I would say that I had [tenses reported speech]

  • Fabiola79

    Banned
    Polish
    Id like to say just I would say that I had loved you - standing alone anbd talking about the past.

    Should we say it without the sequence tenses: I would say that I loved you.
    One of users wrote it's correct to say 'I would say that I loved you' concerning the present time. Was he right ?
     

    Fabiola79

    Banned
    Polish
    The context is:
    I would say that I'm in love with you.
    Should we say it rather I would say that I was in love with you - talking about present times
    or I would say I had been in love with you - talking about the past ?
     

    Fabiola79

    Banned
    Polish
    I want to communicate:
    I would say that I felt / had felt love to you.

    The main clause tells us that I would say.
    The subordinate clause tells us that I felt love to you ( present )
    or that I had felt love to you ( past ).
     
    Last edited:

    Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    Any of the constructions are possible.

    What we want to understand is the situation in which you would say this. When did the 'loving you' go on? When did it stop? What is the general meaning of 'I would say'? Are you talking about habitual action in the past? Or are you talking about something that might have happened but didn't? Are you commenting on the fact of your loving in the past?

    That is the sort of thing we mean by 'context'.
     

    Fabiola79

    Banned
    Polish
    The sentences with the sequence of tenses are hypothetical.
    Am I right ?

    After 'would' in main clause we use the sequence of tenses in subordinate clause ?

    Am I right ?
     

    KHS

    Senior Member
    If you change the tenses, you change the meaning of the sentence. Thus, to tell you what is correct, we need to know which of the different possible meanings you are trying to express.

    There is not a correct answer and an incorrect answer. There are different possible meanings expressed by different sequences of tenses.
     

    Fabiola79

    Banned
    Polish
    1. I would say that I loved you.
    2. I would say that I had loved you.

    I'm giving the context:

    The main clause in both above sentences means I would say / I'd like to say now.

    The subordinate clause in sentence 1 is an action happening now, at the time of speaking; at the same time as I would say.

    The subordinate clause in sentence 2 is a finished action happening in the past,
    before the time of speaking, before I would say.

    Have I shown the context clearly to you ?

    Are the 2 sentences from the beginning of this post correct ?
     

    Biffo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    ...

    Have I shown the context clearly to you ?

    ...
    No, unfortunately you haven't shown the context at all.

    The following dialogue is an example of one way to provide context. I have used an imaginary conversation:

    John: Do you love me?
    Mary: I don't want to say.
    John: Why not?
    Mary: I would say that I loved you but then you might decide you don't love me. Then I would look foolish.

    In the above conversation the phrase is correct. I don't know if that is the sense you are asking about. You must provide your own context.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    Your sentences are possible. You have told us that they are in the present or in the past, but you have not given any context, so it's impossible to state whether they are "correct".

    Edit: Cross-posted. Biffo has been kind enough to explain to you what 'context' means.
     

    Fabiola79

    Banned
    Polish
    The context is:

    Sentence 1
    John: Do you love me?
    Mary: I don't want to say.
    John: Why not?
    Mary: I would say that I loved you, but I don't love you.


    Sentence 2
    John: Do you love me?
    Mary: I don't want to say.
    John: Why not?
    Mary: I would say that I had loved you long ago, but now I don't love you.
     
    Last edited:

    se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    John: Do you love me?
    Mary: I don't want to say.
    John: Why not?
    Mary: I would say that I loved you, but I don't love you.
    This sounds highly improbable to me. I say I don't love you, but under certain circumstances, which seem to be no different from the circumstances we are in now, I would say that I do love you.
     

    se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Last edited:

    Biffo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    But in the sentences in this thread we should not use the sequence of tenses.
    Am I right ?
    Returning to your original two questions: It is grammatically possible but very unlikely that someone would say I would say that I had loved you. It would require the invention of a very ingenious set of circumstances to make it work.

    My answer is:

    I would say that I loved you. :tick: (possible and could be said in a variety of circumstances)

    I would say that I had loved you. :cross: (Theoretically possible but very unlikely to be said in real life).

