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1 I heard they have started a new business.

In theory, it's wrong because "have started" happens before "heard". But I know that people say it. It means that recently I heard that they have started etc.

2 I heard they started a new business.

Can mean the same as 1. But in theory, it shouldn't mean the same. I think it means what 1 means only if it happened recently. If I am talking about a long gone period of time I think it should be "I heard (then) they had started a new business. Not sure, though.
3 I have heard they have started a new business.

Means almost the same as 1. And according to the rule is very accurate. However, it's not as popular as 1 and I wonder why. I wonder how exactly 1 and 3 differ.
4 I have heard they started a new business.

Can mean the same as 1. However, I think "started" can refer either to a recent action or a long gone one.

I have heard they started a new business (recently)

I have heard they started a new business (50 years ago)
5 I hear they have started a new business.

6 I hear they started a new business.

I think 5 and 6 can mean the same. But probably 6 lends itself to twofold interpretation that is "recently" or "long ago".



I am sure I am missing something.

@Me_IV posted:

1 I heard they have started a new business.

In theory, it's wrong because "have started" happens before "heard". But I know that people say it. It means that recently I heard that they have started etc.

You are right about the meaning and wrong about its being wrong in theory; there is nothing wrong with it at all.

@Me_IV posted:


2 I heard they started a new business.

Can mean the same as 1. But in theory, it shouldn't mean the same. I think it means what 1 means only if it happened recently. If I am talking about a long gone period of time I think it should be "I heard (then) they had started a new business. Not sure, though.

Since the only possible interpretation of (2) is that the time of starting the business was before the time of hearing (the two times could not have coincided), backshifting "started" to "had started" is unnecessary. From (2), we cannot tell how recently the business was started or whether it is still going.

@Me_IV posted:

3 I have heard they have started a new business.

Means almost the same as 1. And according to the rule is very accurate. However, it's not as popular as 1 and I wonder why. I wonder how exactly 1 and 3 differ.

The difference between (3) and (1) is that, in (3), the speaker's hearing what he did is itself represented as news, not just as a past event, as it is represented in (1).

@Me_IV posted:

4 I have heard they started a new business.

Can mean the same as 1. However, I think "started" can refer either to a recent action or a long gone one.

I have heard they started a new business (recently)

I have heard they started a new business (50 years ago)

Yes.

@Me_IV posted:

5 I hear they have started a new business.

6 I hear they started a new business.

I think 5 and 6 can mean the same. But probably 6 lends itself to twofold interpretation that is "recently" or "long ago".

Yes.

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