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Thread: past tense

  1. #1
    Jesse Huang Guest

    past tense

    (1) He said he will come. (right?)

    (2) He said he would come.

    What's the difference between them? :?

  2. #2
    shane is offline Senior Member
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    On the surface of it, I'd say the first one implies that he hasn't yet come, but he will, whereas the second implies that he said he was going to come, but he didn't.

    I'm sure others will add their opinions soon. ;)

  3. #3
    RonBee's Avatar
    RonBee is offline Moderator
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    My opinion is that Shane is right.

    :wink:

  4. #4
    shane is offline Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by RonBee
    My opinion is that Shane is right.

    :wink:
    *Pats self on the back* ;)

  5. #5
    MikeNewYork's Avatar
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    Re: past tense

    Quote Originally Posted by Jesse Huang
    (1) He said he will come. (right?)

    (2) He said he would come.

    What's the difference between them? :?
    They can both mean the very same thing. This brings us to "reported speech". In most cases, when one reports what another has said, one backshifts the entire sentence to past tense. An exception would be "early" reported speech, when the report comes soon after the original statement.

    Let's say that Mary invites John to a party and John says "Yes, I will come." If Mary turns to Sally and reports, she may say "John says/said that he will come. Several hours later, "John says he will come" no longer works very well. At that point, Mary would say "John said that he will/would come." After more time elapses, perhaps the following day, it would be more likely to say "John said that he would come." "Would" here is being used as the past tense of "will", not as a sign of a conditional. There are many variations of this area of English.

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