He told me he was / is gay

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dearpangchao

Member
cantonese
My friend told me that :"i am gay" if i want to tell this to my another friend, what should i say? Which one is correct

He told me he was gay
He told me he is gay
 
  • Lis48

    Senior Member
    English - British
    Both are correct.
    He told me he was gay ... he is gay now or was sometime in the past. You don´t know.
    He told me he is gay ... he is gay now.
    Usually when we talk about something in reported speech, it will be in the past so the verb also changes to the past e.g.
    She said "It is cold." She said that it was cold (yesterday she said that so it was cold in the past).
    But sometimes you want to emphasise that something is still true now, so you don´t change the tense e.g.
    She said "The water is cold." She said that the water is cold. The water is still cold today though she told me that in the past.
     
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    boozer

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    My friend told me that :"i am gay" if i want to tell this to my another friend, what should i say? Which one is correct

    1. He told me he was gay
    2. He told me he is gay
    The rule says you must always use #1. Many will not like this and will find it illogical because "he" may still like men. But that is the rule and it is never wrong to keep to it, in my view.

    #2 can be used when he told you that, say, 5 minutes ago and you're reporting it or when you know for sure that he is still gay.

    Lis48 has given you good advice.
     

    Lis48

    Senior Member
    English - British
    I would agree that that was the rule I was taught 50 years ago in school.
    But the rule today is more relaxed and in reported speech, now we usually change the tense rather than always.
    If something is still true, then you can use the present tense and it doesn´t have to just be said 5 minutes ago.
    e.g. He said that his name was boozer. He said that his name is Peter.
    The latter emphasises that that is his family name that he will have for always, unlike a nickname that he might change.
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    It depends on the context and I'm assuming, perhaps wrongly, that the adjective gay has some special relevance. If my friend is casually wondering if that fellow Henry is gay, I would most likely say (that) he told me he is gay. Why change it if he's not dead?
    If the adjective had been different, for example "hard -up", which means short of money (not a sexual reference as a student of mine once thought), and a friend was wondering if Henry was hard- up, I might say he told me (that) he is, or, he told me was/had been, but he's got a well- paid job now.

    I guess this fits with
    #2 can be used .... when you know for sure that he is still gay
    except for the rather mysterious knowing the person is 'still' gay.


    #2 can be used when he told you that, say, 5 minutes ago and you're reporting it
    Why would I be reporting it? "Guess what! Henry (has) just told me he is gay! Wow! Gosh! Who'd have thought!"

    Well, yes, I guess so, if anybody really has conversations like this nowadays. In the circles I move in, people usually know and don't care or don't know and don't care either. It isn't all that important, or unusual.
    If, however, I was doing my homework after learning reported speech in Boozer's class, I would take great care to put it in the past, if Boozer had forgotten to provide a clear context.

    By the way a po11, if you wish to improve your English you can start with simple correct punctuation- capital I always.

    I am gay" if I want to tell this to my another friend, what should I say? Which one is correct
    These are careless, avoidable mistakes which would lose you at least one point in any exam or test I was conducting.



    :)

    Hermione
     
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