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Thread: reported speech

  1. #1
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    Question reported speech

    How should we report the given direct speech, :Father said to us, "Your mother was beautiful and intelligent."
    Is it "Father told us that our mother was beautiful and intelligent."
    or
    "Father told us that our mother had been beautiful and intelligent."

  2. #2
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    Default Re: reported speech

    Quote Originally Posted by wynnmyintuu View Post
    How should we report the given direct speech, :Father said to us, "Your mother was beautiful and intelligent."
    Is it "Father told us that our mother was beautiful and intelligent."
    or
    "Father told us that our mother had been beautiful and intelligent."
    As your first sentence is in the past tense, it suggests that your mother is either no longer living or no longer beautiful and intelligent. If that is what you intended it to mean, your second sentence with "had been" is correct.

  3. #3
    e2e4 is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: reported speech

    A learner

    I think that I read once that if I say he was, she was, it means the person's dead.

    She was beautiful; it means she was beautiful before she died.

    Owing to what I am recalling now about the matter I think that the form below could be OK as well.

    Father told us that our mother was both intelligent and beautiful. (Before she passed away)

    The "Before she passed away" is considered redundant and left out. (Ellipsis)


  4. #4
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    Default Re: reported speech

    Quote Originally Posted by bhaisahab View Post
    As your first sentence is in the past tense, it suggests that your mother is either no longer living or no longer beautiful and intelligent. If that is what you intended it to mean, your second sentence with "had been" is correct.
    I found this very interesting and clear yet I'm not sure anymore.

    The person is still a doctor.
    He said he is a doctor.
    This is clear, but grammatically seen not correct since the tenses don't match.
    (We discussed that plenty of times here on UsingEnglish anyway.)
    He said he was a doctor.
    Now it's grammatically seen correct yet a bit ambiguous.
    Beginners (or even others) might think the person was a doctor once, but isn't a doctor anymore.
    He said he had been a doctor.
    So do you suggest to use this version?

    And what about this one:
    The person is still a teacher.
    I thought you are a teacher.
    Clear but ungrammatical.
    I thought you were a teacher.
    Grammatical but a bit
    ambiguous.
    I thought you had been a teacher.
    Perfect solution?

    bhaisahab, as said, we discussed the reported speech many times here, and I can't remember that you ever suggested to use had been for such sentences are these two.

    Cheers!

  5. #5
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    Default Re: reported speech

    Quote Originally Posted by Nightmare85 View Post
    I found this very interesting and clear yet I'm not sure anymore.

    The person is still a doctor.
    He said he is a doctor.
    This is clear, but grammatically seen not correct since the tenses don't match.
    (We discussed that plenty of times here on UsingEnglish anyway.)
    He said he was a doctor.
    Now it's grammatically seen correct yet a bit ambiguous.
    Beginners (or even others) might think the person was a doctor once, but isn't a doctor anymore.
    He said he had been a doctor.
    So do you suggest to use this version?

    And what about this one:
    The person is still a teacher.
    I thought you are a teacher.
    Clear but ungrammatical.
    I thought you were a teacher.
    Grammatical but a bit
    ambiguous.
    I thought you had been a teacher.
    Perfect solution?

    bhaisahab, as said, we discussed the reported speech many times here, and I can't remember that you ever suggested to use had been for such sentences are these two.

    Cheers!
    Imagine this:
    A asks B "What does C say?" (now) B replies "He says he is a doctor". He is a doctor and he is saying so now.
    A asks B "What did C say?" (then) B replies "He said he was a doctor". He is a doctor and he said so then.
    or:
    A asks B "What does C say? (now) B replies "He says he used to be a doctor". He is no longer a doctor and he says so now.
    A asks B "What did C say?" (then) B replies "He said he used to be a doctor." He is no longer a doctor and he said so then.
    No ambiguity.

    And what about this one:
    The person is still a teacher.
    I thought you are a teacher. Wrong.
    Clear but ungrammatical.
    I thought you were a teacher. Correct.
    Grammatical but a bit
    ambiguous.
    I thought you used to be a teacher.
    Perfect solution?

  6. #6
    Nightmare85's Avatar
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    Default Re: reported speech

    Quote Originally Posted by bhaisahab View Post
    Imagine this:
    A asks B "What does C say?" (now) B replies "He says he is a doctor". He is a doctor and he is saying so now.
    A asks B "What did C say?" (then) B replies "He said he was a doctor". He is a doctor and he said so then.
    or:
    A asks B "What does C say? (now) B replies "He says he used to be a doctor". He is no longer a doctor and he says so now.
    A asks B "What did C say?" (then) B replies "He said he used to be a doctor." He is no longer a doctor and he said so then.
    No ambiguity.

    And what about this one:
    The person is still a teacher.
    I thought you are a teacher. Wrong.
    Clear but ungrammatical.
    I thought you were a teacher. Correct.
    Grammatical but a bit
    ambiguous.
    I thought you used to be a teacher.
    Perfect solution?
    Okay but:
    Father told us that our mother was beautiful and intelligent.
    You said:
    Quote Originally Posted by bhaisahab
    As your first sentence is in the past tense, it suggests that your mother is either no longer living or no longer beautiful and intelligent.
    But then it should be:
    Father told us that our mother used to be beautiful and intelligent.

    I cannot see the difference between my example sentences and this one...

    Cheers!

  7. #7
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    Default Re: reported speech

    Can someone clarify this, please?

    I'm very interested in this topic.

    Cheers!

  8. #8
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    Default Re: reported speech

    Quote Originally Posted by e2e4 View Post
    A learner

    I think that I read once that if I say he was, she was, it means the person's dead.

    She was beautiful; it means she was beautiful before she died.

    Owing to what I am recalling now about the matter I think that the form below could be OK as well.

    Father told us that our mother was both intelligent and beautiful. (Before she passed away)

    The "Before she passed away" is considered redundant and left out. (Ellipsis)

    No, 'was' doesn't imply 'dead'.
    It could also mean she was beautiful when she was young, but isn't now. She was intelligent before she developed Alzheimer's Disease ...

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