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    #1

    Two questions about Indirect Speech

    Hello,

    I have two different questions about Indirect Speech structures.

    My first question is regarding a grammar test from Grammar Digest. In one of its exercises I must fill in the blank with the correct form of the verb in the parenthesis. Here is the test:

    When the press secretary claimed that he (have, not) ________ any information, the reporters (leave) _____________ the room.
    I filled the first blank with (hadn't) and the second blank with (left), but according to the answer keys my first answer was wrong and I must have filled it with (didn't have).

    Unfortunately the answer keys have not explained why my answer is wrong or why I must have filled it with (didn't have). Would you please explain more about it?

    -----------------------

    My second question is about Formal and Informal Indirect Speech.

    In my grammar book has been included that in less formal, popular usage today, the verb in the noun clause is often in a present time form if the fact or the event is still true. Then, it has compared two types of them:

    Formal: Ruth said that she was busy and she couldn't go out tonight.

    Informal: Ruth said that she is busy and she can't go out tonight.

    I think the book wants to say that both the formal and informal forms of Indirect speech, as the above example, have got the same meanings.

    But if we suppose this, then how is it possible that a formal sentence like above which has got simple past tenses indicates to the present?

    I mean if I give you a formal sentence without any further sentences, can you tell me that what was my intention? Can you tell me that I meant to point to a thing that happened in the past or to a thing that is happening in the present time?

    Regards.

  1. Piscean's Avatar
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    #2

    Re: Two questions about Indirect Speech

    I would probably say 'hadn't', but I am an elderly speaker of BrE. It would be more common and natural for most people to say 'didn't have'.


    I do not agree that non-backshifting is 'informal'. It is simply an alternative if the situation reported is still valid. Common sense and experience normally enable us to understand times referred to by backshifted tenses.

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    #3

    Re: Two questions about Indirect Speech

    I'm a slightly less elderly speaker of BrE and would use didn't have.

  2. emsr2d2's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: Two questions about Indirect Speech

    I'd use either "didn't have" or "hadn't got".
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

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    #5

    Re: Two questions about Indirect Speech

    I imagine your textbook is teaching American English, as BrE speakers have provided three correct answers. In AmE, only didn't have is commonly used. The other two options are easily understood though.
    I am not a teacher.

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    #6

    Re: Two questions about Indirect Speech

    I do not agree that non-backshifting is 'informal'. It is simply an alternative if the situation reported is still valid. Common sense and experience normally enable us to understand times referred to by backshifted tenses.
    @Piscean, would you please explain more about it? In formal indirect speech (What my grammar book calls it) all the tenses must be in the same time (for example, all of in the past or all of them in the present or future), but in the informal one we can change the tenses. I wonder how a person can understand the intention lied in the formal indirect speech. Let me give you an example:

    In a formal writing if even a statement is assumed to be currently true we are not allowed to use a present tense in a sentence beginning with "He said". Don't know if I am clear or not but see the following instances:

    Formal Indirect Speech: He said that he is going on a business trip.

    Informal Indirect Speech: He said that he was going on a business trip.

    As @Goes Station made a guess, my grammar book is written by an American author, So, If I want to write in the formal way in a newspaper in the USA I need to use the formal structure of Indirect speech. The problem is that I want to say that an action is still true by quoting a sentence from somebody but if I want to say it in the formal way I have to use all the tenses in the past! If I do that then how hearer can understand my intention?

  3. Piscean's Avatar
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    #7

    Re: Two questions about Indirect Speech

    Quote Originally Posted by Flogger View Post
    @Piscean, would you please explain more about it? In formal indirect speech (What my grammar book calls it) all the tenses must be in the same time (for example, all of in the past or all of them in the present or future),
    but in the informal one we can change the tenses.
    That is simply not true. Which grammar book are you using?

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    #8

    Re: Two questions about Indirect Speech

    Quote Originally Posted by Piscean View Post
    That is simply not true. Which grammar book are you using?
    Digest Grammar

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    #9

    Re: Two questions about Indirect Speech

    Quote Originally Posted by Flogger View Post
    Digest Grammar
    Is that the best you can do for a citation? These people are trying to help you.

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    #10

    Re: Two questions about Indirect Speech

    Please give the full title of the book, the name(s) of the author(s), and the edition you are using.
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

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