I you are using quotation marks, the text between the quotation marks must be exactly as it was originally written. It doesn't matter if the author is dead or alive.
Teaching ESL to Adults
In wrting a thesis, I have found that it is difficult for me to decide whether the tense used in a quotation should be in the past or in the present. Take the following examples, if I want to quote an author's writing from his books or propositions from an authoritative source, what tense should I used when the author is already dead, or the books/propositions are published/made long long ago?
(1)In his article/book, ABC said/commented/suggested, ".......(the quotation is in the present tense - Need I change it into the past tense?)........"
(2)In his article/book, ABC says/comments/suggests, ".......(the quotation is in the present tense, Need I keep the tense as it is?)........"
Thanks for the advice.
No - you write in the tense you need/want, but as Debra says, the quotation must not be changed.
I've never heard of a rule for which tense to use. I think it is as Anglika says, use what you need.
If you are trying to be consistent, though, I think I would use the past tense. Since everything you are quoting was written sometime in the past (even if it was just yesterday), it was said/suggested/commented/etc.
And even if you are trying to be consistent, there still may be some times when it makes more sense to use the simple present.
But this isn't a firm rule, just my logic.
Teaching ESL to Adults
Thank you for your advice, mates.
In a handbook for advanced students of English, it is told that "the present tense is used in the introductory verbs of quotations, as with other comments on literature. But you would probably use the past tense if you were quoting statesman or other historical figure, for example,
As Napoleon said, or is reputed to have said..."
My question is : Is it that if the author of quotations has been dead, we should use the past tense; otherwise, we should use the present tense in the introductory verbs?
The handbook also says that:
"However, either present or past may be used in the case of political ideas expressed in writing, for example, As Marx says/said, ...."
My next question is : Why is it that either the present or past can be used here?
In the following link, it is also said that the present tense should be used in the introductory verbs of quotations:
My final question is : Then, under what situations that the past tense should be used?
Thanks for helping.
Last edited by albertino; 19-Jun-2007 at 10:24.
If you are quoting from a person's published works, you can say either "[As] Marx says in ...." or "[As] Marx said in .....".
If you are quoting from a reported speech by that person, whether a public speech or private conversation, then "Marx said ...." would be more usual.