He said he is from india.

  • alohafromjapan

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    Thanks,Barque!
    My English teacher taught me that the sentence must be "He said he was from India"
    I don't understand why the sentence #1 is incorrect.
    I'd like to know native speakers' opinion.
     

    Barque

    Senior Member
    Tamil
    I didn't give you an answer either way in my last post, Aloha.:) I was just asking the reason for your doubt.

    Your teacher probably recommended "was" to match the tense of "said". But he continues to be from India and so I'm not sure "is" is incorrect.
     

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    Yes: if you follow the standard pattern of tense backshifting in reported speech, which is what your English teacher will have taught you, you end up with:
    "He said he was from India". That's the way I would do it. :)

    You could also have:
    "He says he is from India".

    I personally would not mix the two and have a simple past followed by a present, but you will see in some textbooks that there is an option to do that where the facts reported in the statement have not changed in the meantime.
     

    alohafromjapan

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    Thanks,Barque and Mr.DonnyB!

    My teacher also mentioned that we always have to use the present tense when expressing the everlasting truth.
    That's why I am confused.

    "He is from India" is not the everlasting truth?
     

    suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    There is no problem in mixing them if there is a reason to mix them.

    e.g. "He said he is from India so he wont like your curry."

    i.e. he told me this fact in the past (he said) but his place of origin carries on being the same so the present tense is suitable (he is from there) and this has an implication about the menu we are planning now and into the future. (he wont like your curry!)
     

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    e.g. "He said he is from India so he wont like your curry."
    That would work for me as a perfect tense followed by a present and a future:
    "He's just told me he is from India and so he won't like your curry."

    But after a simple past I'd backshift the whole thing:
    "He said he was from India so he wouldn't like your curry." :)
     

    alohafromjapan

    Senior Member
    Japanese
    Thanks again,Mr.DonnyB!

    *He said the earth is round.
    The sentence above is all-time truth
    so we don't backshift,right?

    I feel that "He is from India" is also all-time truth.
    Why do we need to backshift this time?
     

    DonnyB

    Sixties Mod
    English UK Southern Standard English
    I think personally it's a mistake to get too sidetracked by this idea of all-time or everlasting truths. Basically it's putting forward the concept that some things will always be true, no matter what. So you can argue that the earth will always be round (ignoring the fact that centuries ago, people were totally convinced it was flat ;)). I just don't think that someone coming from India falls into that category, quite honestly.
     

    Englishmypassion

    Senior Member
    India - Hindi
    An Indian can change his/her nationality, sir DonnyB, and you are right that it's not so everlasting truth. (Though I don't have an opportunity to settle abroad:(.)
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    The standard advice on this is that you don't need to backshift:

    1. For everlasting truths - he said that if you heat water it boils.

    2. For expressions with urgent present force - he said that the fire engine is on its way.

    3. For expressions which remain true - he said he is from India.

    For some reason this idea of not needing to backshift creates panic in some learners, who may have to choose between two correct sentences:

    a. He said he has measles.


    b. He said he had measles.

    a. is common and idiomatic where the reported fact remains true - he still has measles.

    a. would be incorrect where the fact had ceased to be true - after his recovery from the measles.

    Now his coming from India remains true for all time, so both form a. and form b. would be correct here.

    What is the difference? He said he is from India has maybe a more immediate feel to it, and raises fewer questions than He said he was from India, which would be something one might say when explaining that he was lying.
     
    Last edited:

    Barque

    Senior Member
    Tamil
    What is the difference? He said he was from India has maybe a more immediate feel to it, and raises fewer questions than He said he was from India, which would be something one might say when explaining that he was lying.
    I think you meant to say "...he is..." in the first highlighted portion.
     

    suzi br

    Senior Member
    English / England
    Clearly Donny and I see this differerently. While the chap IS from India it is fine to use the present tense about it, even when his telling me that fact has happened in the past. I would not see the need to "backshift". Thomas's explanation makes sense to me.

    The Indian guy didn't say he wouldn't like your curry, by the way, that was my own opinion based on his curry expertise and my knowledge of your curry cooking!

    So that bit is definitey not going into the past tense!
    :D
     

    Parla

    Member Emeritus
    English - US
    In AE, we'd most likely say: He said he was from India.

    If the "was" bothers you (because his status hasn't changed), think of "was" as meaning was originally.
     

    Winstanley808

    Banned
    English - U.S.
    He said he was from India.

    Is the speaker implying that he might have told a lie?
    Not necessarily, but he could be:

    A. Did you know that Rajeev was born in London and has lived there all his life?
    B. You don't say! When I talked to him last week, he said he was from India.
     
    Last edited:
    < Previous | Next >
    Top