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  1. #1
    aysaa is offline Senior Member
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    Default reported speech and when

    Hi,

    English Grammar | LearnEnglish | British Council | Reported speech 1

    Past simple and past continuous tenses

    Direct speech: “I was walking down the road when I saw the accident.”

    Reported speech: He told me he had been walking down the road when he had seen the accident.

    In my opinion, it is wrong. Because it
    is ambiguous although the page says 'yes, it is right', is that right?
    It must be :
    'He told me that he was walking down the road when he saw the accident.'

    Is that right?
    Thanks...
    Last edited by aysaa; 13-Mar-2012 at 21:48.

  2. #2
    bhaisahab's Avatar
    bhaisahab is online now Moderator
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    Default Re: reported speech and when

    Quote Originally Posted by aysaa View Post
    Hi,

    English Grammar | LearnEnglish | British Council | Reported speech 1

    Past simple and past continuous tenses

    Direct speech: “I was walking down the road when I saw the accident.”

    Reported speech:
    In my opinion, it is wrong. Because it is ambiguous although the page says 'yes, it is right', is that right?
    It must be :
    'He told me that he was walking down the road when she saw the accident.'

    Is that right?
    Thanks...
    "He told me he had been walking down the road when he had seen the accident."
    This is correct. It's possible, in my opinion, to change "had seen" to "saw". Your version is incorrect. (IMO)

    Last edited by bhaisahab; 14-Mar-2012 at 09:35.

  3. #3
    aysaa is offline Senior Member
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    Default Re: reported speech and when

    Why is the sentence I have given to you wrong? I have been so confused about that. Because I have seen lots of notes about that.

    English in Valencia: grammar notes - reported speech

    Direct statements in a past tense do not always change either, because a change might alter the meaning or just make it sound confusing. For example:

    A friend is telling you about the horrible weather:
    It started raining heavily when I left work.

    This is where things get confusing:
    He said it had started raining heavily when he had left work (it sounds horrible and the sentence is almost nothing but verbs).
    He said it had started raining heavily when he left work (is wrong because it means it was already raining when he left work)
    He said it started raining heavily when he left work (is the best version because it is accurate, short, and there is no confusion because of the time context)

    Generally speaking, the past simple and continuous don't always need to be changed if:

    There is a time context which makes everything clear,


    and/or

    There is another action already using the past perfect, which might alter the meaning or make things confusing.

    PLEASE help me.. :/

  4. #4
    bhaisahab's Avatar
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    Default Re: reported speech and when

    Quote Originally Posted by aysaa View Post
    Please...
    It's a matter of opinion, some people find this OK 'He told me that he was walking down the road when he saw the accident.' as reported speech for “I was walking down the road when I saw the accident.” Others, myself included, prefer the past perfect.

  5. #5
    emsr2d2's Avatar
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    Default Re: reported speech and when

    Direct speech: “I was walking down the road when I saw the accident.”
    Reported speech: He told me he was walking down the road when he saw the accident.

    Direct speech: "I had been walking down the street when I saw the accident."
    Reported speech: He told he had been walking down the street when he saw the accident.

    I always try to be as true to the original as possible when I convert direct speech to reported speech so I don't change the tense form at all unless it's absolutely necessary. I certainly wouldn't use "when he had seen the accident" in either of those examples.
    However, I don't see anything wrong with changing "I was walking down the street" to "He told me he had been walking down the street".


    With your next example:

    A friend is telling you about the horrible weather:
    It started raining heavily when I left work.
    (Even this is slightly ambiguous. Does it mean "It started to rain just as I left work", literally meaning the rain started to fall at exactly the same time as I exited the building? Or does it mean "It started to rain around the time/shortly after I left work"?

    He said it had started raining heavily when he had left work (it sounds horrible and the sentence is almost nothing but verbs). I agree with you - "when he had left work" is not necessary.

    He said it had started raining heavily when he left work (is wrong because it means it was already raining when he left work). I don't entirely agree with you here. It's ambiguous. It could mean "it had already started raining when he left work" or it can be understood as "it started raining when he left work".

    He said it started raining heavily when he left work (is the best version because it is accurate, short, and there is no confusion because of the time context). I absolutely agree with you. This is the most natural and clear.


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