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Direct and indirect speech

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Oros, May 29, 2005.

  1. Oros Senior Member

    [font=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]1. She said, "I'm teaching English online. This is present continuos tense.
    [Direct speech]

    [/font][font=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]2. She said she was teaching English online. This is past continuous tense.
    [Indirect speech]

    I saw the above examples on a website. They have wriiten those two sentences to describe the difference between direct speech and indirect speech.

    Irrespectie of direct and indirect grammatical aspects, you must write the present continuos form if she is enaged in online teaching even today.

    If she teaches English today, I think, you must write the following:

    She said she is teaching English online.

    Your comments please.

  2. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    Greetings Oros,
  3. Magg Senior Member

    Spain / Spanish
    Yes, that´s true.
    The first thing we think of when dealing with indirect speech is to change the verb tenses one place back.
    We we must take into account that if the reporting verbs are in present tenses, you must keep the same tenses in your indirect sentences, regardless of the time you´re reporting those statements. That shows that actions are still true, and not only when they were said.

    Last week I visited Paris. Now I´m telling a friend of mine:
    "Paris is such a wonderful city"

    The following day my friend tells another person:
    I saw Magg yesterday and she told me Paris is such a wonderful city.


    My mum says to me every day: "You have to tidy your room"
    My mother said (that) I have to tidy my room.

    My teacher is telling us: "If you had studied harder, you would have passed."
    My teacher said that if we had studied harder, you would have passed.

    Our friends have said: "We won´t go to the party."
    Our friends said (that) they won´t go to the party.

    The only thing you have to bear in mind here is to change peronal pronouns and adverbs.

    Hope this helps
  4. Oros Senior Member

    I am sorry to learn that my question is not precise to you all.

    If she works as a teacher of (on line) English nowadays, I think it should be the following:

    [font=Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif]She said she is teaching English online.

    It is not correct to say 'She said she was teaching English online'.

    Because this is an ongoing activity; it would be incorrect to insert a word or a verb of past tense.

    I hope you could comment on my point now.

  5. timpeac

    timpeac Senior Member

    English (England)
    I think both sentences are acceptable, but the nuance is different. If you say "She said Paris was a wonderful city" it is the default sentence. It gives no further information about whether Paris is still a wonderful city right now or not. "She said Paris is a wonderful city" gives the extra nuance that it continues to be. In this example, I suppose "She said Paris is a wonderful city" would be more normal because of the context, but "was" wouldn't be wrong in my opinion.

    Similarly with the original question "she said she was teaching English on line" is the uninflected statement. We have no further information on whether she continues to do this right now, but this sentence certainly doesn't preclude it. If you say "she said she is teaching English on line" then that suggests to me that you are saying that she is still doing it right now. Either that, or a misuse of the indirect speech rules and you have no idea if she is still doing it right this second or not, in which case "was" would be better in my opinion.

    EDIT - I can't think of the exact threads or even the subjects, but we have discussed similar situations in English where the "sense" of the tense that should be used has more strength thant the strict grammatical rule concerning which tense follows in which particular case.
  6. elroy

    elroy Motley mod

    Urbana-Champaign, IL
    Am. English, Pal. Arabic (See profile)
    Hm...but if she SAID it in the past, how are you supposed to know whether what she said still applies today???

    Even if she said "Paris is a beautiful city" yesterday, there's nothing to indicate that she still believes so today.

    We can't assume anything about what was told us...

    That's why I always say "She said Paris was a beautiful city."

    As Tim said, that's the default sentence. I think it is for a reason.
  7. jacinta Senior Member

    USA English
    I would say that in regular speech, I understand this form to be talking about an event that would be continuing today. The fact that the person told me this information yesterday calls for the use of the past tense.

    "I was talking to my friend yesterday and she told me that she was teaching English online."

    This sentence is fine and it tells me that she is teaching English right now.

    You can also say the same thing using "she is teaching English online". But, I would say that it sounds better if the sentence uses the same tense throughout.

    The same goes for the sentence about Paris.

    "My friend got back yesterday and she said Paris was beautiful." This doesn't mean that now Paris is no longer beautiful. It refers to the time of the exchange of information.
  8. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    Hello Oros,

    First, the sentence is perfectly fine. It means that a narrator is telling about "she", who made a statement about her activities.

    One may choose to assume, without firm evidence, that those activities are on-going. One could be wrong. If you want precision, you may simply have to use additional words.

    Here is an example of how it could create problems to assume too much, with no context.

    Scene: Oros and Cuchu are having a conversation. The telephone rings.
    Oros picks it up and chats (!:)) briefly. He hangs up the phone.

    Cuchu- What did she say?
    Oros- She said she is teaching English online.
    Cuchu- Oh, that's right. She had told me she was going to substitute teach for her sick friend this afternoon.

    If Oros had said, "She said she's working at her normal job, teaching English online." then there would be no ambiguity or potential confusion about the progressive nature of the activity.

    I hope I'm not creating too much confusion. I just don't want to have you assume that a sentence like this, absent any context, has only a single meaning.

  9. alc112

    alc112 Senior Member

    Concordia, Entre Ríos
    Argentina Spanish
    I think the indirectsentence is wrong:
    I guess that the teacher was teaching the present tense in the direct and indirect speech.
    When the direct sentence was changed, you put that she is teacher PAST instead of PRESENT.
    Let me correct

    1. She said, "I'm teaching English online. This is present continuos tense.
    [Direct speech]

    2. She said she was teaching English online. This was present continuous tense.
    [Indirect speech]

    Correct me if I'm wrong, but That's what I think.

  10. elroy

    elroy Motley mod

    Urbana-Champaign, IL
    Am. English, Pal. Arabic (See profile)
    I agree with you - generally. I guess for me it just depends on how recently I received the information.

    If somebody had JUST told me "I'm im Seattle right now," I could say "He said he's in Seattle." (although "He said he was in Seattle" would not be wrong).

    A few days, later, however, I'd only say "He said he was in Seattle."

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