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lisa666

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Hello, everyone
Could you help me with a sentence which is puzzling me, please? I don't understand why "was" is used in it. Please tell me why. Thank you.

The teacher made me spell my name as it was on the birth certificate.
 

Route21

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"The teacher made me spell my name as it*was*on the birth certificate." means "spell your name exactly the same way as it is written on your birth certificate" - even if it was originally incorrectly written.

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R21
 

I.M. Knott

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As Route 21 suggests, It would be more clear if the word "was" were changed to "is." "Spell your name exactly as it is written on your birth certificate." [The writing on the birth certificate has not changed.]
 

Raymott

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As Route 21 suggests, It would be more clear if the word "was" were changed to "is." "Spell your name exactly as it is written on your birth certificate." [The writing on the birth certificate has not changed.]
I'm not sure if that's what Route21 said. In either case, the meaning is obvious. But I'd keep 'was' since the sentence is in the past tense; you're reporting something that happened in the past. The birth certificate might not exist any more.

Teacher: "Spell your name as it is on the birth certificate."
Me: "The teacher told me to spell my name as it was on the birth certificate." This is normal back shifting.
 

Route21

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In changing "was" to "is", I was assuming that the name was being copied directly, with the birth certificate in view, for accuracy reasons.
Whether or not the birth certificate were available to the writer, "was" works for me.
Regards
R21
PS I've never tried "back shifting" before! ;-)
 
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Islands

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(I'm not a teacher)

"back shifting"
Sounds like a phrase to describe a teenager returning to live at mum's house after realising how expensive the outside world is. ;-)
 
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