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I don't know if the title of this question is accurate or not. My vacabulary of grammar is very limited. May you could understand me by the following example:

  1. She told me that the earth is moving around the sun.

  2. She told me that the earth was moving around the sun.

Which one is correct? Should the tense in that clause always agree with the tense in main clause?

marked as duplicate by FumbleFingers, Edwin Ashworth, tchrist, Peter Shor , Drew Jan 26 '15 at 3:55

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  • They're both fine, but moves, moved or goes, went are probably more likely. – FumbleFingers Jan 25 '15 at 18:27
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    There is no tense agreement rule in English. So the answer is No. – John Lawler Jan 25 '15 at 18:38
  • Well, there is actually a tense agreement rule in English, but it only applies to the tense in a that-clause which is in the semantic scope of the past tense of the matrix sentence. In the example given, if the speaker didn't wish to take responsibility for the truth of "the earth revolves about the sun", he could use "was revolving" to place responsibility on her (the person whose speech is being reported). – Greg Lee Jan 25 '15 at 18:59
  • @Greg Lee, would you backshift in this way? "He was explaining to me that the earth had been revolving around the sun, when the Dominicans broke the door down and carted him away? – TRomano Jan 25 '15 at 19:21
  • @TRomano, that's an interesting example. I don't know. – Greg Lee Jan 25 '15 at 19:24