    I hope that answers your questions.
     

    wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    I would repeat the rule I mentioned in an earlier thread:
    the sequence of tenses is necessary in an indirect statement; it is incorrect in a direct statement.
     

    Fabiola79

    Banned
    Polish
    I'm giving the context:

    John: What would you say about me, my dear ?
    Patricia: I would say that I love you, honey.

    May we say simply I would say that I love you in this context ?
     

    JulianStuart

    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    I'm giving the context:

    John: What would you say about me, my dear ?
    Patricia: I would say that I love you, honey.

    May we say simply I would say that I love you in this context ?
    That is a good example of context - in this case the answer is perfect. We now know that the use of "would" is appropriate because it was in response to a question containing "would".
     

    se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I'm giving the context:

    John: What would you say about me, my dear ?
    Patricia: I would say that I love you, honey.

    May we say simply I would say that I love you in this context ?
    Yes, "love" is fine here, and tends to imply that I love you. "Loved" here might imply that I would say I loved you, but if I did so I would be lying.
     

    wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    Here again, I will still say that the sequence of tenses is required in an indirect statement.
    There are two correct options:
    (a) direct statement: ' I would say, "I love you, Honey" '; :tick:
    (b) indirect statement: 'I would say that I loved you, Honey'. :tick:
     

    KHS

    Senior Member
    I don't know who to trust.
    Is the sequence of tenses required here ?
    May we say simply I would say that I love you ?
    Yes, you can say that.

    That is why we keep asking you for context. A lot of grammar depends on the exact situation. Book rules are only very general, and never account for every single possible use.
     

    shorty1

    Senior Member
    Korean
    A: I dumped Jane.
    B: It's like Yesterday when you begged her not to leave you.
    Did you really love Jane? What would you say?
    A: I would say I loved her/I would say I had loved her, but, you know, Love is bound to change.

    In this case, which tense is appropriate, loved or had loved? or else Both are possible?
     
    Last edited:

    EStjarn

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    In this case, which tense is appropriate, loved or had loved? or else Both are possible?
    The appropriate tense here is the simple past, 'loved'. You could also say 'did love' with the same meaning.

    In order to use the past perfect, 'had loved', we would need two past time points. For example, we could say, "I had loved her for many years before we got married." Here both acts refer to the past. We have no idea whether he loves her today or whether they are still married. But in your context there is one present reference - he doesn't love her today - and one past - he loved her in the past - and because of that we cannot use the past perfect.
     

    shorty1

    Senior Member
    Korean
    The appropriate tense here is the simple past, 'loved'. You could also say 'did love' with the same meaning.

    In order to use the past perfect, 'had loved', we would need two past time points. For example, we could say, "I had loved her for many years before we got married." Here both acts refer to the past. We have no idea whether he loves her today or whether they are still married. But in your context there is one present reference - he doesn't love her today - and one past - he loved her in the past - and because of that we cannot use the past perfect.

    Thank you so much. :)

    Let me change the sentences a bit.

    A: I dumped Jane.
    B: It was like several days ago when you begged her not to leave you.
    Did you really love Jane?
    A: The answer would have been different depending upon when you asked.
    answer1) If you had asked me several days ago, I would have said that I loved her.
    answer2) If you had asked me yesterday, I would have said that I had loved her.


    So, Answer1) and Answer2) must be OK.


    If my understanding is wrong, enlighten me, please.
     
    Last edited:

    boozer

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    Your answer 2) tells me that you loved her before yesterday and yesterday you did not love her anymore. Answer 1) tells me that yesterday you still loved her.
     

    shorty1

    Senior Member
    Korean
    Your answer 2) tells me that you loved her before yesterday and yesterday you did not love her anymore. Answer 1) tells me that yesterday you still loved her.

    Thank you so much for confirming this, boozer. :)

    I agree with "Your answer 2) tells me that you loved her before yesterday and yesterday you did not love her anymore."

    However, I'm afraid that I don't agree with "Answer 1) tells me that yesterday you still loved her."

    It is because in answer 1), the condition of the time when you asked me is several days ago.

    Yesterday is still in the future at that point(=several days ago).


    I hope you understand my poor Englsih.
     

