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A colleague of mine wrote this sentence- Anne Frank is a posthumously recognised young writer.

I say 'is' should be replaced with 'was'.

My reason- the meaning of the sentence should not change after the removal of the adverb. Her reason- 'posthumously' makes it certain that it happened in the past, and therefore 'was' will be redundant My reason- 'posthumously' means 'after her death', so the recognition could have been received any time in the past 70 years or so.

Would like to know what the natives think.

Thanks in advance

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    Isn't she still a posthumously recognized writer? If you said was, you would be implying that she has stopped being a posthumously recognized writer. Commented Jul 5, 2016 at 13:07
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    I'm not native, and I think that you are wrong! The verb recognize is not a verb referring to Anne; which you would say " OK, she is dead now lets change is to was!", People that they are alive and kicking right now, RECOGNIZE her as a young writer. So the "is" is correct. Commented Jul 5, 2016 at 13:14
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    The object of the verb is "a posthumously recognised young writer". And although she stopped being a writer when she was killed, she has never stopped being "a posthumously recognized young writer." Commented Jul 5, 2016 at 13:43
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    @Silenus You may be thinking of this one.
    – Jacinto
    Commented Jul 5, 2016 at 13:43
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    @TrevorD: no objections. Commented Jul 5, 2016 at 17:57

2 Answers 2

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As stated in the comments (courtesy of @PeterShor):
"The object of the verb is 'a posthumously recognised young writer'. And although she stopped being a writer when she was killed, she has never stopped being "a posthumously recognized young writer."

It follows that the correct form of the original sentence is, as originally quoted:

Anne Frank is a posthumously recognised young writer.

Although strictly correct, that form does actually sound 'awkward' to many people. I therefore suggest that it would be better to rephrase the sentence to something along the following lines (depending on context and required emphasis):

Anne Frank was a young writer who has (only) been recognised posthumously.
Anne Frank was a young writer who has been recognised (only) posthumously.
Anne Frank has been recognised (only) posthumously as a young writer.
The young writer Anne Frank has been recognised as such only posthumously.
The posthumously recognised young writer Anne Frank … .

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  • These are all better than the original two options. Commented Jul 5, 2016 at 14:19
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I'd say that the sentence is equivalent to saying "Anne Frank is/was the following things: posthumously recognised, and a young writer".

She definitely "was" a young writer - she's not a young writer now.

To say that someone is/was "posthumously recognised" has two potential meanings: either

A) she now has the status of being "posthumously recognised". Ie, "recognised" is an adjective.

B) she was, at some point in the past, after she died, (when her book became well known for example), recognised as a good writer. This is "recognised" in the verb form.

So, of the two things she's described as, one of them, "young writer", is definitely in the past, and the other "posthumously recognised" is ambiguous - it could be in the present or it could be in the past. My instinct is that it's meaning B, that she was recognised as a good writer after she died. But, that's just my opinion.

Given that you have a choice between both of the things definitely being in the past, or one thing definitely in the past and another possibly (probably, in my opinion) in the past, it seems sensible to place the whole sentence in the past tense, and say "was".

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