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  1. #1
    nelson13 is offline Member
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    Default I am/was talking to myself.

    Today in a lecture, the professor A, when talking, sensed that B was murmuring something.

    Then A asked B what B was talking about.

    B said,'I'm talking to myself.' And the whole class laughed.

    In my opinion, that sentence was wrong, because obviously B wanted to say IN THE PAST he WAS murmuring, so I think he should have said 'I was talking to myself.'

    But to be honest, I, or anyone in the world, can't say B was wrong in this lecture: B is a research professor in the English Department and, not only is he a native English speaker, but he also graduated from Oxford, the English Department with a PhD.

    Can anyone tell me why he didn't say 'I was talking to myself'?

  2. #2
    SoothingDave is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: I am/was talking to myself.

    He was interrupted while in the process of talking to himself, so the present tense is also valid.

  3. #3
    Raymott's Avatar
    Raymott is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: I am/was talking to myself.

    Quote Originally Posted by nelson13 View Post
    Today in a lecture, the professor A, when talking, sensed that B was murmuring something.

    Then A asked B what B was talking about.

    B said,'I'm talking to myself.' And the whole class laughed.

    In my opinion, that sentence was wrong, because obviously B wanted to say IN THE PAST he WAS murmuring, so I think he should have said 'I was talking to myself.'

    But to be honest, I, or anyone in the world, can't say B was wrong in this lecture: B is a research professor in the English Department and, not only is he a native English speaker, but he also graduated from Oxford, the English Department with a PhD.

    Can anyone tell me why he didn't say 'I was talking to myself'?
    At the time he was saying "I'm talking to myself" he was talking to the Professor. So he meant "I was talking to myself".
    Being an English Professor doesn't make one immune from making insignificant slips like this. I'd be prepared to call him wrong if he was silly enough to insist that while he was answering the Professor, he was still talking to himself.

  4. #4
    nelson13 is offline Member
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    Default Re: I am/was talking to myself.

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    At the time he was saying "I'm talking to myself" he was talking to the Professor. So he meant "I was talking to myself".
    Being an English Professor doesn't make one immune from making insignificant slips like this. I'd be prepared to call him wrong if he was silly enough to insist that while he was answering the Professor, he was still talking to himself.
    I relish seeing native English speakers refuting the English of another native English speaker, because I can learn a lot.

    In fact, before asking this question, I had thought it over for more than an hour in my mind: it could be grammatical, because in English, when something has just happened and though such a thing is PAST, we can still use the present tense, just as when someone tells you something and you immediately turn it into reported speech, you can say: he tells me that...

    and it is absolutely correct English. But I am not sure whether this rule applies to the case I mentioned above.

  5. #5
    5jj's Avatar
    5jj is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: I am/was talking to myself.

    Quote Originally Posted by nelson13 View Post
    I relish seeing native English speakers refuting the English of another native English speaker, because I can learn a lot.
    If you re-read the thread, you will see that nobody has refuted anything.

  6. #6
    nelson13 is offline Member
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    Default Re: I am/was talking to myself.

    Quote Originally Posted by 5jj View Post
    If you re-read the thread, you will see that nobody has refuted anything.
    Thank you for your suggestion.

    But didn't I say RELISH? Of course, it can be used to talk about my opinion of this thread, but can't the present tense be used to talk about my general feeling of doing such a thing?

  7. #7
    emsr2d2's Avatar
    emsr2d2 is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: I am/was talking to myself.

    For what it's worth, it would make no difference to me whether he said "I'm talking to myself" or "I was talking to myself"
    Remember - correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing make posts much easier to read.

  8. #8
    5jj's Avatar
    5jj is offline VIP Member
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    Default Re: I am/was talking to myself.

    Quote Originally Posted by nelson13 View Post
    But didn't I say RELISH? Of course, it can be used to talk about my opinion of this thread, but can't the present tense be used to talk about my general feeling of doing such a thing?
    nelson, please read carefully what people have written before coming up with a question that has nothing to do with the topic we are discussing.

  9. #9
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: I am/was talking to myself.

    Quote Originally Posted by nelson13 View Post
    Can anyone tell me why he didn't say 'I was talking to myself'?
    Do you speak your first language with 100% accuracy at all times? People often make mistakes in speech. In this case, the past makes more sense, but I don't see much wrong with present. In fact, if the person planned to carry on muttering, then the present might be the better choice.

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