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I wrote:

School starts in August next year? I thought it started in September.

I proposed that this is one good example of how grammar can confuse people because a preterite (started) is used to talk about the future.

She replied that it's an example of tense shift in indirect speech.

Is it?

I didn't think so originally. But I can see how I thought x can be conceptualized as a reporting of one's own (inner) speech.

Does the utterance contain indirect speech? Yes, no, sometimes/maybe?

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    No, Jim. Not at all; never, ever. However correct your analysis of the stated example in its own right, that will never have anything to do with direct or indirect speech. Is that much clear? – Robbie Goodwin Sep 6 '18 at 19:58
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    More… Direct speech would suggest “School starts in August next year? I thought it started in September…”. That has nothing to do with grammar, semantics or syntax; it’s simply what was actually said. The same in indirect speech would be, eg, “someone said that school started in August next year? I thought it started in September…”. Still nothing to do with grammar, semantics or syntax; it’s simply what was loosely reported as having been said. None of that is any example of how grammar can confuse people, however much you yourself were confused. – Robbie Goodwin Sep 6 '18 at 20:05

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