Results 1 to 6 of 6
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Posts
    4
    Post Thanks / Like

    Question reported speech problem

    Please help, I am so confused... I have a test in reported speech, and I can't get this one right

    I was playing when he came in.

    the possible answers follow:

    He said he had been playing when he had come in.
    or
    He said he was playing when he came in.
    or
    He said he had been playing when he came in.
    or....

    what?

  2. #2
    BobK's Avatar
    BobK is offline Harmless drudge
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • UK
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Posts
    15,329
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: reported speech problem

    Quote Originally Posted by Alien Girl View Post
    Please help, I am so confused... I have a test in reported speech, and I can't get this one right

    I was playing when he came in.

    the possible answers follow:

    He said he had been playing when he had come in.
    or
    He said he was playing when he came in.
    or
    He said he had been playing when he came in.
    or....

    what?

    When you report speech, you usually back-shift the verb in the speech reported, and you don't change the tense of the other verb: http://www.usingenglish.com/glossary...ed-speech.html

    This rules out the first option (because the third verb is changed), and the second option - because the verb in the speech being reported isn't.

    b

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Posts
    1,554
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: reported speech problem

    Well, the third verb is actually part of the reported speech. The original phrase is:

    "I was playing when he came in."

    That's what was actually said.

    But you don't normally backshift the past simple to the past perfect. That's not actually a change in tense, strictly speaking: it's a change in aspect, and you should preserve the aspect.

    The rule of thumb is: Look at the first verb in the verb phrase. If it is in the present tense, change it to the past tense.

    In this case, both verb phrases contain only one verb, and in both cases the verb is already in the past tense -- and so cannot be backshifted.

    If the original had been this:

    "I have been playing."

    Then the present-tense "have" would be backshifted, giving us:

    He said he had been playing.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Posts
    4
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: reported speech problem

    so, option 2 or option 3? do i shift the first verb or just leave everything as it is? sorry, but it takes me a while to understand

  5. #5
    BobK's Avatar
    BobK is offline Harmless drudge
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • UK
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Posts
    15,329
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: reported speech problem

    My analysis was faulty , but my conclusion was OK - the third option.

    Sorry to have treated the problem as if it was more simple than it was. The sentence under question (the third option) is ambiguous:
    He [Tom] said [that he {i.e. Dick} had been playing] when he [Harry] came in.
    ^^^REPORTED SPEECH^^^
    or
    He [Tom] said [that he {i.e. Tom himself} had been playing when he [Harry] came in]

    ^^^^^^REPORTED SPEECH^^^^^^
    There's a third possibility, in which Tom talks about both Dick and Harry.

    I chose the least likely option (which didn't fit the direct speech you gave). Apologies.
    b

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Posts
    4
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: reported speech problem

    u are very much forgiven. thanks a lot for the help

Similar Threads

  1. Reported speech ...
    By sweetie_sneha in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 19-Jun-2006, 14:36
  2. help me to teach : reflexive pronouns and reported speech
    By aboalgory in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 26-Mar-2005, 22:52
  3. reported speech
    By Anonymous in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 16-Aug-2004, 21:55
  4. Reported Speech
    By bluejazzshark in forum English Idioms and Sayings
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 08-Jul-2004, 14:10
  5. desperate! reported speech
    By valtango in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 20-Mar-2003, 15:40

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
Hotchalk