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    #1

    Reported Speech

    Nightmare85 recently started a thread about reported speech (which is now closed), and Raymott made a post stating that one must (or "had to"???) almost always backshift; using the present tense is (or "was"???) rarely correct. It was my impression that the present tense could be used when something is still true (e.g., She said that Ottawa is the capital of Canada.)

    Would you say that the following paragraph is ungrammatical?

    "Yesterday I met up with X. He said he plans to work this year and is looking for a job. I asked him why he doesn't go back to work at the bank, and he told me that he wants to work elsewhere. He also told me he's interested in going back to school at some point."

    Is this how it should read?

    "Yesterday I met up with X. He said he planned to work this year and was looking for a job. I asked him why he didn't go back to work at the bank, and he told me that he wanted to work elsewhere. He also told me he was interested in going back to school at some point."

    Thanks a lot.

  1. Raymott's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Reported Speech

    Quote Originally Posted by Jasmin165 View Post
    Nightmare85 recently started a thread about reported speech (which is now closed), and Raymott made a post stating that one must (or "had to"???) almost always backshift; using the present tense is (or "was"???) rarely correct.
    No, that's a misreading. Thanks for raising it.
    I try to avoid words like 'always', but I did say that backshifting (in this context) was always correct. I didn't say that not backshifting was wrong.

    It was my impression that the present tense could be used when something is still true (e.g., She said that Ottawa is the capital of Canada.)
    You can say that. However, backshifting here is more common, and more importantly, never wrong. No one has come up with an example of where backshifting is wrong, so I'll stick with 'never wrong' for now. Please someone, correct me if I'm wrong!

    Would you say that the following paragraph is ungrammatical?

    "Yesterday I met up with X. He said he plans to work this year and is looking for a job. I asked him why he doesn't go back to work at the bank, and he told me that he wants to work elsewhere. He also told me he's interested in going back to school at some point."
    That's a good paragraph.

    Is this how it should read?

    "Yesterday I met up with X. He said he planned to work this year and was looking for a job. I asked him why he didn't go back to work at the bank, and he told me that he wanted to work elsewhere. He also told me he was interested in going back to school at some point."
    That's a good paragraph too.

    Thanks a lot.
    Most people like simple and correct rules. If you want one for these cases, here it is: Backshift.

    If your English is more advanced, then you can decide not to backshift, but you won't be any more correct.

    See my post #22:
    https://www.usingenglish.com/forum/a...aid-etc-3.html

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