-Would 疲れるから散歩に行かなかった mean something like "Because I knew that walking would make me tired, I didn't go for a walk", or in other words, "I didn't go for a walk in order not to get tired" ?
Exactly!

- As for 疲れたから散歩に行かなかった, would this be "because I had previously become tired, I didn't go for a walk." ? This seems pretty similar to 疲れている/いたから、散歩に行かなかった. Maybe with 疲れた the focus is on the change from 'non-tiredness' to tiredness that occurred before action B, while with 疲れている/いた the focus is on the state of tiredness that was there at the beginning of B?
疲れた is close to the perfect tense, so the time when the speaker got tired could be a bit before B (e.g. got tired in morning, and tried to go for walk in afternoon), and might somewhat recover from tiredness already, but the meaning is almost the same.

- Finally, you said that 彼は、あんなことを言うから、彼女に嫌われた likely expresses the habit/repeated action of 彼. That makes sense, but it seems a bit ambiguous - if, say, the speaker and the woman are friends, couldn't this sentence also express the speaker's anger at 彼? (which would, in turn, make the temporal order A --> B possible)
The key of this expression is のだ/んだ at the end of the sentence. This is a spoken language, and のだ/んだ shows the speaker's strong assertion, request, demand, etc. I dropped のだ to show that it's an objective description, as I wrote. It usually doesn't express the speaker's anger without のだ/んだ.
 

Davide92

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The key of this expression is のだ/んだ at the end of the sentence. This is a spoken language, and のだ/んだ shows the speaker's strong assertion, request, demand, etc. I dropped のだ to show that it's an objective description, as I wrote. It usually doesn't express the speaker's anger without のだ/んだ.
Oops I'd forgotten about the のだ/んだ part... Now everything is clear. Thanks Toritoribe-san!
 
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