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Thread: Choice of Tense

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    Choice of Tense

    In the Definitions clause of an English translation of a business contract, there is a definition which runs as follows:
    Business Period: a calendar month during which Aggregator’s Services were provided pursuant to this Contract.

    Does "were" work here, or is it totally wrong, and a different tense should have been used? Bear in mind that it is just a definition, and we are not talking here about any specific business period in the past. But within the body of the contract, the term business period usually refers to past periods, which has probably affected my point of view and, as a result, the original choice of tense.

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    Re: Choice of Tense

    The way it's written implies that no further business periods can or will occur in the future and that the contract covers only events that have already taken place (which would be unusual, but not impossible). Unless that is the case, I'd go with "are" instead.

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    Re: Choice of Tense

    Quote Originally Posted by scotcher
    The way it's written implies that no further business periods can or will occur in the future and that the contract covers only events that have already taken place
    Thanks, that makes sense

    Quote Originally Posted by scotcher
    I'd go with "are" instead.
    Yes, "are" is probably the best solution.

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    Re: Choice of Tense

    So, I think we can reproduce the similar case in Russian.

    1. Период работ: календарный месяц, в течение которого услуги агрегатора оказывались, согласно данному контракту.
    2. Период работ: календарный месяц, в течение которого услуги агрегатора оказываются, согласно данному контракту.
    3. Период работ: календарный месяц, в течение которого услуги агрегатора будут оказываться, согласно данному контракту.

    Even though, strictly speaking the second option is the most accurate, all three might be acceptable and adequate. I can even make case for the third option, as the contract is obviously signed before any business activity takes place.

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    Re: Choice of Tense

    I'd use the Present Perfect Tense:
    Business Period: a calendar month during which Aggregator’s Services have been provided pursuant to this Contract.

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    Re: Choice of Tense

    Quote Originally Posted by alexone
    I'd use the Present Perfect Tense:
    Business Period: a calendar month during which Aggregator’s Services have been provided pursuant to this Contract.
    I stand corrected, that would indeed be better.

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    Re: Choice of Tense

    Quote Originally Posted by translationsnmru
    Business Period: a calendar month during which Aggregator’s Services were provided pursuant to this Contract.
    Not having seen the original, I prefer "are provided" as the translation. "Have been provided" makes it sound as if the services have already been rendered or that business periods will only be discussed once they are in progress or have ended. "Are" gives the most general definition, which encompasses business periods past, current, and to come. Presumably the folks signing the contract will want to discuss their upcoming business periods as well as present or past ones, yes?

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    Re: Choice of Tense

    Business Period: a calendar month during which Aggregator’s Services were provided pursuant to this Contract.


    It is possible to be very specific about this:

    Business Period: any calendar month during which Aggregator's services have been or are being provided pursuant to this contract.

    This specifically includes past and present. If it is not necessary to be so specific, all of the other options are adequate (were, are, have been). "Are" seems to have an advantage by including the future, but any conflict about contract terms is likely to only be interested in the past. "Have been" is wonderful if things are limited to completed months.

    It is also possible to expand things this way:
    Business Period: any month, or part thereof, during which Aggregator's services have been provided pursuant to this contract.

    This wording insures that the "contract month" occurs as soon as the contract is in force for one day of that month.

    But to go back to your original question, there is nothing wrong with "were" in the original sentence. It is just slightly vague.

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    Re: Choice of Tense

    Thanks for your input everyone, that was an interesing and instructive reading

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