    EStjarn

    Senior Member
    Spanish
    If my understanding is wrong, enlighten me, please.
    I think your understanding is correct. These are the direct speech versions of the two hypothetical conversations:

    1) Several days ago:

    B: Did you really love Jane?
    A: I love Jane.

    2) Yesterday:

    B: Did you really love Jane?
    A: I have loved Jane.

    The choices of tense in the reported speech answers you give are in line with what is supposedly called an attracted sequence of tenses (see Wiki article, link in post #32). There is another rule too, a freer one called a natural sequence of tenses, which permits the following:

    1a) If you had asked me several days ago, I would have said that I love her.

    2a) If you had asked me yesterday, I would have said that I have loved her.

    As an addition, this is lifted from the Wiki article mentioned above:
    Debate amongst grammarians over the appropriateness of the two types of sequence of tenses goes back as far as the 18th century.
     

    shorty1

    Senior Member
    Korean
    I think your understanding is correct. These are the direct speech versions of the two hypothetical conversations:

    1) Several days ago:

    B: Did you really love Jane?
    A: I love Jane.

    2) Yesterday:

    B: Did you really love Jane?
    A: I have loved Jane.

    The choices of tense in the reported speech answers you give are in line with what is supposedly called an attracted sequence of tenses (see Wiki article, link in post #32). There is another rule too, a freer one called a natural sequence of tenses, which permits the following:

    1a) If you had asked me several days ago, I would have said that I love her.

    2a) If you had asked me yesterday, I would have said that I have loved her.

    As an addition, this is lifted from the Wiki article mentioned above:

    Thank you so much. :)

    I need some amount of time to absorb this.
     

    wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    According to that Wikipedia article:
    ... it is also possible to use the natural sequence even if the main verb is past or conditional:
    Batman said that he needs a special key for the Batmobile.
    In my view, this is simply erroneous and the terminology does not make sense.
    (If the tense in the subordinate clause is not shifted back to follow the past tense of the main verb, then no sequence of tenses is present: the second verb is simply not following the tense of the main verb.)

    It ought to be: Batman said that he needed a special key for the Batmobile. :tick:
     

    Biffo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    According to that Wikipedia article:

    In my view, this is simply erroneous and the terminology does not make sense.
    (If the tense in the subordinate clause is not shifted back to follow the past tense of the main verb, then no sequence of tenses is present: the second verb is simply not following the tense of the main verb.)

    It ought to be: Batman said that he needed a special key for the Batmobile. :tick:
    I understand your point but I'm not totally convinced. I'm always more persuaded by context than by rules.

    Example
    Batman is in the garage working on the Batmobile. Robin has just been asked to give a message to Alfred (Batman's butler).

    Alfred: Can I help you?
    Robin: I have a message from Batman. He's in the Batcave.
    Alfred: What did he say?
    Robin: He said that he needs the special key.
    Alfred: I'll get it for him.

    I cannot see a problem with Robin's second remark. Batman said (a few seconds ago) that he needs (right now) the special key.
     
    Last edited:

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I can't see a problem with Robin's second remark either, Biffo.

    I know you don't like rules but I think there is at least a convention that tense shifts of this kind are NOT necessary where we are concerned either with universal truths - he said the Earth is round, or with ideas which have great present import - he said he needs the special key.

    There's nothing grammatically wrong with he said he needed the special key, but it lacks the feel of urgent immediacy given by the present tense in the clause.
     

    Biffo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    ...There's nothing grammatically wrong with he said he needed the special key, but it lacks the feel of urgent immediacy given by the present tense in the clause.
    I'd go further. If someone said to me "he said he needed the special key. I would be expecting the rider "but he no longer does".
     

    wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    I'm always more persuaded by context than by rules.
    That does not seem to me to be a valid antithesis. There should not be any conflict between a sound context and a sound rule.
    Example
    Batman is in the garage working on the Batmobile. Robin has just been asked to give a message to Alfred (Batman's butler).

    Alfred: Can I help you?
    Robin: I have a message from Batman. He's in the Batcave.
    Alfred: What did he say?
    Robin: He said that he needs the special key.
    Alfred: I'll get it for him.

