What tense should be appropriate?

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mike:
Based on some grammar books, we should use the corresponding past tense in a clause if the main sentence/clause uses the past tense, for example:
He said that he would come.
But if we are referring to a future time, is it appropriate to use the future tense? For example, if the current time is Wednesday, can we say:
He said on Monday that he will come next Friday.
I found some native speakers use the future tense in the clause, and I was confused.
Can anybody help me clear this up?
Thanks a lot.
Mike
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Robert Lieblich:
[nq:1]Based on some grammar books, we should use the corresponding past tense in a clause if the main sentence/clause uses ... native speakers use the future tense in the clause, and I was confused. Can anybody help me clear this up?[/nq]
Because the event is still in the future (he will come next Friday), you use the future tense. If the event has already occurred, you use the past tense: "He said he would come last Friday." There are a few complications (e.g., things are going badly awry with "may/might"), but this is a useful basic rule.
[nq:1]Thanks a lot.[/nq]
Thanks for not writing "alot."

Bob Lieblich
Still conveniently yours
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perchprism:
[nq:1]Based on some grammar books, we should use the corresponding past tense in a clause if the main sentence/clause uses ... native speakers use the future tense in the clause, and I was confused. Can anybody help me clear this up?[/nq]
Not likely. Apparently English doesn't explain well with rules.

It took me a minute to see your problem; there's nothing wrong with either sentence. You mean to ask whether "He said on Monday that he will come next Friday" is good, when your book seems to say "He said on Monday that he would come next Friday" is right. They are both OK but are a little different.
"Would" makes the sentence a report of his intentions. It's the way you'd ordinarily write it in narrative. "Will" makes "he will come next Friday" an indirect quote, I think. It's the way you might put it in talking to someone when you want to reassure them that he'll be there. (I would expect "he'll" in speech pretty often in preference to "will" or even "would.") "Would" is usual, though, even in this case, and if you never use the "will" form nobody will notice.

Perchprism
(southern New Jersey, near Philadelphia)
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Adrian Bailey:
[nq:1]Based on some grammar books, we should use the corresponding past tense in a clause if the main sentence/clause uses ... example, if the current time is Wednesday, can we say: He said on Monday that he will come next Friday.[/nq]
"He said on Monday that he's going to come next (or "on") Friday" and "He said on Monday that he's coming next (or "on") Friday" are more likely sentences.
Those (basic) EFL texts that insist on the past tense in this construction are wrong. "He said on Monday that he would come next (or "on") Friday" is a correct sentence, of course, and some speakers would use it in place of the sentences I've written above, but it's more likely only to be used either when the Friday in question is already passed, or if there is now some doubt over whether the action will take place.
Adrian
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mike:
Then I think both of the following sentences should be grammatically correct:
1. He said that the color was blue.
2. He said that the color is blue.

Except that the first sentence uses "was" to indicate that the speaker is not sure about the color and the second sentence uses "is" to indicate that the speaker is sure about the color.

Please correct me if I'm wrong.
BTW, can anybody introduce me a good grammar book or online resource for this kind of problem? I'm particularly interested in American English.
Thanks in advance.
Mike
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CyberCypher:
mike wrote on 19 Dec 2004:
[nq:1]Then I think both of the following sentences should be grammatically correct: 1. He said that the color was blue. ... second sentence uses "is" to indicate that the speaker is sure about the color. Please correct me if I'm wrong.[/nq]
Yeah, you're wrong about what these two sentences mean. They're both grammatical and correct and idiomatic, but the choice is stylistic, not semantic: in both cases the speaker is relying on what a third party said about the color of something, and unless that something is a chameleon, chances are the color is a fixed trait and not a variegating one.
[nq:1]BTW, can anybody introduce me a good grammar book or online resource for this kind of problem? I'm particularly interested in American English.[/nq]
Franke: EFL teacher & medical editor
For email, replace numbers with English alphabet.
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Mark Brader:
[nq:1]Then I think both of the following sentences should be grammatically correct: 1. He said that the color was blue. 2. He said that the color is blue.[/nq]
Yes.
[nq:1]Except that the first sentence uses "was" to indicate that the speaker is not sure about the color and the second sentence uses "is" to indicate that the speaker is sure about the color.[/nq]
I think the main implication of "is" is that the speaker doesn't think the color will have changed since "he said" it was blue.

"John lived in this area when I was last here 20 years ago, and I remember asking him about supermarkets then, although I never actually went to one in the end. He said the nearest one was about a mile west of here."
"John lives in this area, so I asked him yesterday about super- markets. He said the nearest one is about a mile west of here."

"John lives in this area, so I asked him yesterday about Christmas trees. He said there were only a few left at the supermarket."

That is, supermarkets might come and go in a 20-year period, but not likely in a day. Christmas trees might sell out in a day, so yesterday's information about them could already be out of date.

In the middle example, "he said" might also be replaced by "he says", implying that if John was asked the same question now, he would give the same answer.

Mark Brader "Nicely self-consistent. (Pay no attention to Toronto that D-floating number behind the curtain!)" (Email Removed) Chris Torek, on pasta

My text in this article is in the public domain.
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Carmen L. Abruzzi:
[nq:1]mike wrote on 19 Dec 2004:[/nq]
[nq:2]Then I think both of the following sentences should be ... sure about the color. Please correct me if I'm wrong.[/nq]
[nq:1]Yeah, you're wrong about what these two sentences mean. They're both grammatical and correct and idiomatic, but the choice is ... and unless that something is a chameleon, chances are the color is a fixed trait and not a variegating one.[/nq]
Wellbut, if the thing which be blue be no longer, then only "was" is correct. Id est, let's say that he said that the car which he was sending to the crusher be blue. Now, now the car does no longer exist, thus one could hardly say "he said it is blue". But one must say rather, "he said it was blue". Otherwise, all true.
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Alan Jones:
[nq:1]Then I think both of the following sentences should be grammatically correct: 1. He said that the color was blue. ... second sentence uses "is" to indicate that the speaker is sure about the color. Please correct me if I'm wrong.[/nq]
Let's assume that what the speaker originally said was "The colour is blue".

If this sentence is a part of a longer passage in *indirect* ("reported") speech, 1. is correct because past should follow past in the "sequence of tenses".
But suppose that this is said within a *direct speech* context: "Did you speak to him yourself? What is the colour?" / "He said that the colour is blue." Here 2. is correct. The context is the present - the conversation with the questioner - and not the past context of the reported statement. You could say instead "The colour is blue. He told me so", and you wouldn't think there was a problem about present "is" and past "told".

So either could be correct in the appropriate grammatical context. (As someone else has told you, your own suggestion, that the tense depends on how sure the speaker is, is not valid.)
Alan Jones
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