In an indirect speech back shifting of tense is optional if what is said is still true. For example -- Kate said that she is not well. ( Here non change in tense because Kate is still not well at the time of reporting.)

My question is -- Is back shifting optional in non reported speech as well ? Such as "Kate found that the shop is closed." (Is this sentence correct if the shop is still closed at the time of reporting. ?)

  • @PeterShor -- Yeah, in a way its somewhat duplicate to it. But I urge you to answer it. – iamRR May 17 '15 at 18:13
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    The answer is that this is the wrong question. There are hundreds of possible combinations of clauses, and no "backshifting" rule in English describes all of them. Consequently the presupposition that there is such a rule is wrong. No matter what your English teacher told you. One should think of sequence-of-tenses rules as a "serving suggestion" like the pictures they put on canned food, rather than the "contents". There are lots of ways to serve clauses, and some of them work like the suggestion, but many -- with a bad enough rule, most -- of them don't. – John Lawler May 17 '15 at 18:22
  • What is back shifting? – Blessed Geek May 17 '15 at 19:44

Yes, backshifting is optional both in reported speech and in cases like your example, as long as the subordinate clause is still true and is relevant to the present.

  • Thanks a lot for your reply. And what would you say about - " The president learned that the earthquake has caused havoc all across the country." Is the usage 'has caused' correct under the condition that effects of earthquake can still be seen or felt ? – iamRR May 17 '15 at 19:11
  • I think that's fine, too. Of course, the condition "relevant to the present" is vague enough that many cases will be up to the judgment of the speaker. – Peter Shor May 17 '15 at 19:13
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    The OP keeps repeating the same question over and over again. english.stackexchange.com/questions/245346/… and english.stackexchange.com/questions/245492/… – Mari-Lou A May 17 '15 at 19:30
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    And the OP has asked you the same question in the comments but on a different question english.stackexchange.com/questions/245318/… – Mari-Lou A May 17 '15 at 19:38
  • @iamRR I've already answered the earthquake question and you have accepted the answer. You must stop posting the same question over and over again. Heed Professor Lawler's advice. – Andrew Leach May 19 '15 at 6:08

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