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  1. Newbie
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    • Join Date: Sep 2009
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    #1

    Reported Speech - Get confused

    Hi,
    I'm now bewildered by the shift tense in reported speech. Please help me to explain the right way to use it. I'm really appreciated.

    As I've learned, when a statement starts by "she said/ he said...", the tense in following clause must be PAST TENSE.

    But in a reference book I've read. It uses like this:

    "My mother said that the penguin is one of the birds that cannot fly".
    "His mother insisted that he pay attention to his teacher's class."
    -> is that right? And why?

    Thanks again in advance for your help!
    Ella.
    Last edited by ellaDuy; 08-Sep-2009 at 04:19.

  2. Barb_D's Avatar
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    • Join Date: Mar 2007
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    #2

    Re: Reported Speech - Get confused

    It's true that we OFTEN backshift in reported speech, but not always.

    When it's a "universal truth" (something that is, was, and always will be true [unless proven differently by scientists of the future]) we often keep the present.

    Examples: The Earth is round. The penguins is a bird that can't fly.

    You can also use it when you want to emphasize that something is still true, especially if the listener may think it's no longer true if you backshift to the past: He said you are pretty. (You don't want the listener to think that "he" said you "were" pretty years ago but you're ugly now, for example.)

  3. Barb_D's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: Reported Speech - Get confused

    Oh, sorry, I didn't address the other one.

    She insisted that he pay attention - this is the subjunctive.

  4. Newbie
    Student or Learner

    • Join Date: Sep 2009
    • Posts: 2
    #4

    Re: Reported Speech - Get confused

    Now i'm more confident up to you. You're really kind. Thanks again!

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