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  1. Key Member
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    do speakers alway shift past simple to past perfect

    Sorry for making a repetion. It slightly corresponds with one of my previous posts.

    Here's an extract from a grammar book.

    "Do native speakers always observe this formal sequencing of tenses?
    Most native speakers will observe this rule for changing present tense in direct
    speech to past tense in reported speech; however, many speakers will not observe
    this rule for changing past tense to the past perfect and will use past tense only,
    particularly in spoken and informal written English.
    Moreover, native speakers will not always follow this sequencing of tenses for
    actions, events, or facts that are still current and/or true."

    She says,"I was having lunch when they called to tell me that they wanted me back to the hospital."


    "She said (that) she was having lunch when they called to tell her that they wntad her back at the hospital."

    She says,"I was reading a newspaper about a woman who had been stabbed on a train."


    "She told them she was reading a newspaper bout a woman who had been stabbed on a train."

    Judging from the passage given above it might be accaptable in informal writing or conersation not to shift tenses back to the past perfect progressive and the past perfect?

  2. Barb_D's Avatar
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      • Native Language:
      • American English
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    • Join Date: Mar 2007
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    Re: do speakers alway shift past simple to past perfect

    Yes, exactly, when the direct speech includes the past tense, we may or may not back shift in reported speech.

    I am trying to think of when this would not be acceptable, since very little formal writing will include opportunities for "She said that..." type constructions. Perhaps police reports? I'm sure they have their own style.
    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.

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