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  1. singa
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    #1

    Post indirectness in asking

    My English teacher said Using past tense in asking questions can create indirectness.
    It beats me. I don't understand what she meant. Could you help me out ?
    I am full of gratitude to you. Thanks.

  2. Barb_D's Avatar
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      • American English
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      • United States
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    #2

    Re: indirectness in asking

    I'm afraid the only person who can help you understand what was meant is your English teacher.

    Of course you can ask questions in the past tense.

    Perhaps she meant the type of past that is used to make things more polite.
    Can you tell me what time it is? becomes Could you please tell me the time?
    Will you pass the salt, please? becomes Would you please pass the salt?
    I'm not a teacher, but I write for a living. Please don't ask me about 2nd conditionals, but I'm a safe bet for what reads well in (American) English.

  3. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #3

    Re: indirectness in asking

    Quote Originally Posted by Barb_D View Post
    I'm afraid the only person who can help you understand what was meant is your English teacher.

    Of course you can ask questions in the past tense.

    Perhaps she meant the type of past that is used to make things more polite.
    Can you tell me what time it is? becomes Could you please tell me the time?
    Will you pass the salt, please? becomes Would you please pass the salt?
    Could and would are technically modal verbs, not past tenses.

    However, I cannot see why your teacher would tell you this about asking questions. It is perfectly possible to ask a question in the past tense:

    Where were you this morning?
    What time was it when you left?
    How was your brother when you saw him?

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