Results 1 to 8 of 8
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Dutch
      • Home Country:
      • Belgium
      • Current Location:
      • Belgium

    • Join Date: Jun 2010
    • Posts: 20
    #1

    Tense transformation

    Hello,

    I've been struggling for some time now with turning the sentence below into one that is one step further in the past ( la reported speech).

    "Three hours have passed since I was asked to wait in the hall"

    Would the following transformation be correct?

    "Three hours passed since I had been asked to wait in the hall"

  1. Raymott's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Australia
      • Current Location:
      • Australia

    • Join Date: Jun 2008
    • Posts: 24,091
    #2

    Re: Tense transformation

    Quote Originally Posted by Baldrick View Post
    Hello,

    I've been struggling for some time now with turning the sentence below into one that is one step further in the past ( la reported speech).

    "Three hours have passed since I was asked to wait in the hall"

    Would the following transformation be correct?

    "Three hours passed since I had been asked to wait in the hall"
    I'd say ( la reported speech):
    "[I said] three hours had passed since I was asked to wait in the hall."

    What you have written is correct if the exercise is to take the verb in each clause and make it one step back in tense. What reported speech does is to place the event in the past and to use whatever verbs are appropriate. That's a different thing. The only change necessary is 'have' to 'had'.

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Dutch
      • Home Country:
      • Belgium
      • Current Location:
      • Belgium

    • Join Date: Jun 2010
    • Posts: 20
    #3

    Re: Tense transformation

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    I'd say ( la reported speech):
    "[I said] three hours had passed since I was asked to wait in the hall."

    What you have written is correct if the exercise is to take the verb in each clause and make it one step back in tense. What reported speech does is to place the event in the past and to use whatever verbs are appropriate. That's a different thing. The only change necessary is 'have' to 'had'.
    I do mean to produce a sentence exactly as it would appear in reported speech. The sentence comes from a short story I've been working on and is part of a narrative.

    I'm also a bit confused about the use of the past perfect in the sentence you gave me. I thought actions in the past perfect always indicate that they take place before the actions described in the past simple? Could you maybe elaborate on the rules for the use of the past perfect in such constructs such as story narratives?

  2. Raymott's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Australia
      • Current Location:
      • Australia

    • Join Date: Jun 2008
    • Posts: 24,091
    #4

    Re: Tense transformation

    Quote Originally Posted by Baldrick View Post
    I'm also a bit confused about the use of the past perfect in the sentence you gave me. I thought actions in the past perfect always indicate that they take place before the actions described in the past simple? Could you maybe elaborate on the rules for the use of the past perfect in such constructs such as story narratives?
    You probably understand the rules; but this isn't a a narrative. It's backshifting for reporting.
    The backshift of the present perfect is the past perfect, not the simple past.
    “I have been waiting” -> “He said he had been waiting”
    The first verb/action in the past in the reported clause is ‘said’.

    The simple past is the backshift of the simple present.
    “I’m a jerk” -> “He said he was a jerk.”
    “I’ve been a jerk” -> “He said he’d been a jerk.”
    Any further clauses are treated on their merits and the second clause in the original didn't require changing.

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Dutch
      • Home Country:
      • Belgium
      • Current Location:
      • Belgium

    • Join Date: Jun 2010
    • Posts: 20
    #5

    Re: Tense transformation

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    You probably understand the rules; but this isn't a a narrative. It's backshifting for reporting.
    Aha, that means that actions in the past perfect don't always necessarily denote actions that took place before actions described in the past simple? (as in our example, the hours passed after the request to wait in the hall had been made, and not before the request)

    Quote Originally Posted by Raymott View Post
    Any further clauses are treated on their merits and the second clause in the original didn't require changing.
    I don't really understand what you mean by that. How was it that the past simple ("was asked to wait") in that second clause didn't need changing? And what do you mean precisely by "further clauses are treated on their merits"?

  3. 5jj's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • England
      • Current Location:
      • Czech Republic

    • Join Date: Oct 2010
    • Posts: 28,134
    #6

    Re: Tense transformation

    Quote Originally Posted by Baldrick View Post
    And what do you mean precisely by "further clauses are treated on their merits"?

    1. He left/had left before I arrived.
    2. He left/had left when I arrived.

    In #1, before makes the order of events clear. We do not have to use a past perfect form.

    In #2, when does not make the order clear. We must choose the version that fits the facts:

    He left when I arrived. The leaving and arriving happened at the same time.

    He had left when I arrived . The leaving happened before the arriving.

  4. Raymott's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Australia
      • Current Location:
      • Australia

    • Join Date: Jun 2008
    • Posts: 24,091
    #7

    Re: Tense transformation

    Quote Originally Posted by Baldrick View Post
    Aha, that means that actions in the past perfect don't always necessarily denote actions that took place before actions described in the past simple? (as in our example, the hours passed after the request to wait in the hall had been made, and not before the request)
    Yes they do. I explained that.

    " “I have been waiting” -> “He said he had been waiting”
    The first verb/action in the past in the reported clause is ‘said’. "

    He had been waiting before he said "I have been waiting". He said it in the past, and his waiting was further back in the past. The asking was even further in the past, but we don't have an unlimited number of past tenses.

    What you can deduce is that actions that took place before an action in the past don't necessarily have to be in the past perfect tense.


    :Originally Posted by Raymott
    Any further clauses are treated on their merits and the second clause in the original didn't require changing.
    Quote]
    I don't really understand what you mean by that.
    I meant that you have to judge whether "since I was asked to wait in the hall" requires a tense change; and I said that it doesn't.

    How was it that the past simple ("was asked to wait") in that second clause didn't need changing?
    It just didn't. When you backshift for reporting, you don't just look for all the verbs in the sentence and shift them all back one tense.
    And what do you mean precisely by "further clauses are treated on their merits"?
    I meant that you have to judge whether "since I was asked to wait in the hall" requires a tense change; and I said that it doesn't.
    The conjunction "since" means that this clause has to be further back in the past. It's unambiguous, and no tense change is necessary to give its meaning.

    If you had to backshift every verb that referred to an action that occurred before another one, you'd get, "He said that he had been waiting since he had had been asked to wait, after he had had had received a phonecall telling him that the boss had had had had wanted to see him, because of a mistake he had had had had had made."







    [/QUOTE]
    Last edited by Raymott; 23-Jan-2011 at 15:58.

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Dutch
      • Home Country:
      • Belgium
      • Current Location:
      • Belgium

    • Join Date: Jun 2010
    • Posts: 20
    #8

    Re: Tense transformation

    Thank you both, Fivejedjon and Raymott, for your elaborate and clear explanations. I think I'm sort of getting the hang of it now.

Similar Threads

  1. transformation
    By thethe in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 10-Feb-2010, 08:01
  2. [Grammar] transformation
    By aya_aya7121 in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 13-Dec-2008, 00:39
  3. transformation of sentences
    By Tan Elaine in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 19-Oct-2008, 12:56
  4. wh-transformation
    By dtommy79 in forum Linguistics
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 13-May-2008, 14:13
  5. Help with a transformation!!!
    By bradaman in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 21-Aug-2007, 22:08

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •