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Thread: Indirect speech

  1. #1
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    Default Indirect speech

    Direct: Shall we be there tomorrow?
    Indirect: They want to know if they will be there tommorrow

    Is the sentence above correct?

    Do we step backward from "future simple" to "present simple" tense? And what if the direct sentence in "future continous/ be going to"?
    And there from direct will stay in the indirect one?

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Indirect speech

    shall be => would be

    Note that,

    Present continuous => Past continuous
    Present simple => Past simple
    Present prefect => Past perfect
    Past perfect => No change
    Past simple => Past perfect
    Past continuous => No change (usually)
    shall/will => would
    can => could
    must => had to or No change
    should => No change
    ought to => No change
    may => might
    imperative => infinitive

    Source: http://www.miguelmllop.com/grammars/...rtedspeech.pdf [page 123]

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Indirect speech

    Hi,

    Doesn't the tense of the reported speech depend on the tense of the verb of communication? (The article assumes verbs of communication in the past tense.)

    I'd accept Belly T's sentence as correct (but I'm neither a native speaker nor a teacher).

    ***

    Edit:

    Quote Originally Posted by Belly T View Post
    And there from direct will stay in the indirect one?
    "There" may stay, but doesn't have to. It's a question of the context in which the speech is reported.

    1. They want to know if they will be there.

    The speaker is either

    a) in the same place as they are
    b) or in a different place, but not the place they were asking about.

    2. They want to know if they will be here.

    The speaker is in the place they were asking about.
    Last edited by Dawnstorm; 11-May-2007 at 12:17.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Indirect speech

    Agreed, and isn't also a matter of pronoun?

    I, we shall
    s/he, they will

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Indirect speech

    Moreover, I'm a North American speaker of English, so Shall we be there tomorrow? is quite the oddity.

    What are your thoughts?

    ___________________________________
    Correction (post #4)
    isn't it also

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Indirect speech

    Much thanks, but Swan said again, in page 252 of Pratical English Usage, he gave an example:

    Direct: Shall I be needed tomorrow?

    Indirect: He wants to know if he will be needed tomorrow

    I wonder why he wrote the sentence in future tense, could you make it clearer?

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Indirect speech

    The point is, Micheal Swan didn't shift the tense backward

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    Default Re: Indirect speech

    Quote Originally Posted by Belly T View Post
    Much thanks, but Swan said again, in page 252 of Pratical English Usage, he gave an example:

    Direct: Shall I be needed tomorrow?

    Indirect: He wants to know if he will be needed tomorrow

    I wonder why he wrote the sentence in future tense, could you make it clearer?
    Have you read Dawnstorm's posts? They explain it.

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    Default Re: Indirect speech

    Quote Originally Posted by Casiopea View Post
    Moreover, I'm a North American speaker of English, so Shall we be there tomorrow? is quite the oddity.

    What are your thoughts?
    I'm Austrian (a native speaker of German), with a decided tendency towards British English. I find nothing odd about the sentence per se, although it's somewhat hard to interpret without context.

    Item one:

    Are "shall/will" modal verbs, hinting at intention, or "auxilary" verbs marking the future tense? There are arguments for both (look up the various discussions on whether English has a future tense or not).

    Item two:

    Is there a difference between "shall" and "will" when applied to first person pronouns?

    Item three:

    Do "shall" and "will" behave differently in questions than in statements?

    I must admit that I tend to decide on a case-by-case basis. Abstractly, it's too confusing, so I don't really have any reaction (but confusion if I try and tackle the subject) to "Shall we be there?" I don't get odd vibes from it, though. (It does have the slight air of a "suggestion", though.)

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    Default Re: Indirect speech

    Quote Originally Posted by Dawnstorm View Post
    I'm Austrian (a native speaker of German), with a decided tendency towards British English. I find nothing odd about the sentence per se, although it's somewhat hard to interpret without context.
    For North American speakers, the usage is different. Click 56. shall / will. 1. Grammar. The American Heritage Book of English Usage. 1996. You'll find the answers to Items one, two, and three.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dawnstorm
    I must admit that I tend to decide on a case-by-case basis. Abstractly, it's too confusing, so I don't really have any reaction (but confusion if I try and tackle the subject) to "Shall we be there?" I don't get odd vibes from it, though. (It does have the slight air of a "suggestion", though.)
    What kind of suggestion?



    In short, 1. sounds mighty odd to me, even with context, but 2. is perfectly meaningful:

    1. Shall we be there tomorrow? <>
    2. Shall we be needed tomorrow? <permission>

    Getting back to Belly T's examples:

    Direct: Shall we be there tomorrow?
    Indirect: They want to know if they will be there tomorrow.

    It appears that Michael Swan (American, right?) uses will instead of would (with "be needed", not "be there") for the following two reasons:

    i. The main verb want isn't in the past tense.
    ii. The subject pronoun they isn't compatible semantically with shall in that context.

    All the best.

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