Lessons from Bremner
This is the fifth lesson from a DVD of editor extraordinaire John Bremner. Click here for the first, second, third and fourth.
Bremner is going through a sentence on his editing test.
4. He claimed he knows a star athalete who will sign with the school.This lesson so resonates with me, and I was never even taught sequence of tenses in college. But it makes so much sense. Why are so many desks dropping this rule?
BREMNER: I don't use claimed as a verb unless I'm using it in the context of an assertion, of a legal right or title. I would say "said" in this context. He's not claiming a right or title.
He said he knew, sequence of tenses. Now, a lot of people preach about sequence of tenses but don't follow the sequence of tenses. I don't know, I still teach it. To me, it makes sense.
I don't feel well. "What'd he say?" He said he didn't feel well. I'm speaking: I don't feel well. "What did he say?" He said he didn't feel well. You automatically change present to past when the controlling verb is said, when the controlling verb is a verb in the past tense, not present tense. He says he doesn't feel well. He said he didn't feel well.
I will go to Florida -- please, God -- in a couple of weeks. "What'd he say?" He said he would go to Florida. Change future to conditional.
I've been here only 24 hours. "What'd he say?'" He said he had been here only 24 hours. Change perfect to past perfect.
Does anyone out there still change sequence of tenses? Espcially with "said"?
(And, yes, athlete is spelled athalete in the test, and he doesn't mention it here. But the DVD only gives excerpts of his lesson. I am sure he mentioned it, just not here.)