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  1. victo
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    victo Active Member

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    tense error?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by victo, Feb 8, 2015.

    Applicant Jon Doe responded to the Craigslist ad on Sunday and said he is coming in for an interview today between 4 and 5:30 p.m.

    Should "he is" be replaced by "he would" to agree with "responded"?

    But: John Doe says he is coming in ...
    Correct?
     
  2. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Applicant Jon Doe responded to the Craigslist ad on Sunday and said he is coming in for an interview today between 4 and 5:30 p.m.

    Applicant Jon Doe responded to the Craigslist ad on Sunday and said he would be coming in for an interview today between 4 and 5:30 p.m.

    The second construction leaves me with a feeling of incompleteness. The subjunctive needs its requisite qualification. ...and said he would be coming in for an interview today between 4 and 5:30 pm if he can find a ride.

    Also, changing it to he would doesn't create any sort of agreement with responded. They are not tied one to the other by any verb agreement rules. The clause boundary created by the conjunction and is very strong, just this side of a full stop. Few things cross that boundary.
     
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  3. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I need more context. Is this dialogue ? A status report? Narrative in past tense story? Narrative in a present tense story?

    I think that the unarguably correct version would have a tense change, yes:

    Applicant Jon Doe responded to the Craigslist ad on Sunday and said that he would be coming in for an interview today between 4 and 5:30 p.m.

    As dialogue, your choice of tense sounds perfectly natural:

    "What about John Doe?"
    "He called. He's coming in between 4 and 5:30."


    Edited to babble on: This example is pretty complicated. It refers to three separate times:

    Past: When called
    Present: When the state of things is that he is planning to come in
    Future: When he will actually come in

    And it adds the casual use of "he is coming in" to mean, really, "he is planning on coming in" or "the present plan is that he will come in". So I think that your example requires a casual, dialogue-like voice, and the present tense of either a present tense story or of dialogue.
     
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  4. lustrousonion
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    lustrousonion Contributing Member

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    John Doe says, "I am coming in."
    reported: John Doe said he was coming in.

    John Doe says, "I will come in."
    reported: John Doe said he would come in.

    Depending on what J.D. originally said, either was or would is correct.
     
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  5. victo
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    victo Active Member

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    Thanks, everyone.
     

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