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Hi there: I learn from a grammar book that a small set of verbs of communication such as "tell", "say" and "hear" can be used in simple present tense even though the act of telling, saying or hearing happened in the past. for example, "Bill tells me you are moving to Sydney". according to the book, Bill's telling me was in fact in past time, but we're more concerned with the content of Bill's telling rather than Bill's act of communication. and thus the simple present form "tells" is not ungrammatical here. But in the subsequent part of the book, when dealing with backshifting in indirect reported speech, i found two examples which seem to contradict to the above cited example.(I must be wrong when I'm saying "contradict") The examples are: if Bill's original statement is "the match starts on 2 June", then 2 ways of indirect report are possible, according to the context. the first is "Bill said the march started on 2 June", and the second is "Bill said the march starts on 2 June" (if the report is before 2 June). My question is: why don't we use "Bill says...." here? since, according to the book, "say" is a verb of communication and the focus of the report seems to be the content of the Bill's statement, too. I'm really confused. Or maybe there are some other considerations which I've ignored. could you please help me. Thank you.
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Hi,

You wrote:

I learn from a grammar book that a small set of verbs of communication such as "tell", "say" and "hear" can be used in simple present tense even though the act of telling, saying or hearing happened in the past. for example, "Bill tells me you are moving to Sydney". according to the book, Bill's telling me was in fact in past time, but we're more concerned with the content of Bill's telling rather than Bill's act of communication. and thus the simple present form "tells" is not ungrammatical here.

I think the book is correct in that most people (or some people) I know from America talk like that: Part of the sentence might be in past time but it is not to be ungrammatical since I think the present focus of the conversation is in the past, present or in the future and that seems to be more important than the other.

eg,

Q Hi, John, I hear you got a raise. -- the hearing occurred in the past and the raise probably, if it is true, happened in the past but only one verb is in the past but I think it is grammatical.

A: Yes, how did you know? I got a raise last month.

As to your reported speech question, I think if something is to be fulfilled or realized in the future, then the tense remains in the future.

What John said yesterday: I will get a raise soon.

Reported speech: John said he will get a raise soon.

Please wait for other responses.
As your grammar book says, these verbs canbe used in simple present. "Bill told me you were (or "are", because it's still presumably true before the move) moving to Sydney" is also possible in the fist example.By the way "contradict" is correct. Emotion: smile