Back shift

hatgray

Member
Joined
Aug 29, 2017
Member Type
Student or Learner
Native Language
Hindi
Home Country
India
Current Location
United Arab Emirates
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
 

emsr2d2

Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Jul 28, 2009
Member Type
English Teacher
Native Language
British English
Home Country
UK
Current Location
UK
"I forgot she was your assistant."

When using [STRIKE]the verb[/STRIKE] "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.
 

hatgray

Member
Joined
Aug 29, 2017
Member Type
Student or Learner
Native Language
Hindi
Home Country
India
Current Location
United Arab Emirates
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?
 

Matthew Wai

VIP Member
Joined
Nov 29, 2013
Member Type
Interested in Language
Native Language
Chinese
Home Country
China
Current Location
China
You wrote it six years ago? You were not yet a member here then.
 

Tdol

Editor, UsingEnglish.com
Staff member
Joined
Nov 13, 2002
Member Type
Native Language
British English
Home Country
UK
Current Location
Japan
Top