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    #1

    tense concordance?

    I have encountered the following two sentences that are allegedly from an English grammar book:

    He said that when they were living in Paris they often saw Paul. ... (1)
    He said that when they lived in Paris they had often seen Paul. ... (2)

    Would
    He said, "When they are living in Paris they often see Paul." ... (2')
    and
    He said, "When they live in Paris they often saw Paul." ... (2')
    make appropriate paraphrases for sentences (1) and (2), respectively?

    Sentences (1') and (2') don't quite make sense to me, and thus I can't make out the original sentences (1) and (2), either.

    Thank you for your help.

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    #2

    Re: tense concordance?

    Welcome to the forum, sora.

    Sentences 1 and 2 are fine.

    You can't call your own sentences paraphrases as you have changed the tense from past to present.

    I'm not sure what you are asking.

    Rover

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    #3

    Re: tense concordance?

    Thank you very much for your comment, Rover.
    I'm sorry I wasn't able to make myself clear in my original post.

    What I wanted to know was the temporal relationship among the events or situations expressed by the three verbs(VP's) in each of the sentences.

    We learned at school that a backshift in the verb tense occurs when rewriting what is said in direct speech, using indirect or reported speech, so
    He said, "I'm living in London." ... (3)
    and
    He said that he was living in London. ... (3')
    are equivalent in meaning.

    If so, in sentence (1)(He said that when they were living in Paris they often saw Paul.), his actual utterance could have been "When they are living in Paris they often see Paul.", could it not?

    Thank you in advance.

  1. 5jj's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: tense concordance?

    Quote Originally Posted by sora1999 View Post
    We learned at school that a backshift in the verb tense occurs when rewriting what is said in direct speech, using indirect or reported speech,
    Backshifting can, but does not have to, happen if the event reported is still true at the time of reporting.
    He said, "I'm living in London." ... (3)...and...He said that he was living in London. ... (3')
    are equivalent in meaning.
    I am not very happy about 'equivalent in meaning' especially as 'his' words can also be reported as, 'He said that he is living in London'.

    If so, in sentence (1)(He said that when they were living in Paris they often saw Paul.), his actual utterance could have been "When they are living in Paris they often see Paul.", could it not?
    It could. It could also have been, "When we are living in Paris, we often see Paul', and'When we/they were living in Paris we/they often saw Paul'..
    5

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    #5

    Re: tense concordance?

    Thank you so much, 5!
    I've been taught that the only case backshifting is unnecessary is in the PAST-PRES pattern where the subordinate clause with a present verb(VP) expresses some kind of universal truth. Your answer just cleared up my perplexity.
    Thanks again.
    sora

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