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Questions tagged [backshifting]

The changing of a present tense in direct speech to a past tense in reported speech

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15 views

Adjective + the present/past [duplicate]

Would you please consider the following: Riana (WAS/IS) so quick a thinker that she decided to dodge left when the knife was swung to her. My question: Riana is still alive and her being ...
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1answer
80 views

Which is the correct tense: “earth was/is round”? [duplicate]

Maybe it's very simple but I'm wondering which one is correct. Google search has showed me both forms are used. "He said the earth was round." "He said the earth is round."
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1answer
100 views

Difference in meaning between: “his son will return” and “his son would return” [duplicate]

The hope is that his son will/would return. What’s the difference in meaning of the sentence when will and would are used one at a time? Should we use only would inasmuch as hope is only ...
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3answers
159 views

What type of if-conditional is: “A shop offered us a reduction if we paid in cash.”?

What type of if-conditional is this sentence? A shop offered us a reduction if we paid in cash. As far as I know, the only right conditional sentences are these four: Zero Conditional: A shop ...
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2answers
98 views

What is the Holocaust, or what was the Holocaust?

I am writing a piece of history coursework about the Holocaust. One of the section titles is What is the Holocaust, or What was the Holocaust? Could somebody please confirm which of these two is ...
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0answers
67 views

Is this an example of indirect speech?

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 ...
3
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2answers
144 views

Which tense is correct? “Bob wanted to know if he is/was a father”

Bob wants to know if he is a father or not. A day later, Bob learns that he's a father. Then three years passes. Now which of the following is correct and why? Three years ago, Bob wanted to ...
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1answer
128 views

Why isn't it “had handed” in “the girl alleged that her mother handed her over”?

In the following reported speech: The girl alleged that her mother handed her over to a pimp and was taking Rs 40,000 from him every month. — Times of India Newspaper, 1st May 2018 Why is it ...
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1answer
722 views

Reported speech with “never”, which one is correct? [closed]

Direct speech: “I never lose my books”. Which one is correct in Indirect speech: “He said he never lost his books.” or “He said he never loses his books.” ?
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3answers
101 views

Verb tense for anticipated future in the context of now-discarded hypothetical past

Further to discussion regarding this ELL answer... I [had] assumed I would go to Heaven when I die/died, but when I think about all the wicked things I've done, I'm now pretty sure I'll go to Hell [...
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1answer
66 views

“Backshifting” in English

Can anyone please tell me if there is any need to backshift the tense? Here is the example: Yesterday, as a consultant I went to meet my friend Peter who has been found guilty of fraud. He claimed ...
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2answers
769 views

Modal verbs in reporting

'Advanced Grammar In Use' (AGU) by Martin Hewings, UNIT 37 C, says: The verbs could, would, should, might, needn't, ought to, used to, and could have, should have, etc. don't change in the report: ...
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1answer
456 views

“How could I” and “how could I have” in rhetorical questions

I have a question about using could and could have in rhetorical questions. I was watching a video where a very old man who was talking to a priest about his childhood asked the priest, “How could I ...
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2answers
183 views

Conditional clause

Yo, is this sentence correct? It's hard to find a guide that speaks directly to this use of the subjunctive: I realized that this issue needed more active contemplation, were I to find any closure. ...
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4answers
302 views

What’s the right inflection for the bracketed verb in “He asked what time the train [was/will/be] leaving”? [duplicate]

I was conducting a language assessment test when I was asked to fill out a clause: He asked what time the train [ was / will / be] leaving. I would have chosen be to form a subjunctive clause, had ...
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1answer
770 views

Should go/will go/will be going?

This question was in a test so please choose one of the answers given in the question. The coach said that they _________ to the gym every day next week to get in shape for the tournament game. 1) ...
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2answers
5k views

So that I can vs So that I may [duplicate]

In the cases below, do I always have to use 'may' instead of 'can'? Both sound correct to me however, I had read explanations that said that 'may' should be used after 'so that'. I came earlier so ...
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1answer
162 views

Indirect Speech - Tense Shifting [duplicate]

In this quoted example, is it okay to shift verb tenses mid-sentence? Background: The narration is written in present tense. The narrator is referencing something that was said in the past, but the ...
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2answers
356 views

Tense simplification in subordinate clauses - past perfect instead of would have

in Michael Swan's "Practical English Usage" he states in the entry 580.6 ("past instead of would ..."): "would, like will, is avoided in subordinate clauses; instead, we generally use past verbs". He ...
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2answers
379 views

Tenses - Reported speech WITHIN a conditional clause

If we would like to express a conditional statement about a present fact as in "Can you go outside today? - I don't know yet, I need my parents' approval first" Are these sentences correct? ...
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3answers
435 views

Indirect speech, tense shift in clauses of second degree

I'm reading Hunger Games. Katniss and Peeta are being prepared for the Arena by special instructors. The plant instructor says: Avoid berries unless you are 100 percent sure they aren't toxic. How ...
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1answer
206 views

Using the word “if” without having to use the word “then”

Is it acceptable to use the word "if" in the following reflection as in an oblique suspicion and not have to use the word "then"? One question is: with all the money he has saved so far in not ...
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1answer
687 views

Present perfect vs. Past perfect tense used in newspaper story [closed]

I've been asking a lot about backshifting of tenses for quite some time and I have come across many articles/blogs where this so-called rule is not always followed unlike notable grammar books. For ...
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1answer
115 views

Backshift with a past continuous

Is it correct when using reported speech to say: Jan said that on the weekend she cycled and went hiking rather than Jan said that on the weekend she cycled and had gone hiking? Tks Jan
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1answer
2k views

Past continuous reporting verb in indirect speech [duplicate]

In indirect speech if the reporting verb is in past tense, then the verb in subordinate clause will also be in past tense. Ex- He said that he was going to see movie. What tense will be used in ...
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5answers
272 views

Are the tenses used in the sentence correct?

