Results 1 to 3 of 3
  1. #1
    mattthehoople is offline Newbie
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Student or Learner
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • UK
    Join Date
    Jun 2012
    Posts
    1
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Mixing "say" and "said" in past tense dialogue

    Hi,

    I'm wondering how acceptable it is to mix "said" and "say" in reported speech. This would be in a novel, and change on a chapter by chapter basis.

    In some chapters, where the narrator is describing a past event in upbeat terms, "I say" would be used. As an example...

    "It's none of your business," he says.
    So I say, "Fine by me," and I just turned and walked away.

    In other chapters "said" would be used. Everything is in the past tense, but I've been lead to believe there's such a thing as "historical present" that makes this okay. In addition, the narrator is a teenager from the north of england, where using "I say" or even "I says" when describing past events is quite normal.

    Is this okay? Every time I read it back I think it looks a little wrong, but I like the feeling of drama and pace that it brings.

    Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
    Rover_KE is offline Moderator
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Retired English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • England
      • Current Location:
      • England
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Posts
    13,996
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Mixing "say" and "said" in past tense dialogue

    Welcome to the forum, mattthehoople.

    Your last 11 words—'I like the feeling of drama and pace that it brings'
    is all the justification the author needs for switching tenses.

    That's exactly the effect he was aiming for.

    Rover

  3. #3
    a_vee's Avatar
    a_vee is offline Junior Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • Costa Rica
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Posts
    92
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Mixing "say" and "said" in past tense dialogue

    Yes! It is acceptable to use the Present Simple to talk about the past when you want to create drama. It's cool that you're thinking about that.

Similar Threads

  1. Replies: 1
    Last Post: 06-Jun-2012, 17:55
  2. [Grammar] Use of "the", "cater for" and past tense
    By patran in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 21-Mar-2012, 20:25
  3. Replies: 1
    Last Post: 19-Jan-2011, 15:28
  4. Replies: 2
    Last Post: 08-Sep-2008, 08:27
  5. confusing words "expressed" or "express" and "named" or"names"
    By Dawood Usmani in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 26-Oct-2007, 19:33

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
Hotchalk