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Is "Sally asked what you were doing." correct?

It couldn't possibly be "Sally asked what I was doing." right?

Thanks.

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Both the sentences are correct.

If Sally’s question was directed to me, and if I were to report the speech indirectly, it would be "Sally asked what I was doing."

If Sally’s question was directed to a third person, and if I were to report the speech indirectly, I would say "Sally asked what you were doing," if I were addressing that same third person, or otherwise "Sally asked what he(she/they) was(were) doing."

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    Either sentence may be correct (or may not, as your second paragraph notes), but both cannot be. – Tim Lymington supports Monica Jul 8 '14 at 17:46
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It depends on whom Sally is addressing. For example, Sally may have asked me (i.e. Matt), What are you doing? If I were to then report on her speech (maybe to a friend Bob), I would say Sally asked what I was doing.

On the other hand, perhaps I was present to hear Sally ask Harry What are you doing? If, again, I were to report on this to Bob, I would say Sally asked what he was doing. But if I were to report on it to Harry, I would say Sally asked what you were doing.

Thus, if I am the object of inquiry (the you in What are you doing?), I phrase the question indirectly as Sally asked what I was doing. If a second person is the object of inquiry, and I'm reporting the question to them, I say Sally asked what you were doing. And if a second person is the object of inquiry and I'm reporting the question to a third person, I say Sally asked what he/she was doing.

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1) "What are you doing", asked Sally? Ask as an intransitive verb. (Or "What is he doing", etc.)

As per the dictionary (Merriam Webster, for example) ask can mean utter or speak, as in ask a question. It needn't take an indirect object.

Indirect speech, then becomes:

  • Sally asked what you were doing.
  • Sally asked what he was doing.

ask as utter or speak

2) "What are you doing", Sally asked me? For ask as a transitive verb.

Here, indirect speech is:

  • Sally asked me what I was doing.
  • Sally asked us what we were doing.
  • Sally asked them what they were doing.
  • Sally asked you what you were doing.

So, with an indirect object, it could be: asked: me, them, her/him, you or us.

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