She said she studied English.

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britneyM

Banned
Japan Japanese
Can s1 mean the same thing as s2? Or is it possible to use s1 instead of s2?
s1: She said she studied English.
s2: She said she had studied English.

Thank you.
 
  • britneyM

    Banned
    Japan Japanese
    Sorry.
    My English is so poor and I can't understand the meaning of "Not really no."
    Would you please say that in other words?
     

    britneyM

    Banned
    Japan Japanese
    Hello panjandrum,

    Do you mean it's incorrect, in formal writing or formal speaking, to use s1 isntead of s2 ? And do you mean some people somtimes use s1 instead of s2 in casual writing or speaking?
     

    Asr

    Senior Member
    Turquie :)
    Hi,

    It is reported speech. So you report what someone says in past tense; you go back a tense.

    "I study English" Mark said. --- Mark said he studied English.

    "I studied English" Mark said. --- Mark said he had studied English.

    You see the difference? The first sentence conveys that Marks still studies English, while according to the second one he no longer does. I am not a native speaker but I hope this helps a bit.
     

    Lexiphile

    Senior Member
    England English
    Hello Britney,
    since NZ has gone to bed, and Panj is having lunch, I shall answer for them.

    "Not really no." Written like this, it means "more or less no, but not quite no." But that isn't what NZ intended. What he meant to write was "not really, no." (In New Zealand, the sheep have eaten most of the commas, so the residents have to use them very sparingly :)). With the comma, it means the same as "not only no, but hell no!".

    Yes, sometimes people use s1 in casual writing instead of s2.
    The problem here is that these sentences start with "She said...". That puts the aspect into the past ("Yesterday, she said...."). What she actually said was "I have studied English." But since she said it in the past, we need to change to present perfect ("have studied") into the past perfect ("had studied"). To change it to the simple past ("studied") is clearly illogical.


    If she had said "I studied English," which is unlikely unless she followed it by "when I was at school" or something like that, we would still be inclined to report it in the past perfect, since we don't have a tense in English to describe an action completed in the past from a viewpoint also in the past. Sentence s1 suggests that she said "I study English" -- a statement of a general and ongoing condition, like "I feel pain" -- which is also unlikely.

    Edit: Answers are like busses: you wait for hours, then two come along together!
     
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    RolandLavengro

    Member
    British English
    One difference between "She studied" and "She has studied" (reported as "She had studied") is that the first implies she studied within a particular time frame (number of years, or time at college etc) which began and ENDED before the time she is speaking. The second one, "She has studied' appies to a time frame that started but has not yet finished - i.e., up until this moment, NOW, the present, she HAS studied. (or, in the case of reported speach, the time she WAS speaking). Yes, she may have finished studying, but the point of her using this tense is not to inform you of what she DID, but what she HAS DONE - i.e, not focusing on the experrience but on the attainment, an achievement - something she still has to her credit (on a CV as a certificate, in this case as another langauge she can use), TODAY.
    Incidentally - we are reporting what she said, - hence the change from "she has studied' to "she HAD studied". It is very logical and aeshetically pleasing. Master the HAS and HAD and you are laughing (i.e. on your way to mastering the tenses)
    In some American English the second use is largely dropped - and one past tense only is used - the simple past. For example - the English ask "Have you eaten?" - meaning, are you hungry? The Americans ask "Did you eat?" - still wanting to know if you are hungry but actually asking what you were doing at breakfast time (presumably). I put presumbaly in brackets, because use of the simple past usually is accompanied by a particular time span (beginning and end). If i am asked "Did you eat?" i ask "When?" - yes, I ate yesterday, I ate when I was 12 years old? Why do you ask? OK,. I PRESUME they are asking "Have you eaten?" - i.e., in the recent past up until now when the effect of the food on your appetite is STILL RELEVANT. However, it isn't always as obivous - "Did you see your sister?" - and I think, oh no, has she been shown on "Cheaters" on the television, or some such occasion now finished.
    Sometimes the simple past is called the PAST HISTORIC - because it refers to events that are now HISTORY. The present perfect (the second of your tenses) is used when the influence of the event (etc) is or may still be relevant or going on. (I am not suggesting history isn't still relevant, but the events themselves have finished, and the relevance has to be explained through other means than switching tense. For instance, The War broke out in 1939. The War finished in 1945 so it is over. Finished. However, the conflict in Afghanistan (I don't think it has actually been decalred as a war) has led to many people dying (i.e., they are still dying).
     
