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  1. #1
    gorikaz is offline Member
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    Default Sequence of tenses

    What's the difference between A and B below?

    A) He said that he would call you back later.
    B) He said that he will call you back later.

    I followed the rule of the sequence of tenses in A) and changed "will" to the past tence "would." Is it acceptable and preferred in formal writing? Which is more acceptable in formal writing?

  2. #2
    Mad-ox's Avatar
    Mad-ox is offline Key Member
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    Default Re: Sequence of tenses

    hi,

    The B variant is wrong.

    For the future in the past we use "would".

    madox

  3. #3
    riverkid is offline Banned
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    Default Re: Sequence of tenses

    Quote Originally Posted by gorikaz View Post
    What's the difference between A and B below?
    A) He said that he would call you back later.
    B) He said that he will call you back later.
    I followed the rule of the sequence of tenses in A) and changed "will" to the past tence "would." Is it acceptable and preferred in formal writing? Which is more acceptable in formal writing?
    First, there is no "rule" for the sequence of tenses/concord of tenses. It was another example of poor analysis of language. There are guidelines for backshifting that can occur and often do occur in writing, especially newspapers and voice media.

    As to the sentences, there is no difference in meaning, Gorikaz. This example sounds like it is an example of speech. All B) [using 'would'] is doing is telling the listener that the speaker is reporting the speech, not giving a direct quote.

    The direct speech was probably something like this; "Tell him that I will call him back later."

    ENLs have a choice of using a backshift, to 'would' or we can report with 'will' and often do when the report is still current and meaningful.


    Quote Originally Posted by Mad-ox View Post
    hi,
    The B variant is wrong.
    For the future in the past we use "would".
    madox
    There's nothing wrong with B), Mad-ox. This isn't an example of the future in the past. The only part of,

    "He said that he would call you back later",

    that is past is 'said'. Both 'would' and 'will' point to something that is going to happen, ie. both are future referent.

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