If you <are saying><say>...

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JJXR

Senior Member
Russian
Hello to all,

Thanks for reading my post.


Context:

I'm answering someone's question and explaining the difference between "Edward always goes with the crowd" and "Edward has always gone with the crowd".

Sample sentences:

1. If you say "Edward always goes with the crowd," it's not clear whether you have known Edward for a few days or many years. If you say "Edward has always gone with the crowd," it implies you have known him for a long time.

2. If you are saying "Edward always goes with the crowd," it's not clear whether you have known Edward for a few days or many years. If you are saying "Edward has always gone with the crowd," it implies you have known him for a long time.

Question:

In this context, is it correct to use the bolded tenses the way I have used them? I think yes, and I think the difference is that when the present continuous "are saying" is used, this gives the impression that the addressee is now in the process of saying one of the phrases in quotation marks. When the present simple "say" is used, there is no such implication ("say" implies "everytime you say..."). Is my understanding correct, and are sentences #1 and #2 interchangeable in this context?


Thanks a lot for any comments, corrections or suggestions!

Regards,
JJXR
 
  • Glenfarclas

    Senior Member
    English (American)
    You should use the simple present tense there. With the present progressive it is sounding sounds like you mean, "If you are in the process of saying...; if you are right in the middle of saying...".
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    Yes, that sounds a reasonable way of describing the difference. The most likely time I would use the present continuous of 'to say' is in a question 'are you saying...?' to try to understand what the other person has just said/is trying to say. You can use 'if you are saying' in similar circumstances.
     

    JJXR

    Senior Member
    Russian
    If I understand you correctly, Uncle Jack, sentence #2 can be said in a context in which I'm not sure whether the other person has asked me to comment on "Edward always goes with the crowd" or "Edward has always gone with the crowd". So, I tell them what each version means hoping that I have covered what has been asked. Is this correct?
     
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    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    If I understand you correctly, Uncle Jack, sentence #2 can be said in a context in which I'm not sure whether the other person has asked me to comment on "Edward always goes with the crowd" or "Edward has always gone with the crowd". So, I tell them what each version means hoping that I have covered what has been asked. Is this correct?
    If I understand you correctly, only the simple present tense is appropriate, as you are not really talking about what they are saying right there and then, but what they would say in a general situation. However, I might have misunderstood. If you write out a dialogue it might become clearer.
     

    Chasint

    Senior Member
    English - England
    As far as I can see the difference is made clear by the presence or absence of quotation marks.

    1. If you say "Edward always goes with the crowd" then your grammar is correct.

    2. If you are saying Edward always goes with the crowd, then I disagree - sometimes he forms his own opinion.
     

    JJXR

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Thank you all for the responses.

    I've just found a context similar to mine in which a native speaker uses the present continuous tense (this link):

    Dialog:

    A: In the sentence "Shoot! I totally forgot I'd eaten a couple of hours ago. If I eat this right now, I'll gain weight.", is it okay to use "a couple of hours ago" with the past perfect in this case since it just happened?

    B: No. If you are saying this about the present you have to say "I totally forgot I ate." If you are saying this of the past you'd have to say "I totally forgot (or "I had totally forgotten") that I'd eaten a couple of hours before."
    If you write out a dialogue it might become clearer.
    Dialog:

    A: Is it correct to say both "Edward always goes with the crowd" and "Edward has always gone with the crowd"?

    B: Yes, they are both correct. But if you are saying "Edward always goes with the crowd," it's not clear whether you have known Edward for a few days or many years. If you are saying "Edward has always gone with the crowd," it implies you have known him for a long time.
     
    Last edited:

    Chasint

    Senior Member
    English - England
    ...
    B: "No. If you are saying this about the present you have to say "I totally forgot I ate." If you are saying this of the past you'd have to say "I totally forgot (or "I had totally forgotten") that I'd eaten a couple of hours before."
    ...
    That's just as in the examples I gave.

    "No. If you say "I totally forgot I ate" then ...

    versus

    "No. If you are asserting this about the present ..."
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    Dialog:

    A: Is it correct to say both "Edward always goes with the crowd" and "Edward has always gone with the crowd"?

    B: Yes, they are both correct. But if you are saying "Edward always goes with the crowd," it's not clear whether you have known Edward for a few days or many years. If you are saying "Edward has always gone with the crowd," it implies you have known him for a long time.
    That is what I thought you meant when I wrote post #5, and I would use the simple present as B is simply answering A's question. In the other example you quote, B appears to be questioning what A is saying, for which the present continuous is fine.
     

    JJXR

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Thanks Uncle Jack and Chasint.

    According to post #3, I conclude that sample sentence #2 in post #1 is grammatically correct and can be said under the same circumstances as the sentence below. Am I correct?

    Are you saying "Edward always goes with the crowd"? If so, it's not clear whether you have known Edward for a few days or many years. Are you saying "Edward has always gone with the crowd"? If so, it implies you have known him for a long time.
     
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    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    I think so, but I am struggling to imagine under what circumstances you would say the words in post #10. Not the whole of it at any rate.
     

    JJXR

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Thanks Uncle Jack.
    I am struggling to imagine under what circumstances you would say the words in post #10.
    [X] Forgive me, my child, I don't hear well these days. Are you saying "Edward always goes with the crowd"? If so, it's not clear whether you have known Edward for a few days or many years. Are you saying "Edward has always gone with the crowd"? If so, it implies you have known him for a long time.

    [Y] Forgive me, my child, I don't hear well these days. If you are saying "Edward always goes with the crowd," it's not clear whether you have known Edward for a few days or many years. If you are saying "Edward has always gone with the crowd," it implies you have known him for a long time.

    What I mean is that [X] and [Y] are equivalent. The continuous form "are saying" is used because the speaker wants to understand what the other person has just said.
     
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