If it <didn't><doesn't> back off [reported speech]

JJXR

Senior Member
Russian
Hello to all,

Thanks for reviewing my post.


Source:

Youtube video: [name: 'WORLD'S AWAITING N.KOREA'S NEXT ICBM LAUNCH AMID EXTREME TENSIONS'; time: '0:25']

Sample sentence:

A North Korean official promised more gift packages for the United States if it doesn't back off.

Question:

In the above sentence it is clear that the condition 'if it doesn't back off' is to be fulfilled in the future. According to the rules of indirect speech it should be 'if it didn't back off' because the word 'promised' is in the past tense. If I were to use 'if it didn't back off' instead of 'if it doesn't back off', would it be clear that I was talking about a condition that was to be fulfilled in the future, or should I still use 'if it doesn't back off' to convey this meaning?


Thanks a lot for any comments, corrections or suggestions!

Regards,
JJXR
 
  • The Newt

    Senior Member
    English - US
    I would definitely use "doesn't" in that example. We have the option of using either the present or the past, depending on the situation. "Didn't" could cause confusion as to whether the situation was still unresolved.
     

    JJXR

    Senior Member
    Russian
    I would definitely use "doesn't" in that example. We have the option of using either the present or the past, depending on the situation. "Didn't" could cause confusion as to whether the situation was still unresolved.
    Hi The Newt - thanks a lot for the explanation. If the sample sentence were a little bit different, would it be possible to use both 'if it didn't back off' and 'if it doesn't back off' to mean that the situation was still unresolved? Would the presence of 'would' in the sentence make any difference?

    A North Korean official promised his country would have more gift packages for the United States if it doesn't/didn't back off.
     

    The Newt

    Senior Member
    English - US
    Hi The Newt - thanks a lot for the explanation. If the sample sentence were a little bit different, would it be possible to use both 'if it didn't back off' and 'if it doesn't back off' to mean that the situation still was unresolved? Would the presence of 'would' in the sentence make any difference?

    A North Korean official promised his country would have more gift packages for the United States if it doesn't/didn't back off.
    "Would" might make "didn't" a bit more natural. "Doesn't" would still be fine.
     

    JJXR

    Senior Member
    Russian
    "Would" might make "didn't" a bit more natural. "Doesn't" would still be fine.
    But what would you personally choose in the new sentence 'didn't' or 'doesn't' to make it clear that the situation is still unresolved, or do they both convey this?
     
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