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  1. Newbie
    Student or Learner
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      • Native Language:
      • Japanese
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      • Japan
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      • UK

    • Join Date: Jan 2016
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    Unhappy Reported Speech Help

    Hi ESL

    I have a question that confuses me for reported speech

    If somebody (David)

    "Cecil is an incompetent employee."

    Would it be:
    David said Cecil was an incompetent employee.


    David said Cecil is an incompetent employee.

    It's a little confusing. What if the speech is being reported from a situation that happened just moments ago? In that situation Cecil (in David's opinion) would still be an incompetent employee, so "was" seems unsuitable.

    I hope somebody can help!

  2. Piscean's Avatar
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    Retired English Teacher
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      • Native Language:
      • British English
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      • Czech Republic
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      • Czech Republic

    • Join Date: Jul 2015
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    Re: Reported Speech Help

    Backshifting (e.g.' changing is to was​) is almost always possible in reported speech. If the situation reported is still valid at the time of reporting, then it is acceptable not to backshift. In examples such as yours, we have free choice in BrE.

  3. MikeNewYork's Avatar
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      • American English
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      • United States
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      • United States

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    Re: Reported Speech Help

    The same is true in AmE.

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