"He said that he would call"

Discussion in 'Ελληνικά (Greek)' started by panettonea, Jul 31, 2013.

  1. panettonea Senior Member

    English--US
    Can the sentences below all express the meaning of the sentence above? And of the valid ones, which would be the most common in conversation? Also, are there any other possibilities in terms of the tense used?

    Είπε ότι θα τηλεφωνούσε.
    Είπε ότι θα τηλεφωνήσει.
    Είπε ότι θα τηλεφώνησε.
     
  2. Perseas Senior Member

    Athens - GR
    Greek
    3. does not exist. In 2. there is more certainty that he will call than in 1.
     
  3. Mariana94

    Mariana94 Junior Member

    Athens
    Greek
    Είπε ότι θα τηλεφωνούσε: He (had) said he was going to call.
    Είπε ότι θα τηλεφωνήσει: He said he's going to call.

    None of them can be more or less common in a conversation. They're both equally acceptable, their main difference being in the past (Παρατατικός) tensed used in the first and the future used in the second one.
    In the first sentence he/she made a promise that they were going to call in the past. In English a somehow identical syntax would involve past perfect in combination with past simple/continuous verb form. This would also be grammatically correct in Greek, although in colloquial language we tend not to mind such things.
    In the second, on the other hand, he/she promised in the past that they will call in the short/long run (depending on the context).
    As for the third, I agree with Perseas. It doesn't even exist...
     
  4. sotos Senior Member

    Greek
    To be more practical, the 1st sentence means more of "He said that ... (but he didn't yet)" and the 2nd more of "He said that ... (and is still expected to do so sometime, or I don't know if he did or not)". However, this difference is subtle and some people may use the 2 sentences interchangeably.
     
  5. panettonea Senior Member

    English--US

    OK, thanks. As for 3), I didn't think it existed either, until I read the following in the informal translation of the Babiniotis grammar:


    θα έλυνε θα είχε λύσει θα έλυσε
    He would be untieing He would have untied He would untie




    http://web.archive.org/web/20071225051217/http://www.geocities.com/klairbab/modality.html#notes

    I just pasted the box above as is, even though "untieing" is a misspelling. So basically that guy's translation is incorrect then?
     
  6. panettonea Senior Member

    English--US
    OK, thanks.

    Do you mean simply that he made the promise in the past, or that he was going to call in the past, such that the call should have already occurred by the time this sentence was uttered?

    Well, when we use "would" with a verb in English, that isn't really considered a "past" form, I don't think. Anyway, in English, "He (had) said he would call," "He (had) said he was going to call," and "He (had) said he would be calling" are all fine.

    Same way in English. :)

    I don't quite understand what you mean about the short/long run here.

    Incidentally, in formal English, I don't believe that "He said that he will call" is considered correct. Or at least that rule holds most of the time--there are a couple of exceptions to it, I think. But in informal English, it's perfectly fine.

    Would it not make sense if used modally, however? For instance, couldn't "Είπε ότι θα τηλεφώνησε" mean:

    He said that she must have called ?
     
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2013
  7. panettonea Senior Member

    English--US
    Thanks--that's an interesting point. Maybe that's what Mariana94 was referring to as well when she said "short/long run."

    OK.
     
  8. Mariana94

    Mariana94 Junior Member

    Athens
    Greek
    Do you mean simply that he made the promise in the past, or that he was going to call in the past, such that the call should have already occurred by the time this sentence was uttered?

    He made a promise in the past (let's say he had promised/had said) that he would/was going to call in the past, implying in fact that the call should have already occurred by the time the sentence was uttered, despite it not being stated whether it occured or not.

    I don't quite understand what you mean about the short/long run here.

    He made a promise in the past that he is going to call in the furure, be it the near or the long-term future. As if, he let me know yesterday he is going to call next week. In any case, I'm still expecting his call.

    Incidentally, in formal English, I don't believe that "He said that he will call" is considered correct. I may be wrong, though. But in informal English, it's perfectly fine.

    I don't think that either. That's why I translated it as: He said he's going to call. Be going to, unlike will, involves the element of scheduling. I guess that's why it's more acceptable in formal speech. This distinction is slightly difficult to be made in Greek, as future is only expressed via θα. Of course, you can talk about future plans by ''boosting'' your sentence with the appropriate time markers or by going for the πρόκειται να syntax. That's a whole other story, though.

