R.Would the use of are, in stead of were, in the quoted sentence be corrent? There are several thoughts in my mind and I don't know which one is correct.
No. Only "were" is right.
Were and are can both be used here.
As I've seem many times before, the acid test as to the choice of the two tenses is whether the state or action still continues at the moment.
Perhaps. The action is this case, the verb, is "recognize". Even though they still believe it, they are not still recognizing it. The recognition occurred in the past.
Since they already were the first people to do so, [exactly; not "are"] it can be very convinently deducted that that's still the case for the time being, unless newly emerged evidence proves it wrong. In other words, the sentence can be rewritten as following:
The Swede were considered as the first ... No, you've changed the verb. This is different proposition. People still consider that the Swedes were the first to recognise it.
The Swede are considered as the first ...
They show different aspects of the same thing and both work in this case.
Sure, but they introduce a new statement - about what people consider/ed, not about what Swedes first recognised.
Only were is grammatical here. Here The Swedes astually refers to those who made the very first effort in the world to step forward and recognize the fact, but not the people who have the citizenship of Sweden. We are talking about dead people here and obviously only past tenses are possible, for they can't go back to life and do it again.
You seem to realise here that the recognition ocurred in the past.
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