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I came across a sports article which reads,

Twenty of the 22 players who played in the inaugural day-night Test felt the pink ball needs more refinement.

Why is there 'need'? Shouldn't it be 'needed' instead ?

Could you tell me when to use present tense or past tense is such situations?

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  • It should be needed here. "20 of the 22 players who played in the inaugural day-night test felt that the pink ball needed more refinement"
    – v kumar
    Dec 10 '15 at 7:04
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It's informal. It's wrong. Some people talk, and even write, like that. But it's still wrong. The correct way of putting it would be:

Twenty of the twenty-two players who played in the inaugural day-night Test felt the pink ball needed more refinement.

(It's either 20 of the 22, or twenty of the twenty-two. One needs to be consistent. No pun intended).

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  • I mean, it likely still needs said refinement. Pink balls don't get refined so quickly. That said, it's iffy that the people quoted meant their quotes to be taken as correct at press time, so I definitely agree it should be needed. I just don't think it's incorrect on principle. Dec 10 '15 at 8:36
  • @modulusshift: It is incorrect in principle.
    – Ricky
    Dec 10 '15 at 8:46
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    @modulusshift: My views are my own. I do find it counterproductive to encourage illiterates. In this epoch of aggressive anti-intellectualism things get out of control easily. The right to take a cavalier approach to tenses needs to be earned. An aspiring composer absolutely needs to get his scales down pat before he's allowed to improvise.
    – Ricky
    Dec 10 '15 at 9:21
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    What exactly is the rule that makes it wrong? I'm asking quite seriously. My gut feeling is that "needs" is perfectly, because they felt (in the past, at the time this happened) that the ball needs improvement (that is, that its state was and presumably still is "needing improvement"). If the ball had been refined between those events and now, only needed would be appropriate, but if the state of the ball has not changed, it still needs improvement. But I acknowledge that this could just be informal use.
    – stangdon
    Dec 10 '15 at 15:53
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    RE: It's either 20 of the 22, or twenty of the twenty-two. One needs to be consistent. No pun intended. I love the pun, but there's an exception that applies: Spell out a number at the beginning of a sentence. (This article, for example, espouses that rule.) That's not to say that your advice is wrong, but I think the author could justify the original version, too.
    – J.R.
    Dec 10 '15 at 16:06
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This is incorrect. Remember that you're time shifting the feeling to the time you mentioned it. It's possible that the pink ball has been refined between the time the questions were asked and the time the article was published. The most you can claim is that the pink ball needed refinement at the time.

If it was an implicit or explicit quote, using said or told, then you are free to use the tense they would have used. In addition, if little time has passed, it could be appropriate to keep it in the present tense.

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  • In regards to your first sentence, you should be a little more clear about what is incorrect here: Is it the original quote? Or the O.P.'s query about, "Shouldn't it be needed instead?"
    – J.R.
    Dec 10 '15 at 21:11

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