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Is the following sentence correct?

I still remembered that the school manager in the seminar talked really sweetly about how bright future it is if a student could finish their courses.

Clearly, the school manager talked in the past.

Do I need to change to it was?

I still remembered that the school manager in the seminar talked really sweetly about how bright future it was if a student could finish their courses.

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    I would favor "how bright future it would be if a student could...". There are other minor errors in your sentence. Maybe still remember or just remembered depending on what you're trying to say. Have you looked at ELL? Jul 1, 2014 at 5:20
  • Was is marginally preferable as it is reported speech.
    – Greybeard
    Jan 29, 2022 at 16:25

2 Answers 2

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I think it's an awkward sentence, and the meaning is unclear. What really struck me is the use of student, which is singular and their, which is plural. Also, I wonder about the words, how bright future it is... Addressing these two issues and the original matter of tense, I might rewrite it in the following way...

I still remembered when the school manager in the seminar spoke (omit really) sweetly about how bright the future would be if a student could finish his or her courses.

Sometimes the whole his or her thing sounds clunky, so if it makes sense in the context of what is being written, maybe it could be....

I still remembered how the school manager in the seminar spoke sweetly about how bright the future would be if the students could finish their courses.

Finally, unless the following would be changing the meaning too much, the clearest version....

I remembered how the school manager in the seminar spoke sweetly about a brighter future if only the students finished their courses.

(Note: in the final version, I removed the word "still," yet it may belong if it is relevant to the author's meaning.)

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    "They" has been used as a singular pronoun for a very long time, and I've never heard of anyone being confused by this usage (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Singular_they). Although some people frown upon the singular "they," others prefer it to the clunky "her or his."
    – Vectornaut
    Jul 1, 2014 at 7:34
  • Vectornaut, I agree, the use of his/her is awkward, yet resorting to the singular they is not ideal either, despite the fact it is more accepted. Fortunately, there is a 3rd option, which is why I suggested making both the pronoun and the antecedent plural, unless there is only 1 student which would change the author's meaning. Also, just to clarify,the usage of a singular they was not why I found the sentence a bit confusing, but looking over my comment I see how one might come to that conclusion. It was the "how bright future" word choice. New to this, sorry if I offended anyone.Thank you!
    – user82677
    Jul 1, 2014 at 9:27
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For me, different choices of tense can convey subtly different meanings. For example, I sometimes use the present tense if the speaker was describing a condition which is still ongoing:

  • "Yesterday, Coach Wu told us we have a good chance of winning the playoffs."
  • "The doctor called last night and said my uncle is feeling better."
  • "In the 16th century, Copernicus described a universe in which the sun is fixed and the planets revolve around it."

On the other hand, I might use the past tense to suggest that the speaker was describing a condition which is no longer true:

  • "Yesterday, Coach Wu told us we had a good chance of winning the playoffs. That was before our goalie broke her ankle."
  • "The doctor called last night and said my uncle was feeling better. When I went to visit him this morning, however, he seemed much worse."

I might also use the past tense if the speaker was describing a situation which is now in the past:

  • "Last season, Coach Wu told us we had a good chance of winning the playoffs."
  • "In Les Misérables, Victor Hugo described a Paris in which the poor were struggling to survive."

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