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Non-native speakers learning how to report what they have heard are often taught a complex set of 'rules' that involve concepts such as backshifting and the sequence of tenses. But the changes in tense, if any, that native speakers make in reporting speech are natural and logical. Clause by clause they use the tenses that represent their interpretation of ...


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It depends on when he actually said that in direct speech. Present He says: -While I am watching television, the light goes out. He says: -While I was watching television, the light went out. Past He said: -While I am watching television, the light goes out. He said: -While I was watching television, the light went out. Now indirect ...


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No, they're not right. But in your example, "He said that while he was watching television, the light (went/had gone) out.", the choice compatible with the sequence-of-tenses rule is "went", not "had gone". The light going out is contemporaneous with the watching of TV, so they are reported using the same tense: "was watching" and "went out". You'd only ...


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When I wrote my question last night I didn't realise that the tense of "will" should be, and in this case can be consistent with the tense of "move". It is true the impossibility of eating American Chinese food (I crave General Tso's chicken) will occur in the future. I feel now more comfortable saying "I told Cindy that we will not..., once we move...".


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Yes, judging from the way it works for me, anyway, "move" in the example is not grammatical. If it were a direct quote, it would approximate: I told Cindy: "We will not be able to eat American Chinese food again for a couple of years, once we move to Shanghai." When it is converted to indirect discourse, the verbs shift tense to agree with the past ...



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