Kang from Singapore asks:
Is it correct to say: ‘She told me she was a teacher’ (she is still
teaching). Or should I say: ‘She told me she is a teacher.’ I am
always troubled by this situation.
frmo Turkey asks:
My question is related to reported speech. Most grammar books say:
If the reported sentence deals with a fact or the general truth,
the present tense can be retained: ‘She said that the moon causes
the tides’. So is it possible to say the following sentence is correct:
‘He wanted to learn where he can change some money.’ I am thinking
that the man needs to change money periodically and wants to learn
where he can generally do this?
Saroshini Nissanka from Sri Lanka asks:
Please explain to me all about direct and indirect speech.
general rule is that when the reporting verb (e.g. 'she said
(that)', 'they told me (that)', 'we thought (that)',
'he informed me that', 'I wondered whether', 'he wanted
to know (if)' is in the past, we usually convert the verb form
in the direct speech sentence into one which is more 'past' in reported
simple > past simple;
present progressive > past progressive;
past simple > past perfect;
present perfect > past perfect;
perfect progresseive > past perfect progressive;
can/may/shall/will > could/might/should/would;
the following examples
love you. > He told me he loved me.
going out now. > She informed me she was going out.
sure we have met before. > He was sure we had met
been having a brilliant time in Cyprus. > She phoned to
tell me that she had been having a brilliant time in
be wearing my red dress to the party. > You said you
would be wearing your red dress to the party, but you’re
can’t really fly, daddy. > My son admitted that he couldn’t
may be back late tonight. > He let me know that he might
be back late this evening.
you are correct, Richard and Serdar. If we are reporting a fact
or something that is still true, the direct speech form can often
be retained. So in your example, Richard, if the person you are
talking about is still teaching then both these sentences are correct.
‘She told me she was a teacher.’
‘She told me she is a teacher.’
In your example, Serdar, the reference is to one specific occasion
of changing money, so the sentence has to read:
'He wanted to learn
where he could change some money.'
1: Sometimes, whether you use one or the other depends upon
how you see it. Take the two reporting statements:
‘She told me she
loved me’ and ‘She said she loves me’
the first, it might be the case that what she said was not true,
whilst in the second, it clearly is the case that you believe what
2: The past perfect does not change in reported speech as there
is no verb form further 'back in time':
'I had never smoked before I went to Jane’s party.'
> 'She maintained that she had never smoked before she
went to Jane’s party.'
3: I if the reporting verb is in the present tense, the verb
form in the reported statement remains the same. Consider the following
examples which are all about a murder investigation:
'I have no idea where Jim Smith is.' > 'He says
he has no idea where Jim Smith is.'
'I haven’t seen him since last Easter.' > 'He claims
he hasn’t seen him since last Easter.'
'I didn’t kill him! I am innocent!' > 'He insists
questions I can’t explain all aspects of reported speech in this
one reply, Rasanka, but I would like to spend just a couple of minutes
discussing reported questions, as I find that my own students often
have greatest difficulty in coping with this aspect. For reported
questions you also need to remember the need to move the verb form
‘one tense back’. But, additionally, you need to remember that there
is no inversion of subject and verb and no 'do', 'does' or 'did'
in reported questions. Consider the following:
the matter? > I wanted to know what the matter was.
do you feel today? > The doctor asked me how I felt.
are you going so late at night? > I asked her where she was
going so late at night.
that girl in the red dress? > I wondered who that girl in the
red dress was.
did you make that salad? > I couldn’t work out how she had made
Easter Egg would you like? > He asked his grandson which Easter
Egg he wanted.
Easter Egg did you buy? > His wife wanted to know which Egg
he had bought.