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  1. #1
    keannu's Avatar
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    Default I told her "I don't smoke"

    My grammar book says if the past's state is still true in the present in the direct speech, in the reported speech converted, both present tense and past tense are possible.
    But I think if you say "I told her that I didn't smoke", it may be true only in the past not in the present(I smoked only in the past, not in the present), even though "I told that I don't smoke" can mean "I still don't smoke even now". Eveything is dependent on the context, but I'm curious about the general feeling when you hear them. What do you think?

    ex)I told her "I don't smoke" => I told her that I don't(didn't) smoke.(in case of still smoking in the present)
    Last edited by keannu; 03-Feb-2012 at 23:03.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: I told her "I don't smoke"

    What I think is rhat everything depends on the context!

  3. #3
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    Default Re: I told her "I don't smoke"

    Quote Originally Posted by keannu View Post
    ... I'm curious about the general feeling when you hear them. What do you think?
    As I have suggested before, native speakers rarely analyse what they say and hear in normal conversation -they are interested in the communication, not in the means of communication.

    If you secretly recorded an informal conversation and then studied it carefully, you would be amazed at how incoherent it seemed to be. People rarely complete sentences, change from one construction to another before the first is finished, and make all sorts of errors that they woud not make in a seious piece of writing.

    Serious novelists or playwrights might agonise over the selection of the right word or tense, and it is legitimate for students to analysise the resulting constructions, but there is normally little point in wondering how people react to constructions in speech.
    Last edited by Tdol; 04-Feb-2012 at 10:48. Reason: Quote tag fixed

  4. #4
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Default Re: I told her "I don't smoke"

    If someone said I told her that I didn't smoke, I would take them to be a non-smoker unless the wider context suggested otherwise.

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