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  1. #1
    Snappy is offline Member
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    Sequence of verb tenses

    I have two questions.

    1) "He analyzes/analyzed in his book the impact of industrialization and urbanization on people's lives."

    I think that either "analyzes" or "analyzed" will do in the above sentence. Is my understanding correct?

    2) "I told him three weeks ago that Mr. Tanaka is/was a teacher."

    If Mr. Tanaka was a teacher and he is still a teacher now, is it possible to use either "is" or "was" in the above sentence?

  2. #2
    The French is offline Senior Member
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    Re: Sequence of verb tenses

    Hello Snappy ? I am not a teacher,

    for me in your first sentence you can use the both tense, present and simple past.

    In the second, if you write 'was', I understand that Mr.Tanaka is not a teacher now.

    I am not sure. Wait the teacher's anwers.

    Cordially.

  3. #3
    philo2009 is offline Key Member
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    Re: Sequence of verb tenses

    Quote Originally Posted by Snappy View Post
    I have two questions.

    1) "He analyzes/analyzed in his book the impact of industrialization and urbanization on people's lives."

    I think that either "analyzes" or "analyzed" will do in the above sentence. Is my understanding correct?

    2) "I told him three weeks ago that Mr. Tanaka is/was a teacher."

    If Mr. Tanaka was a teacher and he is still a teacher now, is it possible to use either "is" or "was" in the above sentence?
    1) Both possible, but the present tense is the natural choice for reporting the contents of books, stories of films, etc.

    2) Informally, the present tense is used to convey additional information relating to the present situation, allowing 'is'. Formally, however, tense concord rules require 'was', irrespective of the present situation. (Considering the matter on logical grounds, it is not difficult to see why: what you TOLD him in the (real) past cannot possibly have embraced a (real) present situation that had not yet materialized at the time of speaking - otherwise you would have been making a prediction about the (relative) future rather than a statement about the (relative) present!)

  4. #4
    albeit is offline Banned
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    Re: Sequence of verb tenses

    Quote Originally Posted by philo2009 View Post

    2) "I told him three weeks ago that Mr. Tanaka is/was a teacher."


    2) Informally, the present tense is used to convey additional information relating to the present situation, allowing 'is'. Formally, however, tense concord rules require 'was', irrespective of the present situation.

    (Considering the matter on logical grounds, it is not difficult to see why: what you TOLD him in the (real) past cannot possibly have embraced a (real) present situation that had not yet materialized at the time of speaking - otherwise you would have been making a prediction about the (relative) future rather than a statement about the (relative) present!)
    I don't follow your logic, Philo?

    what you TOLD him in the (real) past cannot possibly have embraced a (real) present situation that had not yet materialized at the time of speaking -

    A: [Three weeks ago] "Mr Tanaka is a teacher."

    Three weeks ago, Mr Tanaka was a teacher, four weeks ago he was a teacher, he has been a teacher for a year. That fact clearly had materialized at the time of speaking which is why the speaker, speaking at that time, said, is a teacher.

    Now that same speaker is relating what he said three weeks ago. He can/could say;

    I told him, "Mr Tanaka is a teacher."

    or

    I told him that Mr Tanaka is a teacher.

    or

    I told him that Mr Tanaka was a teacher.

    You're asking us to believe that people somehow get stupid when the situation turns formal. I think that you can see that's a preposterous notion.

    Once more, the backshifting that occurs in reported speech is done for one reason only, to mark the speech as reported. There are no tense concord rules specific to reported speech. The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language is very clear on this.

    So far all you've offered is a short quote from Philo's notions on English.

    That it's more likely to occur in situations that tend to be more formal, eg. newspapers, just illustrates one thing; the writer wants to be seen as neutral, the writer wants it to be clear to readers that the speech is reported, that it isn't a direct quotation.

    That the speaker can use the exact words that were used three weeks ago illustrates that there's no need to backshift and there's certainly no rule that demands it.
    Last edited by albeit; 18-Oct-2009 at 18:57.

  5. #5
    philo2009 is offline Key Member
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    Re: Sequence of verb tenses

    I don't follow your logic, Philo.
    An inability to follow logic seems to be your chief problem...

    The Cambridge Grammar of the English Language is very clear on this.
    Sadly, the aforementioned tome is very much in error on this, as well as on certain other points (among which one might mention its absurd attempts to reclassify certain subordinating conjunctions as prepositions and the quite ridiculous non-argument that it propounds in favour of the notorious hypercorrectism *between you and I).

    Whether the CGEL deigns to recognize the fact or not - and, frankly, I care little either way - concord of tense, as any educated native speaker of English is aware, is and always has been observed by careful users of the language. Its widespread suspension in informal usage is merely a commonly tolerated deviation, not a benchmark of correctness (a distinction that, no doubt, even you are able to comprehend).

    Anything else that I have to say on this topic has been said, both recently and in full, and I have nothing further to add.

    EOC

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