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    #1

    Should "said" be changed to "saying" in this sentence?

    Dear teachers,

    Yesterday I read a BBC news report on a hacking attack at a railway station in Guangzhou City, China, which says, "Local media carried conflicting accounts on the number of people involved in the attack, with some reporting four attackers, while others said there were two young men, one of whom managed to get away." I think the word of "said", which I underlined, should be changed to "saying" to make it run parallel with "reporting", but I am not sure of this correction and so I need your help and confirmation. By the way, can it be that this journalist was in a hurry writing this report and made this unintentional writing mistake OR that you native speakers of English may simply speak this way (using "said" instead of "saying") in this particular situation ?

    Thanks.

    Richard

    PS: I denounce any form of violence!

  1. BobK's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Should "said" be changed to "saying" in this sentence?

    Not a mistake. It might have been preferable, from the point of view of style, to say 'with some reporting <something> and others saying <something else>', but after a comma and a subordinating conjunction it needs a finite verb (like 'said'). You're right that the journalist was probably in a hurry; maybe s/he was splicing together a number of separate reports. In that case, the form ', <subordinating conjunction> [like 'while', 'because', 'since'...] + <finite verb>' is quite normal.

    b

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    #3

    Re: Should "said" be changed to "saying" in this sentence?

    Quote Originally Posted by BobK View Post
    'with some reporting <something> and others saying <something else>', but after a comma and a subordinating conjunction it needs a finite verb (like 'said'). In that case, the form ', <subordinating conjunction> [like 'while', 'because', 'since'...] + <finite verb>' is quite normal.

    b
    Thanks for your reply, Bob. But frankly, I have never before seen anyone using two totally different structures before and after "while" when it is used to show contrast. Things seem to be a bit complicated in this case, but we often come across sentences like "God speaks a language which all peoples understand, while they do not understand one another " and "Fred gambled his money away while Julia spent all hers on dresses." Besides, by the way, www.dictionary.com says that "while" is a coordinating conjunction when it is used to mean "whereas" and show constrast.

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    #4

    Re: Should "said" be changed to "saying" in this sentence?

    'Naming of parts' was never my strong suit! Coordinating is right.

    This may be a case of anacoluthon, or what David Crystal calls 'blends'. The mind takes advantage of the comma to 'switch tracks' onto another grammatical structure. It's very common...

    b

    PS ...and becoming more common as fewer and fewer people learn from prescriptive grammars.
    Last edited by BobK; 09-May-2014 at 10:18. Reason: Added PS

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    #5

    Re: Should "said" be changed to "saying" in this sentence?

    Quote Originally Posted by BobK View Post
    to 'switch tracks' onto another grammatical structure. It's very common...

    b

    PS ...and becoming more common as fewer and fewer people learn from prescriptive grammars.
    Yeah, I think this BBC journalist, coming to the part of the sentence of "while others", might have forgotten that s/he must be consistent in using the "with" structure and switched back onto another structure as you said, which basically does not create any barrier to the reader's understanding of his or her sentence.

    Anyway, please tell me, Can we, abiding by the prescriptive grammar in this case, say "with some reporting four attackers, while others saying there were two young men, one of whom managed to get away" ? Or rather, if you had been the journalist, which version would you have chosen, "with some reporting four attackers, while others saying..." or "with some reporting four attackers, while others said..."? Thanks!

    By the way, I have noticed such a phenomenon as "switching back" quite a few times.
    Last edited by ohmyrichard; 09-May-2014 at 19:53.

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    #6

    Re: Should "said" be changed to "saying" in this sentence?

    Quote Originally Posted by ohmyrichard View Post
    ...
    Anyway, please tell me, Can we, abiding by the prescriptive grammar in this case, say "with some reporting four attackers, while others saying there were two young men, one of whom managed to get away" ? Or rather, if you had been the journalist, which version would you have chosen, "with some reporting four attackers, while others saying..." or "with some reporting four attackers, while others said..."? Thanks!

    ...
    But you could say '...with some reporting four attackers and others saying...'; (if you look at it pared down like that, the balance is fairly obvious:
    'with some <verb>-ing... and others <verb>-ing...'; to answer your question, I'd have used that sort of structure. But if you use 'while' you need a finite verb (simple past, probably).

    b

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