A boy asked me if he could drive my car, i said no and explained that he needs to wait until he is older

Julieonline

Member
chinese
Hi, I have a question about reported speech.
If I am telling someone something happened yesterday, which one of the following sentence is correct ?
---"a boy asked me if he could drive my car, i said no and explained that he needs to wait until he is older."
---"a boy asked me if he could drive my car, i said no and explained that he needed to wait until he was older."

Thanks, Julie
 
  • boozer

    Senior Member
    Bulgarian
    Thanks, Julie
    Most welcome, though I am not Julie :)

    Both are correct and possible. The first one is possible because the boy will not have grown up since yesterday, i.e. he still needs to wait. The second one is possible and correct because you are most welcome to make all verbs agree in the past tense. By the way, always capitalise 'I'.
     

    RM1(SS)

    Senior Member
    English - US (Midwest)
    If I am telling someone something happened yesterday, which one of the following sentence is correct ?
    ---"a boy asked me if he could drive my car, i said no and explained that he needs to wait until he is older."
    ---"a boy asked me if he could drive my car, i said no and explained that he needed to wait until he was older."
    Neither is correct, because of the comma and the lack of capitalisation. You need to either use a semi-colon or break it into two separate sentences:
    "A boy asked me if he could drive my car; I said no and explained that he needs to wait until he is older."
    "A boy asked me if he could drive my car. I said no and explained that he needs to wait until he is older."
    Both tenses are fine with me; others may disagree.
     

    much_rice

    Senior Member
    English - American
    Both tenses are correct, as Boozer said. But I would add that in everday speech in contemporary English, tenses shift to present for dramatic effect even if logically they should be past. This is relevant because Julie's example is speech; I don't recommend writing it. Example:

    My son came back from the park for lunch, he was all dirty, they must have been playing in the river. So I told him he needs to get that mud off his shoes before he takes one step into the house.

    In this scenario, there are particular incidents in the past (taking the mud off the shoes, entering the house) which ought to be shifted into past tense, but unfortunately for the grammarians, English-speakers don't rely on the grammarians' stated rules.

    (I also side with the Chicago Manual of Style that comma splices are fine as long as the independent clauses are logically connected.)
     

    Julieonline

    Member
    chinese
    Most welcome, though I am not Julie :)

    Both are correct and possible. The first one is possible because the boy will not have grown up since yesterday, i.e. he still needs to wait. The second one is possible and correct because you are most welcome to make all verbs agree in the past tense. By the way, always capitalise 'I'.
    Thank you for your comments! I have to confess that I am a serial offender in not capitalizing "I."
    I will definitely work on it :)
     

    Julieonline

    Member
    chinese
    Neither is correct, because of the comma and the lack of capitalisation. You need to either use a semi-colon or break it into two separate sentences:
    "A boy asked me if he could drive my car; I said no and explained that he needs to wait until he is older."
    "A boy asked me if he could drive my car. I said no and explained that he needs to wait until he is older."
    Both tenses are fine with me; others may disagree.
    Thank you for pointing out the issue with punctuation and capitalization!
    They are indeed my weak spots.
     

    Julieonline

    Member
    chinese
    Both tenses are correct, as Boozer said. But I would add that in everday speech in contemporary English, tenses shift to present for dramatic effect even if logically they should be past. This is relevant because Julie's example is speech; I don't recommend writing it. Example:

    My son came back from the park for lunch, he was all dirty, they must have been playing in the river. So I told him he needs to get that mud off his shoes before he takes one step into the house.

    In this scenario, there are particular incidents in the past (taking the mud off the shoes, entering the house) which ought to be shifted into past tense, but unfortunately for the grammarians, English-speakers don't rely on the grammarians' stated rules.

    (I also side with the Chicago Manual of Style that comma splices are fine as long as the independent clauses are logically connected.)
    Thank you for pointing out the differences in everyday speech and written English. I do get confused sometime, because I often hear people shifting tenses in speech but then often find myself confronted with the exact opposite in grammar books.
     
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