• The alchemist again

    From Alexander Koryagin@2:221/6 to All on Fri Apr 12 13:54:56 2019
    Hi, all!


    ALCHEMIST, by PAULO COELHO
    -----Beginning of the citation-----
    When the pan had cooled, the monk and the boy looked at it, dazzled. The
    lead had dried into the shape of the pan, but it was no longer lead. It
    was gold.

    "Will I learn to do that someday?" the boy asked.

    "This was my Personal Legend, not yours," the alchemist answered. "But I
    wanted to show you that it was possible."
    ----- The end of the citation -----

    Could the alchemist say, "But I wanted to show you that it IS possible." After all he spoke of universal truth, at least he thought so. But may be English Grammar demands the Past Tense anyway (was possible)?

    Bye, all!
    Alexander Koryagin

    ---
    * Origin: nntps://fidonews.mine.nu - Lake Ylo - Finland (2:221/6.0)
  • From Mike Powell@1:2320/105 to ALEXANDER KORYAGIN on Fri Apr 12 20:27:00 2019
    "This was my Personal Legend, not yours," the alchemist answered. "But I wanted to show you that it was possible."
    ----- The end of the citation -----

    Could the alchemist say, "But I wanted to show you that it IS possible." After >all he spoke of universal truth, at least he thought so. But may be English >Grammar demands the Past Tense anyway (was possible)?

    I personally would have used IS, but maybe the author used WAS because they used it in the first part of the quote.

    I was always taught to use the active tense, when possible, unless I am speaking of something that happened in the past.

    Mike

    ---
    SLMR 2.1a A preposition is what you don't end a sentence with. Um.
    * Origin: capitolcityonline.net * Telnet/SSH:2022/HTTP (1:2320/105)
  • From Ardith Hinton@1:153/716 to Mike Powell on Mon Apr 15 22:46:04 2019
    Hi from Vancouver, BC! Recently I heard the two of you saying to each other:

    "This was my Personal Legend, not yours," the alchemist
    answered. "But I wanted to show you that it was possible."

    Could the alchemist say, "But I wanted to show you that
    it IS possible." After all he spoke of universal truth,
    at least he thought so.


    Yes, yes, and yes.... :-)



    But may be
    |I'd say "maybe", or "it may be that"

    English Grammar demands the Past Tense anyway


    English grammar allows... but does not necessarily require... tense changes in reported speech, where the original wording may not be cited as it was said. I'd suggest looking up "reported speech" vs. "direct speech". :-)



    I personally would have used IS, but maybe the author used
    WAS because they used it in the first part of the quote.

    I was always taught to use the active tense, when possible,
    unless I am speaking of something that happened in the past.


    Basically, I agree with you there although I'd describe the "is" as present tense & the use of the past tense in such situations is not uncommon.

    I might say... in my own words... "The alchemist wanted to show his student that xxx was possible" because I'm referring to past events. I would expect the alchemist to say "I wanted to show you that it is possible" if his intention was to encourage the student to complete his homework.

    I'm reminded of an incident in which I demonstrated to some kids in grade eight who felt it took too long to use the dictionary that, because I'd been practising this skill before they were born, I could find words of their choice within fourteen seconds including the time I spent picking up the book from my desk. As one of my teachers often said, "Genius is 10% inspiration & 90% perspiration." In his youth people thought Einstein was a dunce.... :-Q




    --- timEd/386 1.10.y2k+
    * Origin: Wits' End, Vancouver CANADA (1:153/716)
  • From Alexander Koryagin@2:221/6 to Ardith Hinton on Thu Apr 18 10:04:48 2019
    Hi, Ardith Hinton : Mike Powell!
    I read your message from 15.04.2019 22:46

    "This was my Personal Legend, not yours," the alchemist
    answered. "But I wanted to show you that it was possible."

    Could the alchemist say, "But I wanted to show you that it IS
    possible." After all he spoke of universal truth, at least he
    thought so.

    Yes, yes, and yes.... :-)


    But may be
    |I'd say "maybe", or "it may be that"


    English Grammar demands the Past Tense anyway


    English grammar allows... but does not necessarily require... tense changes in reported speech, where the original wording may not be
    cited as it was said. I'd suggest looking up "reported speech"
    vs. "direct speech". :-)

    Where do you see the reported(indirect) speech? IMHO, if we see quotation marks
    it is not the indirect speech:

    "This was my Personal Legend, not yours," the alchemist answered. "But I wanted
    to show you that it was possible."


    Bye, Ardith!
    Alexander Koryagin
    english_tutor 2019

    ---
    * Origin: nntps://fidonews.mine.nu - Lake Ylo - Finland (2:221/6.0)
  • From Ardith Hinton@1:153/716 to Alexander Koryagin on Mon Apr 22 23:20:45 2019
    Hi, Alexander! I'm glad you answered here because I intended this reply to be addressed to both you & Mike, but forgot how to persuade timEd to do it:

    Could the alchemist say, "But I wanted to show you that
    it IS possible." After all he spoke of universal truth, at
    least he thought so.

    Yes, yes, and yes.... :-)


    [...]

    English grammar allows... but does not necessarily require
    ... tense changes in reported speech, where the original
    wording may not be cited as it was said. I'd suggest
    looking up "reported speech" vs. "direct speech". :-)

    Where do you see the reported(indirect) speech? IMHO, if
    we see quotation marks it is not the indirect speech:

    "This was my Personal Legend, not yours," the alchemist
    answered. "But I wanted to show you that it was possible."


    Good point. I don't know what happened before that & the situation may not be quite the same as it would be if he were reminding the student what he had said earlier. AFAIC, though, you acknowleged a rather important detail in your initial enquiry: to him this possibility doesn't have a "best-before" date as other concepts do. I generally learn best when I understand why & you explained it very well. Native speakers often struggle with such matters too. I'm reminded here of the senior citizen in a novel our daughter is reading who comments that a lot of younger folks know how, but not why. I found myself in much the same position when, as a high school student, I was asked if I would be interested in tutoring another young woman who'd lived in Japan until quite recently. I felt she deserved better answers than "I dunno... that's just the way we do it," but sometimes I wasn't sure about the whys & wherefores. These days I count on my Russian friends to add the relevant grammatical terminology and, in many cases, to understand us better than we understand ourselves. :-Q

    IMHO you hit the nail on the head when you recognized that from the alchemist's POV he was indeed referring to a universal truth. This person had evidently succeeded in accomplishing his goal, therefore "I wanted" belongs in the past tense. While I don't know of any rule(s) about the next bit it seems logical to you & me & Mike to use the present tense. Others who don't do that may not have consciously thought about such fine shades of meaning and/or they may erroneously believe all three clauses should use the same verb tense. :-)




    --- timEd/386 1.10.y2k+
    * Origin: Wits' End, Vancouver CANADA (1:153/716)