Is it correct to say the following sentence:

A week ago I went to the shops to buy some butter and all of a sudden I saw that ‘two men are walking towards me’.

Here I used ‘are’ because the statement is inside the inverted commas. The same concept which is used in direct speech. Such as:

John said to Kate, “I am hungry”.

So is it correct to use 'are' in the aforementioned scenario?

  • 2
    Not to be picky, just trying to help: butter is an uncountable noun so 'a butter' should be either 'some butter' or 'a unit of butter'... Same rule that applies to other substances like water.
    – user263399
    Sep 10 '15 at 15:43

I saw that ‘two men are walking towards me’.

That is incorrect. It's wrong for more than one reason

  1. You would not say: John said to Kate that “I am hungry”.

So we should remove the word 'that'.

  1. I saw "Two men are walking towards me".

That is marginally better but not at all idiomatic because 'to see' is a subjective experience whereas quotes are used when relating an experience.

So you could say

I saw two men walking towards me.


I thought to myself, "Two men are walking towards me".

or stretching things

I realised, "Two men are walking towards me".

  • 1
    A question that should be on ELL really ought not to be answered here: it sends the wrong message, and deos not help the OP in any but the most individual sense.
    – TimLymington
    Sep 10 '15 at 15:09
  • @chaslyfromUK :What about the sentence : A week ago I was sleeping and when I woke up I noticed "The clock is not working." SO, is this sentence idiomatically correct ?
    – iamRR
    Sep 10 '15 at 15:55
  • No it's not idiomatic. The only reason I entertained I realised, "Two men..." is that it could be interpreted as an internal dialog. I don't see any way that I noticed can describe a dialog. The only exception I can think of is if you saw a sign or note with the words, "The clock is not working." written on it. Sep 10 '15 at 16:01

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