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  1. #1
    hatgray is offline Member
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    Back shift

    I forgot she was your assistant.

    using the verb I forgot, if I use was, does it mean she is not your assistant anymore? Or can it depend on context?

    thanks

  2. #2
    Matthew Wai's Avatar
    Matthew Wai is offline VIP Member
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    Re: Back shift

    I think it is unknown whether she is still the listener's assistant in the present.

    https://www.usingenglish.com/article...ed-speech.html
    Scroll down to '3. Optional Backshifting'.
    I am not a teacher.

  3. #3
    emsr2d2's Avatar
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    Re: Back shift

    Quote Originally Posted by hatgray View Post
    "I forgot she was your assistant."

    When using the verb "I forgot​", if I use "was", does it mean she is not your assistant anymore (no question mark here) or can it depend on context?

    Thanks.
    Please note my corrections to your punctuation and capitalisation above.

    No, it doesn't necessarily mean that. It depends on context. In that context, if she wasn't your assistant anymore, it would be more likely to say "I forgot she used to be your assistant".

    John: Did you post that letter?
    Sarah: No, but I gave it to Helen to post.
    John: Who's Helen?
    Sarah: She's my assistant!
    John: Oh, yes! I forgot she was your assistant.
    Sarah: That's OK. She's very good so I'm sure she posted it.

    John: Did you get that report done on time?
    Sarah: No, I'm still working on it. Helen was helping but now I have to do it alone.
    John: Who's Helen?
    Sarah: She was my assistant until she quit three months ago.
    John: Oh yes! I forgot she used to be your assistant. It's a shame she left.
    Sarah: It's more than a shame. I can hardly keep up with my workload now.
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

  4. #4
    hatgray is offline Member
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    Re: Back shift

    Hi emsr2d2 and Mathew,

    In the link Matthew provided #4 Obligatory backshifting, I am confused why he used “says”. I think it should be said.

    “She says that he had been looking forward to it”

    Can you use says then back shift or is that a typo?

  5. #5
    Matthew Wai's Avatar
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    Re: Back shift

    You wrote it six years ago? You were not yet a member here then.
    I am not a teacher.

  6. #6
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    Re: Back shift

    Quote Originally Posted by hatgray View Post
    Or can it depend on context?
    It can, and the wider context is usually the right place to look for meaning.

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