Many comments on the use of English amount to little more than the expression of personal preferences and dislikes. We are all, of course, entitled to have them, but it’s a different matter when those who express them insist that their predilections represent The Only True Way, and try to impose them on the rest of us.
I, too, have my irrational prejudices, but I don’t pretend they’re holy writ. I’m not alone. In ‘The Language Instinct’, Steven Pinker confesses his distaste for the use of disinterested to mean ‘apathetic’ (see Caxton’s discussion here). But he redems himself with:
Every component of a language changes over time, and at any moment a language is enduring many losses. But since the human mind does not change over time, the richness of a language is always being replenished.’
I have already mentioned one of my bugaboos, the use of ‘deliver’ to mean ‘provide’. I have taken care to record that my objection to it has no basis in etymology or usage (oh, if only others would do the same).
Here’s another, and it’s in the ‘I was always taught’ category. When direct speech is reported, certain changes occur. If someone says I’m tired, another person reporting what was said will turn it into She said she was tired. I becomes she and ‘m becomes was. The first person pronoun becomes the third person pronoun, and the tense is shifted backwards. As the ‘Longman Student Grammar of Spoken and Written English’ (LSGSWE) has it:
The original speech or thoughts may have been in present tense, but past tense is usually used for the reports.
Notice that the circumstances may still be continuing even though past tense is used.
Precisely. In my example, although was is past tense, she may actually still be tired at the time I’m speaking, so we don’t need to say She said she’s tired.
But lo, the LSGSWE also says:
Although this use of past tense in reported speech is common, reported speech also occurs with other tenses. Consider these examples:
She said she feels good now.
Graham said the owls’ messy habit makes them the ideal bird for the study.
Here, the reporting verb (said) is in the past tense, but the verb in the indirect quote remains in the present tense, emphasizing that the circumstances expressed by feels and makes are still continuing.