Mary told me she <loved><loves> birds

cesc75toronto

New Member
Spanish
Hello,

In reported speech, do I have to use the past tense? If I use "loved", does it mean she still loves birds? Is it perhaps correct to say "told me she loves birds"?

Maria told me she loved birds because her parental grandfather enjoyed the observation of birds, and she was taught by him.

Thank you!

Francesc
 
  • billj

    Senior Member
    British English
    Hello,

    In reported speech, do I have to use the past tense? If I use "loved", does it mean she still loves birds? Is it perhaps correct to say "told me she loves birds"?

    Maria told me she loved birds because her parental grandfather enjoyed the observation of birds, and she was taught by him.

    Thank you!

    Francesc
    If Maria still loves birds (which is probably true) then backshift is optional; you can keep the original present tense instead of backshifting.
     

    Englishmypassion

    Senior Member
    India - Hindi
    If Maria still loves birds (which is probably true) then backshift is optional; you can keep the original present tense instead of backshifting.
    Yes, but backshifting wouldn't mean that she doesn't love birds anymore. One of the purposes of backshifting is to make the tense of the reported verb (here "to love") agree with the tense of the reporting verb (here "told").
     

    billj

    Senior Member
    British English
    Yes, but backshifting wouldn't mean that she doesn't love birds anymore. One of the purposes of backshifting is to make the tense of the reported verb (here "to love") agree with the tense of the reporting verb (here "told").
    I didn't say it does, but it is a possibility. The tense of the reported speech does not have to agree with the tense of the reporting verb if the original utterance is still applicable and relevant. Backshift in the OP's example is clearly optional.
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    If Marina told me that just this morning, with "loved" I might be indicating that she was referring to an earlier period, her childhood perhaps, when she loved birds.

    I think "that he/she loves (something or someone)" is always preferable when it can be assumed that they still love it or them.
     

    billj

    Senior Member
    British English
    That backshifting wouldn't necessarily mean that she doesn't love birds anymore.

    For example, "I didn't say backshifting was mandatory" doesn't mean it's only about the past-- the statement still applies to the OP.
    That's obvious. But I'm asking you what it was in my post #2 that you feel is wrong.
     
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