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  1. #1
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    Exclamation Confused, you soon will be

    I am a little bit confused re this sentence

    "She said she was from Japan."

    My initial thought was that is was in the past perfect.

    But on further reflection i.e how can one no longer be from a place it could also be in the past continuous, or even the present continuous.

    Which is right and why

    Thanx Lloyd


  2. #2
    MrPedantic is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: Confused, you soon will be

    Hello SO66

    1. She said she was from Japan.

    This is an example of reported speech. In reported speech, the tense of the original statement is moved back one stage ("backshifting"). So here, the original would have been:

    2. "I am from Japan."

    The "I am" is the simple present tense. To report it, we first change the person ("I am" → "she is"), and then "backshift" the verb to the simple past tense ("she is" → "she was").

    This use of the past tense reflects not the content of the statement (her origin), but the time of speaking.

    Does it make any more sense now?

    All the best,

    MrP

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Confused, you soon will be

    It's the simple past: there is only one verb, and it's in the past tense form (no participles to be seen anywhere).

    This is an example of reported speech. It's reported because we are not quoting her exact words. If we did quote her exact words, it would look like this:

    She said, "I am from Japan."

    When we convert (or, to use the technical term, when we transform) direct speech to indirect speech, obviously we have to change "I" to "she". But we also change the tense from the simple present to the simple past. It indicates that this is something she said at some time in the past; if you asked her the same question now, though, it is possible she will say something different (maybe she was lying, or has changed her nationality, for example).

    If we take this sentence:

    She says she is from Japan.

    That's in the present tense. What we are suggesting here is that if you ask her now, she will tell you that she is from Japan; she said so before and we are confident that this is still her opinion.

    Compare:

    The government spokesman says unemployment is falling. (If you ask him what the unemployment figures are doing, he will tell you they are falling.)

    The government spokesman said unemployment was falling. (If you had asked him in the past, that's what he would have said. But if you ask him now, he might give you a different answer.)

  4. #4
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    Lightbulb Re: Confused, you soon will be

    Thanks for that

    So just to be sure I am grasping the concept if the sentence " She said she was from Japan" is in the present simple tense then this sentence

    "Hollywood star marries for the sixth time"

    Referring as it does to a newspaper headline it would also be in the present simple tense as would the following sentences which are also newspaper headlines.

    "Two hundred die in plane crash."
    "Major unveils new policies."

    Thanx Lloyd

  5. #5
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    BobK is offline Harmless drudge
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    Default Re: Confused, you soon will be

    Quote Originally Posted by MrPedantic View Post
    Hello SO66
    1. She said she was from Japan.
    This is an example of reported speech. In reported speech, the tense of the original statement is moved back one stage ("backshifting")....
    Are there any exceptions? I thought not until my CELTA course, when my tutor said 'He said he can drive' was acceptable, since the subject was talking about an ongoing state that remained true in the present (i.e. when the speech was being reported). I see his point, but the sentence still sounds wrong to me.

    b

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    Default Re: Confused, you soon will be

    Quote Originally Posted by SPACEDOUT66 View Post
    So just to be sure I am grasping the concept if the sentence " She said she was from Japan" is in the present simple tense then this sentence

    "Hollywood star marries for the sixth time"

    Referring as it does to a newspaper headline it would also be in the present simple tense as would the following sentences which are also newspaper headlines.

    "Two hundred die in plane crash."
    "Major unveils new policies."
    Newspaper headlines are often written in the present simple for reasons of space (headlines have to be very short) and also to give a sense of immediacy to the headline -- after all, newspapers are in the business of telling you the news and being up-to-date. "Hollywood star married..." would mean that at some time in the past, a Hollywood star married for the sixth time -- which is a bit lame. Written in a present tense it means: "Hey, look! -- this is new; you've not seen this bit of news before, have you?"

  7. #7
    MrPedantic is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: Confused, you soon will be

    Quote Originally Posted by SPACEDOUT66 View Post
    Thanks for that

    So just to be sure I am grasping the concept if the sentence " She said she was from Japan" is in the present simple tense then this sentence

    "Hollywood star marries for the sixth time"

    Referring as it does to a newspaper headline it would also be in the present simple tense as would the following sentences which are also newspaper headlines.

    "Two hundred die in plane crash."
    "Major unveils new policies."

    Thanx Lloyd
    Hello Spaced

    Yes, those three examples use the simple present tense; but "She said she was from Japan" uses two simple past tenses. However, the original ("I am from Japan") would have been in the simple present.

    See you,

    MrP

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    MrPedantic is offline Moderator
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    Default Re: Confused, you soon will be

    Quote Originally Posted by BobK View Post
    Are there any exceptions? I thought not until my CELTA course, when my tutor said 'He said he can drive' was acceptable, since the subject was talking about an ongoing state that remained true in the present (i.e. when the speech was being reported). I see his point, but the sentence still sounds wrong to me.
    b
    Hello Bob

    I myself tend to use the past tense in reported speech for states that are true at the time of speaking, or for general truths. But I think grammarians accept both forms, e.g.

    1. My teacher told me that the earth orbited the sun.
    2. My teacher told me that the earth orbits the sun.

    (I suspect that general usage favours the latter.)

    MrP

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