Which one is more correct:

1) She said that she has seen a tiger.
2) She said that she had seen a tiger.

  • They mean different things. Nov 27, 2019 at 11:27
  • If she has seen a tiger, you had better take care. If she had seen a tiger, you don't need to worry. The are different time frames. Nov 27, 2019 at 11:38
  • Both are grammatical. Nov 30, 2019 at 16:18

1 Answer 1


She said that she had seen a tiger.

The version 2) (Past Simple + Past Perfect) is definitely correct, but it can mean two slightly different things: a) she saw that tiger in a particular situation some time earlier (e. g. as a part of her story about visiting the zoo) or b) she (already) had an experience of seeing a tiger (and e. g. for that reason was no more interested in going to the zoo; Past Perfect works as 'backshifted' Present Perfect here). But how to distinguish between the two senses without an additional context? It is possible for the speaker to emphasize the sense b) by using 'has seen' without backshifting to 'she said', like in your sentence 1), because she still has that experience (it can't be 'undone', so the situation is still true), almost like here (Past Simple + Present Simple):

She said the earth goes round the sun.

It's within these rules:


  • For a general truth [the example above] there is no need for backshift.
  • If a situation is still true [your case], backshift is optional.

So the version 1) is also correct:

She said that she has seen a tiger.

As mentioned in comments, it can also mean that her seeing a tiger happened just before the moment of her speaking, and that could be not just 'still true' but terribly actual (as in case 'she says she has seen').

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .