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      • Native Language:
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    • Join Date: Jun 2005
    • Posts: 62
    #1

    if-clause in Reported Speech

    Dear teachers,

    I need your help! I've been wondering if a real conditional (the first conditional) clause changes its verb tense in a reported speech sentence.

    For example,
    Amy said to me, "if you can make it before 6 o'clock, you will be able to see our performance."
    Then, I need to tell my co-worker why I left early the day.
    Should I say
    A) I had to leave early because my friend Amy told (or had told) me if I can make it before 6 o'clock, I will be able to see their performance.
    or
    b) I had to leave early because my friend Amy told (or had told) me if I could make it before 6 o'clock, I would be able to see their performance.
    ?


    Kitty

  1. Tullia's Avatar
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    • Join Date: Aug 2010
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    #2

    Re: if-clause in Reported Speech

    Quote Originally Posted by hellokitty View Post
    Dear teachers,

    I need your help! I've been wondering if a real conditional (the first conditional) clause changes its verb tense in a reported speech sentence.

    For example,
    Amy said to me, "if you can make it before 6 o'clock, you will be able to see our performance."
    Then, I need to tell my co-worker why I left early the day.
    Should I say
    A) I had to leave early because my friend Amy told (or had told) me if I can make it before 6 o'clock, I will be able to see their performance.
    or
    b) I had to leave early because my friend Amy told (or had told) me if I could make it before 6 o'clock, I would be able to see their performance.
    ?


    Kitty

    The tense of the reported speech changes depending on the tense of the main verb in the sentence.

    Amy (has) told me that if I can..., I will be able to... .
    Amy (had) told me that if I could...., I would be able to... .


    You would use the first if the possibility was still open; i.e. you hadn't made yet it before 6 o'clock but you still had time to do so!

    You would use the second if the possibility is further in the past and now closed i.e. it is after 6 o'clock - it doesn't matter if you did or didn't make it in time!

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Japanese
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      • Current Location:
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    • Posts: 62
    #3

    Re: if-clause in Reported Speech

    Tullia, thank you so much for the explanation!
    Can I ask one more question?
    Which is correct?
    A) When I started learning English, I thought if I live in the U.K., I can speak English fluently.
    B) When I started learning English, I thought if I lived in the U.K., I could speak English fluently.
    It's still possible for me to live in the U.K., but it doesn't matter because now I know just living there doesn't automatically make me speak English fluently. I also wonder if B) sounds like unreal (the second) conditional.

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