Ex: My teacher said that his parents are separated.
Originally Posted by chum
Ex: My teacher said that his parents were separated 2 months ago.
- If the reporting verb (the main verb of the sentences, e.g., said, is in the past, the verb in the noun clause will usually be in a past form.
- If the reporting verb is simple present, present perfect, or future, the noun clause verb is not changed.
She says, "I wash my hair every day."
She says she washes her hair every day.
She has said, "I wash my hair every day."
She has said that she washes her hair every day.
She will say, "I wash my hair every day."
She will say that she washes her hair every day.
- If the reported sentence deals with a fact or general truth, the present tense is (can be) retained. She said that the moon causes the tides.
- If the speaker reports something immediately or soon after it was said, the noun clause verb often remains as spoken.
A: What did the conductor say?
B: He said that the next stop is Northgate.
- If will is the modal in the reported utterance and expresses future time, and if the situation described in the quote still holds true at the time of the indirect report, the will may not be changed to would even though the reporting verb is in the past tense:
Mr. Arden said that a volcanic eruption will occur next year.
For advanced members
Constraints on tense choice in reported speech
In reported speech, a that-clause depending on a reporting verb in the past tense can under certain conditions use the present tense instead of the past tense: He said that his name was/is John
. The conditions in question have often been discussed in the literature. The present article concentrates on the factors that hamper or prevent the use of the present tense. Some of these have to do with the fact that a reporting verb creates an intensional domain, others are related to the speaker's choice of 'temporal focus'. All in all, the factors appear to be numerous and of many different types: they have to do with syntax, semantics, pragmatics, communication structure and context.
In Studia linguistica
Blackwell, Oxford, ROYAUME-UNI 1996, vol. 50, no3, pp. 283-301 (22 ref.)