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  1. Nightmare85's Avatar
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    #1

    Impersonal use - past tense?

    Hello guys,
    I want to know if we should use the past tense for the impersonal sentence.
    I say water is important.
    You say water is important.
    He/she/it says water is important.
    It is said water is important. -> Impersonal sentence

    You can't say, "It is says...", so it must be "said", and I don't know if it's "more correct" to use "was" instead of "is".

    Cheers!

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    #2

    Re: Impersonal use - past tense?

    Quote Originally Posted by Nightmare85 View Post
    Hello guys,
    I want to know if we should use the past tense for the impersonal sentence.
    I say water is important.
    You say water is important.
    He/she/it says water is important.
    It is said water is important.

    You can't say, "It is says...", so it must be "said", and I don't know if it's "more correct" to use "was" instead of "is".
    No! Why would you want to say 'It is said water was important.'? Forget about matching tenses; pay attention to the meaning of what you say.
    Cheers!
    2006

  2. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: Impersonal use - past tense?

    Remember that "it is said" is the present passive, not past.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

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    #4

    Re: Impersonal use - past tense?

    Quote Originally Posted by Barb_D View Post
    Remember that "it is said" is the present passive, not past.
    That's a good point; thanks for raising it. I just focussed on the single word "said".
    But even in an active sentence with "said", I would say '......said water is important.'

    We all said water is important.

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    #5

    Exclamation Re: Impersonal use - past tense?

    Quote Originally Posted by Nightmare85 View Post
    Hello guys,
    I want to know if we should use the past tense for the impersonal sentence.
    I say water is important.
    You say water is important.
    He/she/it says water is important.
    It is said water is important. -> Impersonal sentence

    You can't say, "It is says...", so it must be "said", and I don't know if it's "more correct" to use "was" instead of "is".

    Cheers!
    In the particular instance, use of past tense is not necessary. But with reference your question that whether past tense can be used with impersonal sentence, the answer is positive. See the following examples.
    This is a book on Adolf Hitler where it is said that he was in love with Eva Braun whom he married during the Battle of Berlin in 1945.
    Or
    It is said he kept a warm memory of this love
    Last edited by sarat_106; 03-Aug-2010 at 10:32.

  3. Nightmare85's Avatar
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    #6

    Re: Impersonal use - past tense?

    Quote Originally Posted by 2006 View Post
    But even in an active sentence with "said", I would say '......said water is important.'

    We all said water is important.
    I think some members might disagree here.
    You said you were a teacher.
    If the person is not a teacher anymore, the sentence could be:
    You said you were a teacher once.
    I think there is no need to say:
    You said you are a teacher.

    So I would go for:
    We all said water was important. (It's not past!)

    Cheers!

  4. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: Impersonal use - past tense?

    We're mixing the issue of reported speech and passive.

    It is said that... is a passive construction. You can use a present or a past statement, depending on whether it is still true, the person is still living, etc.

    It is said that Elizabeth Taylor had the most captivating face in Hollywood.
    It is said that water is our most precious resource.

    With reported speech, it's common, but not obligatory to back shift the tense.

    They said, "Water is our most precious resource."
    They said that water was our most precious resource. Okay with back shift
    They said that water is our most precious resource. Okay because it is still true.

    I have no problem talking to someone I just met and repeating "You said you are a teacher? What do you teach?" It's obviously still true.
    I also have no problem with "You said you were a teacher?" because the back shift is common in reported speech.
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

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    #8

    Re: Impersonal use - past tense?

    Quote Originally Posted by Nightmare85 View Post
    I think some members might disagree here.
    You said you were a teacher.
    If the person is not a teacher anymore, the sentence could be:
    You said you were a teacher once. If that's what they say, there would be no confusion.
    I think there is no need to say:
    You said you are a teacher. There is a need if the person still is a teacher and you want to avoid confusion!

    So I would go for: Go for it if you like writing/speaking illogical and ambiguous English.
    We all said water was important. (It's not past!) What's not past? Logically that sentence refers to a past situation with water. I don't know why you want to defend a a very bad habit of mindless and confusing backshifting. But this all has been discussed and argued before, and I'm not interested in doing it all over again.

    Cheers!
    2006

  5. Nightmare85's Avatar
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    #9

    Re: Impersonal use - past tense?

    @2006:
    In order to avoid confusion, you can also use other ways than breaking (more or less) grammar rules.
    Why not, "You say you are a teacher."?
    If you want to stick to the said, you should not insist on are.

    It's not illogical and ambiguous in my opinion since I exactly wrote how to avoid confusion.
    Adding some Simple Past elements (like once) eliminates confusion.

    Yes, it was discussed before and the conclusion was it's never wrong to backshift.
    Sometimes it can be used the way you did, but I want to write as correctly as possible.

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    #10

    Re: Impersonal use - past tense?

    Quote Originally Posted by Nightmare85 View Post
    @2006:
    In order to avoid confusion, you can also use other ways than breaking (more or less) grammar rules.
    Why not, "You say you are a teacher."?
    If you want to stick to the said, you should not insist on are.

    It's not illogical and ambiguous in my opinion since I exactly wrote how to avoid confusion.
    Adding some Simple Past elements (like once) eliminates confusion.

    Yes, it was discussed before and the conclusion was it's never wrong to backshift. Nonsense, even people who argued in favor of backshifting admitted it can be ambiguous.
    Sometimes it can be used the way you did, but I want to write as correctly as possible.
    I don't agree with you and I have nothing more to say to you!!

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