One other tense question
Here’s what I read in a Yahoo article today:
“Meanwhile, a second team was preparing to leave on a Libyan C-130 cargo plane from Tripoli to Benghazi when Hicks said he learned from the Libyan prime minister that Stevens was dead.”
Now, as a native and educated (American) English speaker, I would have read this as perfectly fine and accurate, that is until I read the darn “5 Lessons for Mixing Past and
Present Tense” article (http://www.dailywritingtips.com/5-lessons-for-mixing-past-and-present-tense/).
Part of me says it should be written as follows, with the tense change in CAPITALS:
“Meanwhile, a second team was preparing to leave on a Libyan C-130 cargo plane from Tripoli to Benghazi when Hicks said he learned from the Libyan prime minister that Stevens IS dead.”
Should it not be “is” as opposed to “was"? But, with "is" used, it sound a bit off. However, if you use "was," doesn't it sound as if he is no longer dead (or that it he was possibly mistaken to be dead)? Or perhaps, instead of saying "is" or "was," "had been killed" would sound better in the sentence?
Because I continue to question myself, I wish I did not read the “5 Lessons” article. I wrote other questions about my sudden issue with tenses previously, and I appreciate the responses, but a response to this inquiry will hopefully put an end to this English-writing crisis of mine--I'm very frustrated about this, suffice it to say.
I think the Yahoo article is sloppy writing -- for the very reasons you note. Frankly, journalism is not a hotbed of clear, concise English writing. And Internet journalism, which has totally eschewed the necessary roles of editor and copy editor, is dismal.
I would have ended the sentence with "... that Stevens had died" or "had been killed." No confusion there.
(As an aside, when Chris Stevens was a freshman at UC Berkeley, I was a graduate Teaching Assistant for one of his classes.)
|link||answered May 07 '13 at 03:18 Jeff Pribyl Grammarly Fellow|
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