From http://dilbert.com/strip/2015-07-31: I'm going to call you Carlos from now on. And it would help if you grew a beard and walked with a limp. Shouldn't it be grow a beard and walk with a limp ...
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3answers
4k views

To tell the name of a person I met in the past

I have a basic grammar question about the past tense. If I met a guy yesterday, which tense should I use about his name today? For example, "Yesterday I met a guy, his name is/was John."
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3answers
287 views

Grammar: Did Jim ask you whether you are a virgin? VS Did Jim ask you whether you were a virgin? [duplicate]

How do I form a question based on the following details: At 1pm on Sunday Jim: Are you a virgin? Jane: Yes nothing happened from 1pm to 9pm At 9pm on Sunday: Did Jim ask you whether you were a ...
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2answers
818 views

When is “backshifting” optional?

In reported speech, tenses are generally backshifted. If what was said is still true at the time of reporting then back shifting is optional. My question is, if someone doesn't backshift the tense ...
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0answers
41 views

optional backshifting [duplicate]

I have been asking a lot about optional back shifting. I understand that if what is said is still true at the time of reporting then back shifting of tense is optional. I just have one doubt. If what ...
2
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2answers
3k views

I received an email saying documents are /were [duplicate]

I received an email saying that the documents are/were being processed. Which is correct? Are or were?
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2answers
1k views

Using Past-tense or Present-tense for verbs

I found a perfect example on the internet about what I am trying to ask. Take a look at this: "Mr. Dilger wants to see you." Mr. Bruce went on to say. "It's about the same thing. I thought I'd ...
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1answer
3k views

I have forgotten what you look/looked like

Which one is correct? I have forgotten what you look like. I have forgotten what you looked like. I guess I have forgotten what you looked like. because logically I saw the ...
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2answers
350 views

When to use the present or the past perfect tense?

A few days back, I asked a question - why in reported speech is the present perfect tense sometimes not back shifted to the past perfect tense ? For example: He said that he has painted the door. ...
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1answer
383 views

sentence structure and sequence of tense

In sentence structure of indirect speech like - (He said +........... , He informed +....... , He claimed + .......... ), I am aware that if the situation is still relevant then back shifting of ...
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1answer
474 views

sequence of tenses (optional and obligatory back shifting )

Consider a sentence: 1) The president learned that the earthquake has caused havoc all across the country. Here present perfect tense is used. First tell me is it correct to use 'has caused' ? I ...
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3answers
547 views

present perfect vs past perfect [closed]

What's the difference between the following examples: I noticed that the clock had stopped. I noticed that the clock has stopped. Some of them say that if the emphasis is laid on the ...
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1answer
11k views

Reported speech in news articles [duplicate]

In reported speech we generally back shift the tense. But why in news articles do I often see that this guideline is violated? For ...
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2answers
328 views

It was unclear that she has/had painted the door

The grammar rule says that if the verb in the main clause is in the past tense then the verbs in the subordinate clauses will also be in the corresponding past tense. According to the grammar rule ...
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1answer
1k views

I asked + present/past tense

Consider the examples: "My name is Ricky." He said his name is Ricky. The tense is not backshifted in #2 because his name is and will always be Ricky. Also consider: Ricky says: "I live in Paris." ...
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1answer
2k views

Optional tense back shifting [duplicate]

While changing direct to indirect speech, we generally back shift the tense. Example - "I have finished my work." (Direct speech) He said that he had finished his work. (Indirect speech)...
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4answers
1k views

Problem with backshift in reporting clauses

This is the subject that's been bugging me for quite some time now, even though I believe I've managed to grasp the entire reported speech pretty well. If I want to repeat to someone what I ...
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1answer
234 views

verb tense in reported speech

I told Cindy we would not be able to eat American Chinese food again for a couple of years, once we moved to Shanghai. I told Cindy we would not be able to eat American Chinese food again for a ...
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0answers
201 views

Does the tense in that clause need to agree with the main clause? [duplicate]

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: She told me that the earth is ...
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1answer
863 views

Dependent clause tense inheritance [duplicate]

Is it right to tell Five years ago he already knew that two plus two equals four. or Five years ago he already knew that two plus two equaled four. ? On English classes (I live in ...
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1answer
683 views

sentence structure of past-future pattern

How can I make a sentence , in which I am talking about past with the reference of future? I mean,what is the sentence structure of past-future sentence. for example. * I reached at London two ...
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2answers
12k views

'wanted' or 'had wanted'

Should I use wanted or had wanted here? Ukrainians wanted to join the EU even before Russia occupied the Crimea and the Eastern Ukraine. Ukrainians had wanted to join the EU even before ...
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4answers
2k views

Reported speech - questions

In the Cambridge Grammar of the English Language; Huddleston and Pullum 2002, they make the following qualifying comment: ... reported speech covers the reporting of spoken and written text but ...
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3answers
966 views

Is the concept of “backshifted past tense” in reported speech applicable to other types of subordinate clauses?

BACKGROUND Cambridge Grammar of the English Language has this portion regarding backshift on page 154: Backsift not confined to indirect reported speech We introduced a concept of a ...
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2answers
514 views

Use of 'would' in place of the past simple

They left the house at 6 and would reach Edinburgh 12 hours later. (= .............. and they reached Edinburgh 12 hours later.) This is from a famous grammar book. I don't understand how 'reached' ...