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    #1

    Tenses are so confusing.

    A guy asked me if I was a Chinese or a Korean. I told him I was a Chinese but I should have told him I was a Korean.

    A guy asked me if I am a Chinese or a Korean. I told him I am a Chinese but I should have told him I am a Korean.

    Which one is correct and what's the difference? Thanks a lot!

  1. 5jj's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Tenses are so confusing.

    Quote Originally Posted by angryinch View Post
    A guy asked me if I was a Chinese or a Korean. I told him I was a Chinese but I should have told him I was a Korean.

    A guy asked me if I am a Chinese or a Korean. I told him I am a Chinese but I should have told him I am a Korean.
    When we report speech, we usually shift the tenses in the original speech back into the past. However, if the situation spoken of originally is still true, then we can, but don't have to, backshift. So, both of your sentences are possible.

    With many nationalities, we normally use the adjective (Chinese) rather than the noun (a Chinese).

  2. sumon.'s Avatar
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    #3

    Re: Tenses are so confusing.

    but don't have to, backshift.
    Hi Mr.5jj
    Could you please describe this part of the sentence shortly?
    I understand what you meant but not the sentence pattern. Why is the comma used after have to before back-shift .

    Thank you

  3. bhaisahab's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: Tenses are so confusing.

    Quote Originally Posted by sumon. View Post
    Hi Mr.5jj
    Could you please describe this part of the sentence shortly?
    I understand what you meant but not the sentence pattern. Why is the comma used after have to before back-shift .

    Thank you
    "but don't have to" is in parenthesis, if you remove it, the sentence still makes sense. Does that help you to understand?

  4. 5jj's Avatar
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    #5

    Re: Tenses are so confusing.

    Quote Originally Posted by sumon. View Post
    I understand what you meant but not the sentence pattern. Why is the comma used after have to before back-shift .
    Think of the commas as brackets:

    However, if the situation spoken of originally is still true, then we can (but don't have to) backshift.

    = However, if the situation spoken of originally is still true, then we can backshift, but we don't have to .

  5. sumon.'s Avatar
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    #6

    Re: Tenses are so confusing.

    Quote Originally Posted by bhaisahab View Post
    "but don't have to" is in parenthesis, if you remove it, the sentence still makes sense. Does that help you to understand?
    Yes, now I understand. Thank you,Bhaisahab.

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