I've been asking a lot about backshifting of tenses for quite some time and I have come across many articles/blogs where this so-called rule is not always followed unlike notable grammar books.

For example :

Asked about an update on the condition of three Indians including two teachers, abducted near war-torn Libya and held hostage by the Islamic militant group ISIS, the spokesperson said they have received a video evidence of their being "alive" as recent as September 27 and they were making all efforts to secure their release.
source: The Times of India

My question is, since the main verb is in the past tense 'said' don't you think that it should be had received instead of have received?

You see this is one such link. I can provide multiple examples which contain the same errors (if I can call this an ‘error’).

If journalists can use similar grammar then isn't it acceptable?

closed as primarily opinion-based by Andrew Leach Oct 8 '15 at 21:12

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    This is Indian English, which can obey different grammatical rules than standard U.S. or U.K. English, and the article contains several other things that would clearly be grammatical errors in standard English — i.e., they have received a video evidence, and as recent as. – Peter Shor Oct 8 '15 at 18:46
  • @PeterShor Are you suggesting that you cannot put "a" before video evidence? – user140086 Oct 8 '15 at 19:37
  • @PeterShor -- So, are you saying that 'have recieved' is incorrect in standard US and UK English ? – iamRR Oct 8 '15 at 19:47
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    @Rathony: You cannot put "a" before video evidence. The word evidence is uncountable in non-Indian English. – Peter Shor Oct 8 '15 at 20:16
  • @iamRR: I was trying to avoid stating that "have received" is incorrect. I think it's less likely, because backshifting is the default in standard US and UK English. (I have no idea how Indian English works in this respect.) But I don't think it's ungrammatical. Here is a relevant Ngram. – Peter Shor Oct 8 '15 at 20:19

Either is possible.

The teacher said the children have worked hard, or The teacher said the children had worked hard are both grammatical. Which one you use is largely dependent on how recent the 'working hard' has been, and how soon after the teacher said it that the speaker is reporting it.

Let's say the children are still in the classroom, picking up their belongings and I am speaking to another parent in the corridor - then have would seem better.

However if I am reporting it to my wife when I get home with my child, I might well say The teacher told me they had worked hard.

  • What if you use 'have worked' while reporting to your wife when you get home, will it be grammatically correct then ? Let's say the teacher said,"Children have worked hard". A day later I happen to report teacher's words as 'The teacher said children have worked hard'. In this context, is it right to use 'have worked' ? – iamRR Oct 9 '15 at 11:36
  • @Mari-Lou A : I'm afraid I did not ask any unconcerned question. I'm asking because I have few doubts regarding his answer. – iamRR Oct 9 '15 at 11:53
  • @iamRR Long winded comments discussions are discouraged here. You can join me in a chat room to discuss more on this. Please avoid asking questions within comments. – Mamta D Oct 9 '15 at 12:02
  • @Mamta D : How do I reach out to you on chat ? – iamRR Oct 9 '15 at 12:09
  • Join ell.stackexchange.com and then look for the chat room on the right. – Mamta D Oct 9 '15 at 12:10

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