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  1. #1
    Anonymous Guest

    Quoted speech trouble!

    Quoted speech rule : Quoted ( present) ---reported speech : (past)
    eg. " I am happy", he said. He said that he was happy.
    How about : "I am English", he said.
    Is it : He said that he is English or He said that he was English
    And Why?
    Thanking you in advance.

  2. #2
    Susie Smith Guest

    Re: Quoted speech trouble!

    Quote Originally Posted by yougen
    Quoted speech rule : Quoted ( present) ---reported speech : (past)
    eg. " I am happy", he said. He said that he was happy.
    How about : "I am English", he said.
    Is it : He said that he is English or He said that he was English
    And Why?
    Thanking you in advance.
    There are several cases in which the verb tense change is optional.

    1) when reporting something that someone has just said
    Sarah: I'm tired from all that shopping.
    Joe: What did you say?
    Sarah: I said I was tired. OR I said I'm tired. ( I prefer this one.)

    2) when reporting something that is still true
    John said, "I love Mary."
    John said that he loved Mary OR John said that he loves Mary.

    3) when reporting a general truth or scientific law
    Harry said, "The world is round."
    Harry said the world was round. OR Harry said the world is round.

    So, in answer to your question, I'd say that both forms are correct if he is still living and still English.

    He said that he was English. OR He said that he is English.

    I prefer the second option in all the examples, but the other form is also fine with me.

  3. #3
    MikeNewYork's Avatar
    MikeNewYork is offline VIP Member
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    Re: Quoted speech trouble!

    Quote Originally Posted by yougen
    Quoted speech rule : Quoted ( present) ---reported speech : (past)
    eg. " I am happy", he said. He said that he was happy.
    How about : "I am English", he said.
    Is it : He said that he is English or He said that he was English
    And Why?
    Thanking you in advance.
    I agree with Susie. You will see this both ways. There is a natural tendency to report past statements in the past tense. I tend to use the present tense when it is obvious that the statement is about a current or permanent condition.

  4. #4
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
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    If I weren't sure that he was telling the truth, I'd say 'he said he was English'. If I believed him, I'd use the present.

  5. #5
    MikeNewYork's Avatar
    MikeNewYork is offline VIP Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by tdol
    If I weren't sure that he was telling the truth, I'd say 'he said he was English'. If I believed him, I'd use the present.
    That's a very good point. :wink:

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