I understand when the sequence of tenses is used, but I'm confused with the next example:

He added that they do not sell any data to third parties, but that instead they listen to advertisers and do the placement themselves.


He added that they did not sell any data to third parties, but that instead they listened to advertisers and did the placement themselves.

Which one is correct? By the rules of sequence of tenses I would say the second one is correct, but the first one seems more logical to me, since "he" said something that is true in general (they didn't do that one time only, but they are always doing it).

Thank you in advance

1 Answer 1


Both are perfectly acceptable. The question arises because the sentence begins with the past tense verb: He added

With past tense verbs about what people are saying, it's possible to choose between putting all the subsequent verbs into the past tense or keeping them in the present tense. This choice generally depends on the context.

To take an example, you would say:

John said that Mary is going to the library

if Mary was still going to library.

If Mary had already gone to the library, you might say:

John said that Mary was going to the library.

The choice revolves around whether what John said was about to happen, was already happening or had already happened.

In your example, the main verb (added) is in the past tense but everything that follows remains true. It is in the present tense. So it's correct to say they do. But if you were reporting on something that had been said some time ago, you might well put the remaining clauses into the past tense and say they did..

Both are correct and idiomatic in English. The choice depends on the context and personal preference.

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