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    britneyM

    Banned
    Japan Japanese
    In formal writing or formal speaking, is it incorrect to use s1 isntead of s2?
     
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    RolandLavengro

    Member
    British English
    In formal writing or formal speaking, is it incorrect to use s1 isntead of s2?
    No. It depends. If she had been asked, for example, what she did at University, then she may have replied that she studied English at University (Because she has now finished her term at University. If the time referred to is indeterminate, then she would say she has (She said she had) studied English - it doesn't matter when, only that at some time she HAS studied.
     

    marcin k

    Senior Member
    Poland, polish
    Here's why the two sentences mean two different things:

    Past Simple - AT THE SAME TIME AS - Past Simple
    Past Perfect = UP TO the time or BEFORE - Past Simple

    He said he studied English = When he said that, he still studied English, because:

    Past Simple - Past Simple (said - studied)

    He said he had studied English = When he said that, he didn't study English any longer - he had studied English before he said that, because:

    Past Perfect - earlier than - Past Simple

    I personally don't think Reported Speech should be treated as a seperate grammatical issue - it's nothing more than being logical with the grammatical tenses...
     

    RolandLavengro

    Member
    British English
    Indeed. Once you have grasped the difference between simple past and present past (or present perfect - there are different names aren't there?), and the past perfect - then you will have put yourself in a position to apply it (future present perfect in there - sorry, showing off again!). There are also some continuous variations - she said she had been studying English .... (i.e., what have you been doing for these last few years?) ... but you didn't ask about that. Yes, reported speech is very logical - it switches back one level - has to had ...
     
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    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    In formal writing or formal speaking, is it incorrect to use s1 isntead of s2?
    Hi britney

    It's difficult to comment on sentences without context:(

    I understand you to be asking whether it is correct, in formal speech or writing, to use the simple past in situations where strict logic would call for the past perfect.

    I can't answer in terms of correctness, only in terms of likelihood.

    I think you're more likely to hear the simple past used in conversation. I think you're less likely to see it in writing, especially formal writing.

    I also suspect you're more likely to hear/see the simple past in AmE than in BrE.
     

    britneyM

    Banned
    Japan Japanese
    I understand you to be asking whether it is correct, in formal speech or writing, to use the simple past in situations where strict logic would call for the past perfect.
    Yes, that's what I wanted to ask.

    I can't answer in terms of correctness, only in terms of likelihood.

    I think you're more likely to hear the simple past used in conversation. I think you're less likely to see it in writing, especially formal writing.

    I also suspect you're more likely to hear/see the simple past in AmE than in BrE.
    I'm so happy to hear that.
    I thought, before I posted my first post in this thread, the past perfect and the past sometimes don't have clear difference or clear boundary in usage and could be sometimes used interchangebly, although the past and the present perfect are quite different and clearly distinguished.

    So I thought it may be possible, even in formal writing, to use s1 instead of s2.

    My idea is so vague and obscure and I can't explain why, but I do feel s1 could be sometimes used instead of s2.

    s1 should never mean s2, but that's not to say that some people don't say s1 when they should say s2.
    But I understand panjaundrum's feeling. That's what I learned at school.

    And also I have to thank Lexiphile and other teachers, who gave me great helps.

    Thank you.
     
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    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    In formal writing or formal speaking, is it incorrect to use s1 isntead of s2?
    As I hope is clear from the above, s1 and s2 are different, they have different meaning.
    Therefore, in any formal context you should not use one in place of the other unless you can find a context in which their meanings overlap.
     
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