6

I was doing a research on some scientific topic, and while I was at it I just read the excerpt wikipedia gives about Persian wikipedia:

The Persian Wikipedia (Persian: ویکی‌پدیا، دانشنامهٔ آزاد‎ Vikipedia, Daneshnameye Azad / "Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia") is the Persian language version of Wikipedia, spelled Vikipedia. The Persian version of Wikipedia was started in December 2003. It passed 1,000 articles on December 16, 2004 and 200,000 articles on July 10, 2012.The article about Persian wikipedia

Second, I have a tendency to speak to myself in English. That's because I'm crazy. That's a nice way to practice speaking, as you always have yourself available to speak to. Anyways, later I was thinking about what it could mean "to pronounce vikipedia" and I realized that it's because we pronounce wikipedia not like /w/ as in worm, but /v/ as in vest. That was when the question occurred to me:

Wikipedia actually had a nice point.

vs.

Wikipedia actually has a nice point.

I saw the excerpt, but it is still there. Wikipedia has a nice point if anyone goes and sees the excerpt again, but had a nice point when I read [past tense] it.

The question is, which one would be sounding more normal to a native? Or are they equally correct in these situations?


I couldn't find a dup. If this is, feel free to inform me.

  • Wikipedia actually had a nice point = past tense. Wikipedia actually has a nice point = present tense. Does Wikipedia still have a nice point? Or did it only have a nice point in the past? – Mark Feb 10 '15 at 17:02
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    True, but I'm talking about an incident in the past, an observation that was done and finished. "Wikipedia actually has a nice point." is giving me this implication that I'm looking at the webpage right now, while I'm not. – M.A.R. Feb 10 '15 at 17:05
  • Except in idiomatic English, texts make a good point, or made a good point. – user6951 Feb 10 '15 at 19:13
6

Both are correct.


Very often, we refer in the present tense to statements made in the past, to suggest that the conversation is still in progress—that the idea is still relevant, still worth considering, still worth responding to.

For example, this way of talking is very common when talking about philosophy:

Plato denies that concrete things are fully real, but Aristotle says that only concrete things exist.

You could just as easily say it in the past tense, but then you sound a little more like you're talking about history than about a philosophical question of interest to anyone at any time.

Plato makes a nice point that any real triangle that you could draw lacks the perfection of the idealized triangles that you study in geometry.

In other words, you are saying that even now, or at any time, Plato's point bears thought.


On the other hand, if what's important is just the fact that somebody said the statement in question, but the time of its relevance has passed, then the past tense is better:

Johnny Cochrane actually had a nice point that sloppy procedures had contaminated the DNA evidence.

The trial was over in 1995, so the point is no longer part of an ongoing conversation.

  • And is "spell" a mistake? – M.A.R. Feb 10 '15 at 17:18
  • @MARamezani Regarding "spell", I'm not sure! Maybe that would make another good question for ELL (or ELU). – Ben Kovitz Feb 10 '15 at 17:23
2

I would tend to use both depending on my current relation to the statement:

If I'm currently looking at the Wikipedia page and talking about it with someone, I'd say:

Wikipedia actually has a nice point.

If I'm talking about a Wikipedia article I read earlier (in the day, or last week etc), I'd make it past tense because I'm not currently looking at the article.

Wikipedia actually had a nice point.

It's can get pretty subtle as an exception can be made...

Even if you're not looking at the page but the information is still there, you can quite correctly say has. And, if the page was altered so that it no longer makes the point you would certainly use had.

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