    Would it not make sense if used modally, however? For instance, couldn't "Είπε ότι θα τηλεφώνησε" mean:

    He said that she must have called? [/QUOTE]

    Είπε ότι θα έπρεπε/θα μπορούσε να έχει/είχε τηλεφωνήσει.
    That's what you're probably trying to say. If you read it carefully, you'll realize it's the exact translation of the English sentence you gave me. The tense (Παρατατικός) is denoted by the modals.

    Hope it's all clear now...
     
    Last edited: Aug 1, 2013
  9. panettonea Senior Member

    English--US
    Thanks--I understand what you mean now.

    OK. So in the first example, we don't know whether he called; but if he did call, the call should have occurred before the utterance of the sentence. And in the second example, we know the call hasn't yet occurred, so it's still expected.

    Actually, my point is that in formal English (not informal), if you have a "reporting" verb in the past tense, most of the time you cannot use another verb in the present or future tense along with it. For instance, one would say, "He said that he was going to call." There are a couple of exceptions, though:

    1) If the reported speech happened a very short time ago (i.e., a few minutes ago):

    I just talked to Mike 5 minutes ago. He said that he is going to/will be here tomorrow morning.

    2) If the fact being reported is something general that still holds true in the present:

    Last week, our teacher told us that the earth is round. But I think she's a square. ;)
    The BBC reported last month that the volcano will erupt again next year.

    Anyway, not all grammar sources agree, so some books may not make the distinctions above. :) Furthermore, I don't know what the rules are here for British English.

    That's an interesting way to think about it.

    Funny how Greek differs from both English and French in that regard.

    OK.

    Actually, I mean the sense used in the following sentence, straight from the Babiniotis grammar, which uses θα to mean "probably/must":

    Θα δούλεψε πολύ σκληρά γι' αυτό το έργο.

    Yes, that is definitely the meaning I was going for, but I didn't know whether in "Είπε ότι θα τηλεφώνησε," θα could be used to mean "probably/must" as it does in the sentence above from Babiniotis.

    Yes, the translation is exact. Maybe I shouldn't have used the word "modal," though. It seems that a lot of grammars use the same terms differently, so perhaps the way GACG uses the term isn't the most common way.

    It's definitely getting there. :D Thanks for your help. And BTW, I realized that the "94" in your screen name must be the year when you were born. :)
     
  10. Mariana94

    Mariana94 Junior Member

    Athens
    Greek
    Actually, my point is that in formal English (not informal), if you have a "reporting" verb in the past tense, most of the time you cannot use another verb in the present or future tense along with it. For instance, one would say, "He said that he was going to call." There are a couple of exceptions, though:

    1) If the reported speech happened a very short time ago (i.e., a few minutes ago):

    I just talked to Mike 5 minutes ago. He said that he is going to/will be here tomorrow morning.

    2) If the fact being reported is something general that still holds true in the present:

    Last week, our teacher told us that the earth is round. But I think she's a square. ;)
    The BBC reported last month that the volcano will erupt again next year.

    Anyway, not all grammar sources agree, so some books may not make the distinctions above. :) Furthermore, I don't know what the rules are here for British English.

    That's what I mean. He said he was going to call is acceptable, given that be going to has to do with plans set to be realised in the near future (scheduling). Thus, the fact that he's going to call seems certain as well as truthful. Will, on the other hand, wouldn't do as plan attainment is rather improbable and left to chance. I'm positive in British English the exact same pattern is followed.

    That's an interesting way to think about it.
    I was taught to think of it this way.

    It's definitely getting there. :D Thanks for your help. And BTW, I realized that the "94" in your screen name must be the year when you were born. :)[/QUOTE]
    Indeed.
     
  11. panettonea Senior Member

    English--US
    Maybe we're misunderstanding each other here. He said that he was going to call and He said that he would call are both fine, but that's because neither uses a present tense or future tense form of the verb in the "reported" clause. OTOH, He said he's going to call = He said he is going to call, which would be appropriate only in informal contexts, unless the reported speech happened very shortly before the utterance of the sentence. Anyway, "formal" English is becoming rarer and rarer, so 99% of the time you'll be just fine saying He said he's going to call or He said he will call. ;)

    That distinction is certainly interesting, but--in American English at least--doesn't really have anything to do with the tense rules that apply to this specific situation IMO. But if you find something different, be sure to post a link here.

    OK, you probably know more about the specific rules of British English than most Americans do, and perhaps this distinction does affect their choice of tense at times. :)

    In your English classes in Greece? In American English, I've never encountered that explanation, but it does make an interesting semantic distinction that is perhaps observed by English speakers in certain parts of the world.
     
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2013
  12. Eltheza

    Eltheza Senior Member

    Worcestershire, UK
    English - England (Midlands)
    I've read this most interesting thread:)! I'd like to ask the experts the following:

    If 3. 'Είπε ότι θα τηλεφώνησε' was translated as 'He said that she must have telephoned', wouldn't it be correct?

    In a Greek grammar book, ages ago, I recall that θα + Simple Past was explained as meaning a "logical deduction based on present evidence", similar to English "must have + pp"/"will have + pp".

    I have an example. Around 1990, I did some tour-guiding on Zakynthos. One morning, I turned up on time but the coach wasn't there. I asked Sakis, the boss (who'd only just arrived himself), where the coach was. He kept saying, "Θα έφυγε, θα έφυγε!!!" ("He must have left", etc.!)

    So we jumped in his car and drove to the first hotel pick-up point to find that the driver had indeed bloody well left without waiting for the tour guide :-D!

    My main point is, could "Είπε ότι θα τηλεφώνησε" be correct if it referred to two different people (He/She etc.)?

    P.S. Any use (?):

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/learningenglish/radio/specials/1535_questionanswer/page9.shtml
     
  13. Mariana94

    Mariana94 Junior Member

    Athens
    Greek
    No, we're not misunderstanding each other at all. I myself got you confused for having mistyped my initial example (I wrote: He said he was going to call, which we both know is perfectly fine, whereas I wished to write He said he is going to call, that's why I'm referring to the he's going to call part right below my first sentence).
    Based on the particular sense of be going to, I'd say it would do in formal English, too, since we're talking about scheduled plans that are certain to take place, and thus truthful. Let me alter one of the examples you previously mentioned:

    The BBC reported that the British Prime Minister is going to pay official visit to Slovenia next month.

    See? The Prime Minister is expected in Slovenia next month, so it's sure enough as well as valid information that his journey occurs. According to my Mastermind (whose pages I last remember flipping through it's been almost six years), will can be used for an event considered certain but be going to is used to speak about intentions and plans (scheduling) and future predictions based on present evidence, a fact that affirms their validity.

    BTW, my teacher was Australian but Mastermind's supposed to prepare students for both American and British examination tests, so I guess the same concept also applies in American English.
     
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2013
  14. Mariana94

    Mariana94 Junior Member

    Athens
    Greek
    Dear Eltheza,
    What Sakis kept saying is of course correct, as well as a sentence like Θα τηλεφώνησε would sound right in the very sense you have read about: He must have called. However, when subordinated to a reported verb the structure θα + Simple Past is less common. In order to translate the He said that she must have called example, I would suggest: Είπε ότι αυτή θα πρέπει να τηλεφώνησε, which is more or less a word by word English to Greek translation.

    P.S. 1) I by no means consider myself an expert. I just happen to be a native speaker. Είπε ότι αυτή θα τηλεφώνησε might not be wrong according to your grammar book, but it doesn't sound that natural compared to the θα πρέπει να... syntax. On the contrary, Είπε ότι αυτή μάλλον/ίσως τηλεφώνησε (probability indicated by your adverbs) would be a lot better. It's highly possible that any other native speaker in this forum would have an identical answer to give. Nevertheless, I'm looking forward to their comments, too.
    2) Thanks a lot for the link!
     
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2013
  15. Eltheza

    Eltheza Senior Member

    Worcestershire, UK
    English - England (Midlands)
    Dear Mariana94:),

    Thanks very much indeed! That's really helpful and I see your point:thumbsup:!
     
  16. Perseas Senior Member

    Athens - GR
    Greek
    I agree with Mariana.
    Είπε ότι θα τηλεφώνησε :cross:
    Είπε: "Θα τηλεφώνησε" :tick:
     
  17. panettonea Senior Member

    English--US
    OK.

    In American English, the rule concerning the tenses for "be going to" and "will" doesn't have anything to do with their meanings. Where the tense "is going to" is appropriate, "will" is too--and vice versa.

    What you're saying is true. In this case, however, will would work too:

    The BBC reported that the British Prime Minister will pay official visit to Slovenia next month.

    Will works here too because this situation is different from a general situation such as "he said that he would call." It's being reported in the news, and the fact that the BPM is officially scheduled to visit Slovenia next month has not changed. Another thing to keep in mind, though, is that "be going to" is generally less formal than "will."

    What is Mastermind?

    This so-called rule seems to be something that books use to teach non-native speakers the distinction between "be going to" and "will." So, in the sense that it can help non-native speakers learn when to differentiate between the two, it can be helpful. But overall, it's an artificial rule that really does not exist. Although the distinction you mention may hold true at certain times, more often than not it doesn't. It's a very gray area. Sometimes "be going to" and "will" are interchangeable, sometimes not. The more you become comfortable using English, it's best to "forget" that so-called rule and just go with your gut. That's what native English speakers do. We just speak what sounds most natural depending on the context. As I said, I had never heard of that rule before, and I don't know any other native speaker who has either. :)

    I guess the thing to keep in mind (no pun intended :)) is that Mastermind probably uses its own little rules of thumb to help prepare students in English. There's nothing inherently wrong with that, but just because Mastermind said it, that doesn't make it gospel. If a rule is truly valid, it will appear either in an English dictionary or in an English grammar source. I have not seen the "be going to/will" distinction in either type of reference. However, if you find one that does have it, please let me know.
     
  18. Eltheza

    Eltheza Senior Member

    Worcestershire, UK
    English - England (Midlands)
  19. panettonea Senior Member

    English--US
    Thanks for backing me up and forcing an answer on this one, Eltheza. :)

    That's helpful--thank you. There are even some threads in the English part of the WRF that discuss this issue. There are various opinions, many of which perhaps vary according to location. And there's nothing wrong with that. But in order for someone to call any possible distinctions between the two constructions a "rule," the rule has to be established by a reputable English reference. Otherwise, while the discussions themselves may be interesting :), none of the opinions in them are necessarily binding.
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2013
  20. panettonea Senior Member

    English--US
    Thanks, Eltheza. Maybe this distinction is observed in British English--I never claimed to know the answer to that. I was just speaking for American English, where there seems to be no such hard and fast rule. ;) Still, even British speakers in some of the WRF threads seemed to agree that the issue is definitely a gray area, and that any possible distinctions don't always hold true. And besides a ton of different American dictionaries, there are also a lot of usage guides for American English, such as Fowler's Modern English, etc. Perhaps one of them discusses this possible distinction, but I'm not aware of it. But to be considered a rule, it would have to appear in more than one out of, say, 50 of them. :) Furthermore, this "rule" is not taught in English classes in the U.S.--or if it is taught somewhere, the occurrences are few and far between.:D
     
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2013
  21. panettonea Senior Member

    English--US
    That's close enough. :)

    So what it all boils down to is that the sentence in question is not grammatically incorrect per se, but unidiomatic. IOW, there are better ways to express the same meaning. Got it--thanks!
     
  22. panettonea Senior Member

    English--US
    You're a little late to the party, but fortunately there are still a few μελομακάρονα left. :)
     
  23. Eltheza

    Eltheza Senior Member

    Worcestershire, UK
    English - England (Midlands)
    Hi panettonea!

    This "rule" isn't taught in English classes in the UK either, and never has been. I only know about English grammar because I've studied other languages.

    However, for the benefit (?) of non-native-speaking learners of English, things have to be codified and explained somehow. The "rules" are bendable, but it's helpful to know some guidelines before you can 'do your own thing' ;)!

    Have you heard of mod note: link to commercial site removed ?

    I don't know if it's covered in there; I gave my old copy to a dear Greek friend when I left Athens and threw in the teaching towel :D!

    (Yes, I did want to 'force' the issue because I understood exactly what point you were making :)!)
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 4, 2013
  24. panettonea Senior Member

    English--US
    Hi, Eltheza! :)

    I guess this post of mine will wrap up this thread.

    Thanks for the info. Oh, I get it--you were using this rule when you were teaching non-native speakers? Makes more sense now.

    I agree. It's just that the teacher needs to say to the students: "Listen, here's a nice little rule that will help you distinguish between the two. It's just a rule of thumb--not set in stone. Once you become more experienced in a few years, just try to use your ear to tell you what's more appropriate."

    I'm just concerned that this Mastermind or whatever is teaching the students "rules" in a way that makes them seem absolute. Poor Mariana seems to have been told by Mastermind that "this is how it works--end of story." So, I can understand where she's coming from--without talking to native speakers, she would have no way of knowing that not only are these "rules" not absolute, they don't even really exist in places like the U.S. That just goes to show that no book, no matter how good, is ever a substitute for interaction with native speakers. :)

    Could you please send me a PM with this info, since it got deleted? Thanks. (My first impression was: What is Mod Note? And no, I've never heard of it. ;))

    Good for you. I guess we native speakers of English think alike! ;)
     
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2013

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