    I cannot see a problem with Robin's second remark. Batman said (a few seconds ago) that he needs (right now) the special key.
    That, with respect, seems to me to be a manufactured context.
    If Robin says he has a message, then the message is a present matter.
    Alfred is more likely to say 'What is it?' or 'What does he want?'
    Then Robin's likely reply is 'He says he needs the special key' or just 'He needs the special key'.

    There is, as a rule, more than one way to create a correct present context in the main clause, enabling the subordinate clause to have a correct present tense.
     

    Biffo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    That does not seem to me to be a valid antithesis. There should not be any conflict between a sound context and a sound rule.

    That, with respect, seems to me to be a manufactured context.
    If Robin says he has a message, then the message is a present matter.
    Alfred is more likely to say 'What is it?' or 'What does he want?'
    Then Robin's likely reply is 'He says he needs the special key' or just 'He needs the special key'.

    There is, as a rule, more than one way to create a correct present context in the main clause, enabling the subordinate clause to have a correct present tense.
    Yes it's a manufactured context. It would have taken me forever, searching the web, to find the precise real-life conversation needed to illustrate my point.

    I don't think your suggestions of what is 'more likely' provide a sufficient counter-argument. You need to show that I'm wrong, not merely that there are alternative ways to carry out the conversation. There are always alternative ways to say things in English, e.g. Hello, I'm John versus Hello, they call me John.​ In my personal experience the first greeting is much more likely but that doesn't make the second one ungrammatical or incorrect.
     

    wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    I have given what seems to me the more natural spoken exchange in that situation and shown that it conforms to the rule explained earlier. The past tense ('What did he say?' 'He said') seems out of place in the given context.

    On the other hand, suppose a studio hand who had watched the scene being filmed was asked afterwards what the characters said or did. Then it would be natural to say, 'Robin said Batman needed the special key'.
     

    kalamazoo

    Senior Member
    US, English
    The examples in post #13 make very little sense to me. Not only the highlighted sentences, but the whole dialogue doesn't make sense. Why is this in the context of "I don't want to say." Why in sentence 1 is this an answer to a question "why not?" I feel there is something you are trying to express, but I really can't tell what it is. What is Mary's reason for not wanting to say? Can you tell us her reason without using the word "would"? Is it somehow that she doesn't love John, but she feels if he asks her, then she is compelled to say she loves him, even though she doesn't love him?
     

    lucas-sp

    Senior Member
    English - Californian
    What context is not "manufactured"? The idea of there being some heirarchy of value - or even a distinction - between "natural" and "manufactured" contexts is absurd.

    The sentence "Batman said he needs the key" is perfectly fine and natural in English (as is "Batman says he needs the key," even when Batman did the "saying" in the past - shouldn't that be just as "incorrect"?). Time-shifting the subordinate clause in that sentence does indeed make it sound like Batman no longer needs the key, as Biffo said.

    As for the original question - time-shifting isn't really on the table here, because both sentences involve what John "would say" in the present. The question is: (A) how would he express that he loves Mary now, and (B) how would he express that he loved Mary in the past, but no longer?

    A) I would say [that] I love you...
    A) I would say [that] I loved you, except [some compelling reason not to say it]...

    B) I would say [that] I once loved you...
    B) I would say [that] I did love you...
     

    wandle

    Senior Member
    English - British
    What context is not "manufactured"? The idea of there being some heirarchy of value - or even a distinction - between "natural" and "manufactured" contexts is absurd.
    'Manufactured' in this case means 'devised to put a present tense in a past context'.
    Natural dialogue is a vital element of good writing, in novels as well as in scripts for film or theatre.
    The sentence "Batman said he needs the key" is perfectly fine and natural in English
    That is where I disagree, as there are several ways to preserve a present context.
    (as is "Batman says he needs the key," even when Batman did the "saying" in the past - shouldn't that be just as "incorrect"?).
    No: that is a well-established usage.
    Time-shifting the subordinate clause in that sentence does indeed make it sound like Batman no longer needs the key, as Biffo said.
    Not necessarily: see example in post 47. It may or may not do so, depending on context.
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top