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Example 1: It was odd (that) you should say that

Example 2: It was odd (that) you should have said that

I don't understand what the putative should implies when it's constructed with the present perfect, as in example 2. I can't tell the differences between the two.

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    And neither can I. Here is a discussion from another website: 'from my book: 2. It's surprising that he should say/should have said that to you.' _ Bob8964 So, for "It [was] strange you said that", do[es this] mean that we can use either of the following forms to express the same meaning? 1. It [was] strange that you should say it. 2. It [was] strange that you should have said it.// 'e2efour Senior Member: "It's just a different way of saying the same thing." ' http://forum.wordreference.com – Edwin Ashworth Feb 10 '15 at 10:20
  • But how does one justify the statement that 'it's just a different way of saying the same thing?' he seems to have arrived at the conclusion just like that. – Lucie Duck Feb 10 '15 at 10:29
  • It might be 'justified' in the sense that OED lists it as an allowable usage. Have a look at tchrist's answer (for 'should after certain adjectives'; I think it's number 4 there) in the Confusing structures with modal verbs thread to see how complicated modal usage is. (I don't think he even gets to 'odd that you should have'!) But OED only tells us what is generally considered acceptable; asking for logical underpinning is usually futile. – Edwin Ashworth Feb 10 '15 at 11:00
  • @Edwin - thanks for the helpful links; I'll certainly have a look at that! :) – Lucie Duck Feb 10 '15 at 11:54
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1 refers to something said now. 2 refers to something said in the past.

I see this must be explained more clearly. If we change the main clause to present tense we get

3 It is odd that you (should) say this. The that-clause refers to something said just now. That English uses this "should" ( often called putative should) in a similar way as in French the subjunctive is used after expressions containing a judgement is a special quirk.

4 It is odd that you should have said this. Here the that-clause refers to something said in the past (yesterday, a week ago, etc)

If we change the main clause to past the that-clause doesn't shift tense because "should" is already in past tense. The reference of the that-clause remains principally the same. Some says "It was odd that you should say this" and refers to the remark he just heard at that point in the past.

If he would refer to a remark back in time he would say: It was odd that you should have said this (some days/a week ago).

Remark: Sometimes should + infinitive is used instead of should + infinitive perfect and the construction can become ambiguous. Then it can be better to avoid "should".

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    No; 'It was odd' places the speech act in the past. – Edwin Ashworth Feb 10 '15 at 10:08
  • That's just it. Both are in the past, but I'm thinking 'It was odd (that) you should have said that' implies further back into the past. I'm not sure. – Lucie Duck Feb 10 '15 at 10:19
  • The thing that bedevils me is that present perfect refers to time up until now, but the act is said and done with, so what exactly is being the focus up until now? – Lucie Duck Feb 10 '15 at 10:32
  • @rogermue: I suspected all this as much! Thank you for sharing and clarifying further :) – Lucie Duck Feb 10 '15 at 10:50
  • 'Remark: Sometimes should + infinitive is used instead of should + infinitive perfect and the construction can become ambiguous. Then it can be better to avoid "should".' If there's any possibility of 'should + infinitive [being] used instead of should + infinitive perfect', and you imply that there is always such a possibility, you are saying that 'should' should always be avoided. A temporal modifier (or other contextualisation) is useful: "It was odd that you should have said that just two days earlier." Without such, I'd assume the 'one occasion in the past' sense. – Edwin Ashworth Feb 10 '15 at 11:08

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