Warning: I have no background in linguistics, I just had a question that I thought of today.
I wrote this to someone: "I think old women from the 60's put their cigarettes in it."
And I was thinking about the sentence more and I was confused on a few things.
I'm saying that old women from the 60's used to put their cigarettes in it.
But it's not that they used to put their cigarettes in it and now they don't, it's just that they're dead. but from the structure of the sentence alone, what if someone couldn't infer that if they were old in the 60's they'd likely be dead now? So then they're left imagining that some ancient woman is choosing to not put the cigarettes in it.
When I actually say this out loud, the different kinds of emphasis on the word "put" is what makes me be able to figure out what tense I'm speaking about. Is this just me imagining something or is there some linguistic basis for it. Is it just a matter of incorrect grammar?
I could say "I think old women from the 60's used to put their cigarettes in it when they were alive" or something like that to clarify it but I just wanted to know if I had a valid question on not.