Results 1 to 5 of 5
  1. #1
    Tan Elaine is offline Key Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Student or Learner
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Hong Kong
      • Current Location:
      • Hong Kong
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Posts
    2,367

    The teacher said that there are/were seven continents in the world.

    The teacher said, "There are seven continents in the world."

    I was taught that in reported speech, it should be:

    The teacher said that there are seven continents in the world.

    Would it be correct if it is reported as 'The teacher said that there were seven continents in the world.'?

    Thanks.

  2. #2
    Lynxear's Avatar
    Lynxear is offline Senior Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Retired English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Canada
      • Current Location:
      • Canada
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Posts
    492

    Re: The teacher said that there are/were seven continents in the world.

    I would not say "The teacher said that there were seven continents in the world." unless that was what the teacher actually said. You are recording the speech not modifying it.

    The use of "were" and "are" correct to use depending on context.

    I would use "were" if I was being definite about the last time I looked at the situation and "are" if I was absolutely certain.

    Are there five cookies on the table?

    "There were five cookies there a few minutes ago." / "Yes, there are five cookies there."
    Experience is recognizing a mistake the second time you make it.
    You don't go to an Englishman when you want good pierogi.

    - Wisdom from my father

  3. #3
    emsr2d2's Avatar
    emsr2d2 is online now Moderator
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • UK
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Posts
    61,320

    Re: The teacher said that there are/were seven continents in the world.

    In reported speech, though, the direct question "Are there five cookies on the table?" would become "He/She asked if there were five cookies on the table". If the direct question were "Were there five cookies on the table?", it would become "He/She asked if there had been five cookies on the table."

    "There are five continents" (spoken by a female) can become:

    She said "There are five continents."
    She said there were five continents.

    I don't dispute that you will hear She said there are five continents​ and it's not wrong but it doesn't follow the usual reported speech backshift pattern.

    (As always in my posts, these are BrE conventions.)
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

  4. #4
    Raymott's Avatar
    Raymott is offline VIP Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Academic
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Australia
      • Current Location:
      • Australia
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Posts
    25,679

    Re: The teacher said that there are/were seven continents in the world.

    If you always backshift in this situation, as I think I do, you will not get it wrong.

  5. #5
    Raymott's Avatar
    Raymott is offline VIP Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Academic
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Australia
      • Current Location:
      • Australia
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Posts
    25,679

    Re: The teacher said that there are/were seven continents in the world.

    I make no distinction for universal truths. "Galileo said the Earth revolved around the Sun."; "He said that water was H2O."
    Sure, it's not important, but if you're learning English, it's far easier to remember that you can always backshift. This means you don't have to think about it.

Posting Permissions

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