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    #1

    Tense Agreement ?

    Tense Agreement

    I strongly doubt Tense Agreement, because all the following sentences are correct and actually used.

    1, She said she was a teacher of our school.
    2, She
    said she is a teacher of our school.
    3, He
    said the meeting would be on Sunday.
    4, He
    said the meeting will be on Sunday.


    1: If "she said" five years ago, it would be natural to say "she was" because whether she is still a teacher of our school is unknown.
    2: However, if "she said" so only yesterday, I would naturally think "she is" still a teacher of our school even today. In that case, I feel odd if I say "She said she was..".

    3: If he called me two years ago and told "The meeting will be on Sunday," that Sunday meeting should have been finished when I say this.
    So, "at the moment he called me, the meeting WOULD be on Sunday.
    4: However, if he just called me now and said, "The meeting will be on Sunday," and hung up. I would turn to my friend beside me and say, "He said the meeting will be on Sunday."


    School grammar says, "The only exception of Tense Agreement is a universal truth, like "He told me that the sun rises in the east.".
    But if I take Tense Agreement as a rule, I chronically have to meet so many 'exceptions' .
    Instead, if I believe "the tense of a predicate verb is always determined separately only in the reference to the present time," I do not find any exceptions.

    Is Tense Agreement still believed and taught even to English natives?
    (Here, I am talking about only predicative, not including subjunctive or conditional.)

    Thanks in advance.

  1. SlickVic9000's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Tense Agreement ?

    (Not a Teacher)

    With reported speech sentences, I would consider each verb separate as far as tense agreement is concerned.
    You have the time when the statement is given, and the time when the action in the statement occurs.

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    #3

    Re: Tense Agreement ?

    Thanks, SlickVic9000 for your prompt reply.

    Confirmation:
    Do you mean, in short, you deny the Tense Agreement as a rule (like I do)?

    (example) Last year, he told me that he knew my sister.

    Many teachers (in Japan) explains:
    Because "told" is past, "knew" also takes the past form.---Because that's the rule!

    I do not agree with this.
    Better explanation will be:
    "Told" is a past form because it was done in the past.
    Likewise, "knew" takes a past form because it was done in the past too.
    "Knew" does not take a past form to agree with "told".

    If Tense Agreement is a rule, the teacher will have to explain so many exceptions which takes several pages!
    I do not want to call it a rule when it has too many exceptions.

    If the rule is that the tense of a predicate verb is always determined only according to when it was/is/will be done from the present view of point, there will be no exceptions.

    "He told me that the sun travels round the earth".

    This sentence is regarded as an exception of Tense Agreement.
    However, if I follow the tense-is-separately-determined rule, this is no longer an exception.
    "He told" because he did it in the past: "the earth travels" because it did so, does so now, will do so now in the future too ("present habit with a limitless span of time).

    I strongly wonder why so many (Japanese, at least) teachers still stick to the Tense Agreement rule.
    Last edited by KEN JPN; 30-Jun-2012 at 09:34.

  2. SlickVic9000's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: Tense Agreement ?

    (Not a Teacher)

    Yes, but just for reported speech statements. There are certainly other cases where the primary verb doesn't have to agree in tense with the secondary verb, but I don't think they're consistent enough to apply a hard and fast rule to them.

  3. 5jj's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: Tense Agreement ?

    The 'tense agreement' you mention is simply not a rule. It is useful advice, and rarely produces ungrammatical utterances, but ignoring the rule can often produce grammatical utterances.

    Unfortunately, many teachers, including some native speakers, have heard of this so-called 'rule', and consider every utterance in which it is not followed to be incorrect. They are mistaken. I agree with SlickVic: "You have the time when the statement is given, and the time when the action in the statement occurs."

    1. My daughter told me last spring that she was going to Greece in August (last year).
    2. My daughter told me last month that she is going to Greece in August (this year)
    .

    Both these sentences are grammatically correct. 'Was' is obligatory in #1 and possible in #2. 'Is' is not possible in #1, but possible in #2.

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    #6

    Re: Tense Agreement ?

    Thank you SlickVic9000 and 5jj.

    I think I can say I have confirmed that Tense Agreement is not a name of a rule.
    I will keep this thread open in case others might still post voting for Tense Agreement as a rule or for more different opinions.

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