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  1. #1
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    Default Not sure if were or are is the correct grammar in this case

    Hi Teacher,

    I am planning a field trip for this coming weekend and I want to invite a friend named John. Please tell me which of the sentenses below has the correct grammar:

    1. Hi John, Carl told me yesterday that you "are" available this coming weekend...

    2. Hi John, Carl told me yesterday that you "were" available this coming weekend...

    Since this coming weekend is in the future, should I use present tense "are" or past tense "were" in the sentense ?

    Thanks in advanced !

    Chibe

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Not sure if were or are is the correct grammar in this case

    Quote Originally Posted by chibe_k View Post
    Hi Teacher,

    I am planning a field trip for this coming weekend and I want to invite a friend named John. Please tell me which of the sentenses below has the correct grammar:

    1. Hi John, Carl told me yesterday that you "are" available this coming weekend...

    2. Hi John, Carl told me yesterday that you "were" available this coming weekend...

    Since this coming weekend is in the future, should I use present tense "are" or past tense "were" in the sentense ?

    Thanks in advanced !

    Chibe
    #1 is correct.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Not sure if were or are is the correct grammar in this case

    Can someone explain why #1 is correct ? Are we supposed to keep the sentense consistent ?I mean its either all past tense or all present tense.

    Also, would it make a difference if I write to a third party instead, eg:
    1. Dear Mary, I ran into Carl yesterday and he said John is available this coming Saturday ...

    2. Dear Mary, I ran into Carl yesterday and he said John was available this coming Saturday ...

    Any help would be appreciated.

    Thanks!

    chibe

  4. #4
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: Not sure if were or are is the correct grammar in this case

    They could both be used, but the past here, when reporting to the person, could be used when you're not sure whether this is still the case. When reporting speech, there is more flexibility than some grammar books suggest; when reporting facts or statement we are sure are still true, we often don't change, so the first does sound more natural. With the 'dear Mary' examples, I would again choose my tenses according to my degree of certainty.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Not sure if were or are is the correct grammar in this case

    Thanks so much. Nobody told me before that degree of certainty could affect the choices of tense. This is helpful !

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Not sure if were or are is the correct grammar in this case

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    They could both be used, but the past here, when reporting to the person, could be used when you're not sure whether this is still the case. When reporting speech, there is more flexibility than some grammar books suggest; when reporting facts or statement we are sure are still true, we often don't change, so the first does sound more natural. With the 'dear Mary' examples, I would again choose my tenses according to my degree of certainty.
    "Gov. O'Bannon said he will ask lawmakers for $20 million to help police fight drugs and violent crime." means that he will definitely ask lawmakers for the money, but if we replace will with would, it means that his mind isn't made up.

    Is it correct?
    Last edited by retro; 28-Apr-2007 at 00:50.

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    Default Re: Not sure if were or are is the correct grammar in this case

    Quote Originally Posted by Tdol View Post
    They could both be used, but the past here, when reporting to the person, could be used when you're not sure whether this is still the case. When reporting speech, there is more flexibility than some grammar books suggest; when reporting facts or statement we are sure are still true, we often don't change, so the first does sound more natural. With the 'dear Mary' examples, I would again choose my tenses according to my degree of certainty.

    I second this!

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    Default Re: Not sure if were or are is the correct grammar in this case

    Additionally,

    *Exceptions:
    • If the reported sentence deals with a fact or general truth, the present tense is (can be) retained. She said that the moon causes the tides.
    • If the speaker reports something immediately or soon after it was said, the noun clause verb often remains as spoken.
      A: What did the conductor say?
      B: He said that the next stop is Northgate.
    • If will is the modal in the reported utterance and expresses future time, and if the situation described in the quote still holds true at the time of the indirect report, the will may not be changed to would even though the reporting verb is in the past tense:
      Mr. Arden said that a volcanic eruption will occur next year.
    All the best.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Not sure if were or are is the correct grammar in this case

    Quote Originally Posted by retro View Post
    "Gov. O'Bannon said he will ask lawmakers for $20 million to help police fight drugs and violent crime." means that he will definitely ask lawmakers for the money, but if we replace will with would, it means that his mind isn't made up.

    Is it correct?
    It could. The use of 'will' means that it's definite, but 'would' could mean both. Not changing adds clarity about the degree of certainty, but doesn't mean that 'would' is always uncertain.

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