Consider the examples:

    1. "My name is Ricky."
    1. He said his name is Ricky.

The tense is not backshifted in #2 because his name is and will always be Ricky. Also consider:

    1. Ricky says: "I live in Paris."
    1. Ricky said that he lives in Paris.

The tense is not backshifted in #4 because he still lives in Paris.

For examples #2 and #4, it is possible to not backshift the tense because the reporting words are still true at the time of reporting, but what will you say about the following examples:

  1. I asked what his name is.
  2. I asked where he lives.

Here, is it correct for #5 and #6 to not backshift the tense?

If #5 and #6 are correct, then under what conditions is it correct to not backshift the verb like that?

  • 1
    I'll let the grammarians and experts tell you why (aka I honestly can't justify it), but both a and b are cast, almost universally, in the past tense: I asked him what his name was; I asked him where he lived.
    – Dan Bron
    May 2, 2015 at 23:07
  • 1
    You have been asking a lot of questions concerning the topic of backshift. If you search via the backshifting tag, you'll probably find the info that you are looking for. Good luck! :)
    – F.E.
    May 3, 2015 at 0:01
  • I looked into it but I have seen some mixed replies which has caused more confusion. I'd really appreciate if you could explain me in brief. Thanks
    – iamRR
    May 3, 2015 at 1:15
  • @ F.E. I'm attaching a link. Please share your words on it Link : english.stackexchange.com/questions/243066/… I have gone through almost every backshifting tag but this question really boggles my mind. I'd appreciate if I could get a reply.
    – iamRR
    May 3, 2015 at 5:05
  • I wasn't getting any pings for your messages. That's because your addressing to me is not quite right. You need to use "@F.E." -- If you enter '@' and then 'F', the software will fill in the rest of my userid, which you can then select (by tabling?). -- Look for "backshifting" tag with my userid for some decent posts on the subject.
    – F.E.
    May 3, 2015 at 6:45

1 Answer 1

  1. I asked what his name is.
  2. I asked where he lives.

These work fine. When I have asked someone a question recently, then I am comfortable using the present tense. I'll paint you a picture. My son and I go to the library. We see an acquaintance from a little bit of a distance. My son goes over to say hi. When he comes back, he excitedly reports, "I asked him what his name is, and you're not going to believe it, but it's the same as my brother so-and-so, only he spells it differently. And I asked him where he lives, and it turns out he lives right around the corner from us!"

  • So the use of present tense does not depend on if his name is still the same or if he still lives in same place at the time of reporting. Rather it depends on how recently you are reporting. Is that what you mean ?
    – iamRR
    May 3, 2015 at 8:08
  • Yes, that is my intuitive sense about this. Rationalization: the recentness makes the name and address less likely to have changed. May 3, 2015 at 8:14
  • "@aparente001" Could I get a reply on the question. Link : english.stackexchange.com/questions/243066/…
    – iamRR
    May 3, 2015 at 15:42
  • @iamRR I wrote an answer, hope it helps. May 3, 2015 at 21:19
  • 1
    Let's say today I happen to meet Mr X and he asks "Where do you live?". I reply " I live in India ". A month later if I still live in India then why can't I report as : "MrX asked me where I live." ? A month later is not a recent report but what if I still live in India.? Please help me out.
    – iamRR
    May 5, 2015 at 2:09

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