- For Teachers
Do we always need to backshift the verb in reported speech?
Some argues that where the reporting verb is in the past tense, then we should move the other verbs back a tense automatically.
However, this, IMO, can lead to sentences that make little sense. When we are reporting facts or things which are still in the future at the time of reporting, I can see no need whatsoever to backshift unless you really want to. There are also cases when shifting the past to the past perfect doesn't seem appropriate. Which of the following make more sense?
1) She said Elizabeth II is the queen of England.
2) She said Elizabeth II was the queen of England.
Elizabeth II is queen at the time of reporting.
1) She said Elizabeth I was the queen of England.
2) She said Elizabeth I had been the queen of England.
Elizabeth I has been dead for hundreds of years at the time of reporting.
I would go for number 1 in both cases.
Categories: Speaking Out