[Grammar] he became/had become very sick

Oceanlike

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I was trying a practice on transformation (changing direct to indirect speech). My answer was wrong but I don't understand why.

Question: "When Tobby was six months old, he became very sick," said Mrs Jill.

My answer: Mrs Jill said that when Tobby was six months ago, he had become very sick.
(Correct answer: Mrs Jill said that when Tobby was six months ago, he became very sick.)

I was taught that when changing direct to indirect speech, the verb usually takes 'one-step back' when the speech verb is in past tense. However, this does not apply if the statement is a universal fact.

I don't understand why in this question, the 'became' does not need to be changed to past perfect.

Thank you.
 

probus

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It depends on what Mrs Jill intended to say next. If she intended to say something about the past, then "had become" is correct. If not, "became" is right. We can answer with certainty if we know the exact question you had to answer.
 

emsr2d2

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I assume that in both your answer and the correct answer, you meant to type "six years old", not "six years ago". Also, Tobby is not a recognised English name. Are you sure it didn't say Toby?
 

Oceanlike

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Yes, it was a typo error. Yes, it should be Toby. :-D

Thank you.
 
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