...and he asked me why I <didn't send><hadn't sent> a reply...

JJXR

Senior Member
Russian
Hello to all,

Thanks for reading my post.


Context:

A person is hypothesizing about a situation in which they didn't reply to an email that they had received.

Sample sentence:

Let's say I saw my friend, by accident, on the street and he asked me why I <didn't send><hadn't sent> a reply, and I said "I didn't reply to your e-mail sooner because I was too busy."

Question:

Are both options acceptable?


Thanks a lot for any comments, corrections or suggestions!

Regards,
JJXR
 
  • PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    Are you aware that you are mixing up reported speech and direct speech?

    If he asked you "Why didn't...", you reply "I didn't...
    If he asks "Why hadn't...", you reply "I hadn't..."
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Hello to all,

    Thanks for reading my post.


    Context:

    A person is hypothesizing about a situation in which they didn't reply to an email that they had received.

    Sample sentence:

    Let's say I saw my friend, by accident, on the street and he asked me why I <didn't send><hadn't sent> a reply, and I said "I didn't reply to your e-mail sooner because I was too busy."

    Question:

    Are both options acceptable?


    Thanks a lot for any comments, corrections or suggestions!

    Regards,
    JJXR
    I'd say both are possible, despite the didn't in the direct speech, but each is appropriate to its own circumstances: they don't mean the same thing.
     

    JJXR

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Thanks for the response, TT.
    Not at all. I wonder if it means what you want it to mean.
    This is how I understand the difference in meaning:

    If we convert "why don't you send a reply" in sentence [X] to reported speech, we have sentence [X']:
    • [X] Let's say I saw my friend, by accident, on the street and he asked me "why don't you send a reply?", and I said "I didn't reply to your e-mail sooner because I was too busy."
    • [X'] Let's say I saw my friend, by accident, on the street and he asked me why I didn't send a reply, and I said "I didn't reply to your e-mail sooner because I was too busy."
    If we convert "why didn't you send a reply" in sentence [Y] to reported speech, we have sentence [Y']:
    • [Y] Let's say I saw my friend, by accident, on the street and he asked me "why didn't you send a reply?", and I said "I didn't reply to your e-mail sooner because I was too busy."
    • [Y'] Let's say I saw my friend, by accident, on the street and he asked me why I hadn't sent a reply, and I said "I didn't reply to your e-mail sooner because I was too busy."
     

    JJXR

    Senior Member
    Russian
    Thanks TT.
    You write as though you don't think there's a difference in meaning.
    Well, I may not understand the difference then. To me, they mean the same thing except that the choice of tense is different. The past perfect "hadn't sent" implies that the reference is being made to an earlier time (the time earlier than the time when I saw my friend). The past simple "didn't send" suggests that the reference is to the main timeframe (the time when I saw my friend).
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Thanks TT.

    Well, I may not understand the difference then. To me, they mean the same thing except that the choice of tense is different. The past perfect "hadn't sent" implies that the reference is being made to an earlier time (the time earlier than the time when I saw my friend). The past simple "didn't send" suggests that the reference is to the main timeframe (the time when I saw my friend).
    Good. That's fine.
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top