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Which of the followings sentences would be the best choice?

The victim explained how he became addicted five years ago...

  1. His addiction is so bad that he is unable to keep a steady relationship.
  2. His addiction has been so bad that he has been unable to keep a steady relationship.
  3. His addiction has been so bad that he is unable to keep a steady relationship.
  4. His addiction had been so bad that he was unable to keep a steady relationship.
  5. His addiction had been so bad that he had been unable to keep a steady relationship.

He hasn't treated his addiction yet.

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They're all grammatical, but each has different time references - and they're not examples of reported speech. Could you tell us why you are asking? –  Barrie England Feb 21 '13 at 16:28
    
I wasn't sure if it was an example of reported speech although the reporting verb was in another sentence. –  user38017 Feb 21 '13 at 16:39
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closed as not a real question by MετάEd, tchrist, Matt Эллен, Barrie England, cornbread ninja 麵包忍者 Feb 21 '13 at 17:08

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1 Answer

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Examples 1 and 2 sound fine to me, although for clarity's sake I would change their wording a little bit. Number 1 would then become, "His addiction today is so bad that he is unable to keep a steady relationship." Number 2 would then become, "Since then, his addiction has become so bad that he has been unable to keep a steady relationship."

Example 3 is a little confusing by its combining of the past and present. The sentence starts out by referring to a time in the past (which could have been a few weeks or a few years ago). The reader then expects the writer to provide an example from the past, indicating how bad the addiction has been (and not as it is now). Hence, a better wording would be, "His addiction has been so bad that he has been unable to keep a steady relationship." Another possibility is, "His addiction has been so bad that [at one point] he was unable to keep a steady relationship." (While still addicted today, he may nevertheless be able to keep a steady relationship.)

Examples 4 and 5 can be eliminated because the victim, I assume, is still addicted. The "had been" from each example makes it sound as if the addiction is a thing of the past, which it is not.

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Thanks for your answer. It was exactly what I was asking for. –  user38017 Feb 21 '13 at 17:17
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