Reported Speech: simple past or past perfect?

Discussion in 'English Only' started by mrxkms, Apr 3, 2011.

  1. mrxkms Senior Member

    Arabic-English
    Hello my friends

    how are you? I hope you are all okay.

    I have understood the Reported Speech almost fully. I don't think that I am missed something out since I am applying the rules of the Reported Speech which are related to changing the tenses and pronouns.


    However, while checking my answers in the Answer Key after I did some exercises, I found out that some of my answers are wrong according to the Answer Key, even though I was applying the rules of tenses and pronouns.

    So, I would like to discuss with you some examples of these exercises which I have already done.I don't care about the answers of these exercises as much as I do care about knowing why they are answered this way or that way.

    So, this is not homework to be done but an exercise to be discussed.

    I will post next to each example my answer and the answer in the Answer Key.

    1-
    What was your favourite subject at school? (Direct Speech)

    They wanted to know what her favourite subject had been at school. (My answer)
    They wanted to know what her favourite subject was at school. (The answer in the Answer Key)

    2-
    What was the last book you read? (Direct Speech)

    They asked her what had been the last book she had read. (My answer) (I am doubtful about this one. It sounds strange.)
    They asked her what was the last book she had read. (The answer in the Answer Key)


    From another exercise. Number 3 and 4 are related. They are from the same exercise.


    3-
    Have you got toothache? (Direct Speech) (isn’t this present perfect?)

    Suzan wanted to know / asked whether Rose had got toothache. (My answer)
    Suzan wanted to know / asked whether Rose had toothache. (The answer in the Answer Key)

    4-
    No, I go every six months for a check- up. (Direct Speech)

    Rose replied that she hadn’t, but said that she went every six months for a check-up. (My answer)
    Rose replied that she didn’t, but said that she went every six months for a check-up. (The answer in the Answer Key)

    I want to know if my answers are right or wrong.

    If my answers are right according to the reported speech rules, so why the answers in the Answer Key are the way they are.

    If they are wrong, what makes them wrong or what is the thing that I didn’t think of while doing these exercises?

    I hope that you got my questions. And I hope that my questions are crystal clear.

    Once again, this is not homework.

    Thank you very much.
     
  2. Ariel Knightly

    Ariel Knightly Senior Member

    Rio de Janeiro
    Brazilian Portuguese
    I'm not a native speaker either, but I think...

    (1) both the book's answer and yours are possible - and I think yours is the better.
    (2) the book's answer sounds better than yours, but I can't see anything wrong with your answer.

    The book's answer is ok because "What WAS the last book you read?" is kind of the same as "What IS the last book you read?"

    (3) Your answer is sure wrong because you thought "have got" was in the present perfect; it isn't.

    (present) I have to go = I've got to go = I got to go.

    (past) I had to go.

    In American English, the form "I have gotten" would help you identify the present perfect.


    (4) Your answer is wrong. In the direct speech the sentence is in the present simple. When you narrate it in your reported speech, what was present becomes past, simple past.
     
  3. Ariel Knightly

    Ariel Knightly Senior Member

    Rio de Janeiro
    Brazilian Portuguese
    Actually, it depends on the question Rose was asked. And you forgot to tell us what the question was.
     
  4. mrxkms Senior Member

    Arabic-English
    The question is there, have a look at it.

    Suzan wanted to know / asked whether Rose had got toothache. (My answer)
    Suzan wanted to know / asked whether Rose had toothache. (The answer in the Answer Key)
     
  5. mrxkms Senior Member

    Arabic-English
    The puzzle now is solved concerning Number 3 and for since have got is simple present not present perfect.

    Number one: both are acceptable but why the book preferred to choose the simple past?
    Number two is still ambiguous and it is confusing me.
     
  6. Ariel Knightly

    Ariel Knightly Senior Member

    Rio de Janeiro
    Brazilian Portuguese
    No, honey, I was atlking about (4), not (3).

    As for the "had got vs. had" thing, the problem is the fact that "have got" isn't as example of "get" in the present perfect. The expression "have got" means the same as "have," see? It's present.

    -----

    EDIT: Ok, got it.
     
  7. mrxkms Senior Member

    Arabic-English
    Yes honey,

    Number 2 and 3 are fully understood now since I knew that have got is simple present not present perfect.

    You know. I never imagined that have got is simple present and it never occured to me to check it out.

    I am really disappointed. Am I the only one who missed this point? or are there so many others like me?

    Whatever, what do you think of number 22-What was the last book you read? (Direct Speech)

    They asked her what had been the last book she had read. (My answer) (I am doubtful about this one. It sounds strange.)
    They asked her what was the last book she had read. (The answer in the Answer Key)
     
  8. Ariel Knightly

    Ariel Knightly Senior Member

    Rio de Janeiro
    Brazilian Portuguese
    You don't normally use the past perfect when the time relationships are clear, even when the direct speech is in the past. That is, if you can use the past simple and your sentence still makes sence, then it probably sounds better than the past perfect.

    Some exmaples from Practical English Usage:

    I told you John (had) phoned this morning.
    We were glad to hear you (had) enjoyed your trip in Denmark.
    This man on TV said that dinosaurs were around for 250 million years. (not *... that dinosaurs had been around...)
     
  9. srta chicken Senior Member

    California
    US English
    When you say "what was the last book she read" you are talking about the recent past...when she is still 35 years old, let's say.

    but when you say "the last book she had read," you are talking about a time period prior to the recent past...like maybe when she was a little girl.

    Since the question doesn't indicate anything but the recent past, you have to use the simple past.
     

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