Quase sempre no passado, mas nem sempre, como neste caso invocando uma ação claramente destinada ao futuro:
"So whatever the outcome of this year’s election, it’s high time government and businesses work together to efficiently accommodate the UK’s growing need for faster broadband." http://www.channelpro.co.uk/Resource/44 ... mises.html
Uma explicação diferente vem do GrammarLog:
I can't find a rule why it is gramatically correct : "It's high time we send (and not sent) him a registered letter" and "It's about time you spent (and not spend) a little less money."
Thank you for your help.
SOURCE OF QUESTION & DATE OF RESPONSE
Somewhere, Czechoslovakia Sun, Dec 9, 2001
My colleague Professor Farbman explains addresses this question this way:
This is another of those cases of "real" and "unreal" conditionals, which in more rational languages would be regulated by subjunctive standards. The issue is how fully the speaker expects the action to happen. If there's a real intention to send that registered letter now that the reminder has been issued, then the verb is present. If the speaker has some doubt that we'll ever get around to sending the letter after all, then the verb is past:
* "It's high time we send him a registered letter." = a plan to do something, a "real" condition for a future action.
* "It's high time we sent him a registered letter." = a regret that we haven't done something, more focus on the past non-action, and a wishful thought about the future action that may or may not take place—an "unreal" (or unsure) condition for a future action.
As for "It's about time," I can't give a grammatical reason why it never sounds right followed by the present. The explanation must be semantic: "about time" seems to move backward more, drawing in shadows of the time that's been spent already, while "high time" seems more neutral, able to be look both ways depending on the speaker's attitude.
From http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/ ... ogs471.htm