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  1. #1
    hanky is offline Key Member
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    Default speaks or spoke?

    There was a call from a guy who speaks/spoke German.

    Should I use speaks or spoke in the above sentence?
    Thanks.

  2. #2
    emsr2d2's Avatar
    emsr2d2 is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: speaks or spoke?

    Quote Originally Posted by hanky View Post
    There was a call from a guy who speaks/spoke German.

    Should I use speaks or spoke in the above sentence?
    Thanks.
    I would say it depends on whether you are simply trying to explain what language the man was speaking when you talked to him on the phone, or his general abilities.

    If you say "There was a call from a guy who speaks German", then you are not actually specifying what language he spoke on the phone. He may have spoken English and simply mentioned during the conversation that he is also capable of speaking German, or even that his native language is German.
    It's the equivalent of "There was a call from a guy who can speak German".

    If you say "There was a call from a guy who spoke German", then I would take that to mean that was the language he used on the telephone. It doesn't mean he's a native speaker, necessarily, but that's not relevant.
    It's the equivalent of "There was a call from a guy who spoke German to me during the call".

  3. #3
    The French is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: speaks or spoke?

    Quote Originally Posted by hanky View Post
    There was a call from a guy who speaks/spoke German.

    Should I use speaks or spoke in the above sentence?
    Thanks.
    Hello, I am not a teacher,

    but spoke is the best because in my mind you are talking about something that happened in the past.

    Bye.

  4. #4
    hanky is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: speaks or spoke?

    Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post
    I would say it depends on whether you are simply trying to explain what language the man was speaking when you talked to him on the phone, or his general abilities.

    If you say "There was a call from a guy who speaks German", then you are not actually specifying what language he spoke on the phone. He may have spoken English and simply mentioned during the conversation that he is also capable of speaking German, or even that his native language is German.
    It's the equivalent of "There was a call from a guy who can speak German".

    If you say "There was a call from a guy who spoke German", then I would take that to mean that was the language he used on the telephone. It doesn't mean he's a native speaker, necessarily, but that's not relevant.
    It's the equivalent of "There was a call from a guy who spoke German to me during the call".
    Hi emsr2d2, thank you very much for the transparent explanation. (I mean your explanation is easily understood, am I using "transparent correctly?")

    I was trying to express the language that the guy used during the time we talked on the phone. So I have to choose "spoke".

  5. #5
    hanky is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: speaks or spoke?

    Quote Originally Posted by The French View Post
    [FONT=Georgia][COLOR=Navy]Hello, I am not a teacher,

    but spoke is the best because in my mind you are talking about something that happened in the past.
    Hi,
    according emsr2d2's post, we can use "speaks" to express the ability of the guy (speaking German). (that's a fact so we use present tense in this case).

  6. #6
    emsr2d2's Avatar
    emsr2d2 is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: speaks or spoke?

    Quote Originally Posted by hanky View Post
    Hi emsr2d2, thank you very much for the transparent explanation. (I mean your explanation is easily understood, am I using "transparent correctly?")

    I was trying to express the language that the guy used during the time we talked on the phone. So I have to choose "spoke".
    Yes, if you want to specifically explain what language was used on the phone, then use "spoke" here.

    "Transparent" - I understood what you meant, but "clear" would have been better!

  7. #7
    hanky is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: speaks or spoke?

    Quote Originally Posted by emsr2d2 View Post
    Yes, if you want to specifically explain what language was used on the phone, then use "spoke" here.

    "Transparent" - I understood what you meant, but "clear" would have been better!
    I got it. Thanks so much emsr2d2.
    Have a nice day.

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