Reported speech with future events

morgana

Senior Member
"The director of Public Health said that the Regional Health Ministry expects flu virus to reach its peak in the second half of December."

or

"The director of Public Health said that the Regional Health Ministry expected flu virus to reach its peak in the second half of December."

I got confused with the rule on tenses, which one is right?

Thanks all :)
 
  • Espinha

    Member
    Portuguese - Portugal
    They're both right depending on whether the sentence is referring to something that will happen in the future or something that should have happened in the past.

    If, however, we're talking about December 2008, then only the first one sounds logical to me.

    Espinha
     

    morgana

    Senior Member
    Yes it's December 2008, so I would logically choose the first one.
    But a friend told me that according to a grammar rule a reported speech should always be in the past tense :confused:
     

    MarcB

    Senior Member
    US English
    Yes it's December 2008, so I would logically choose the first one.
    But a friend told me that according to a grammar rule a reported speech should always be in the past tense :confused:
    Not always. The he said part is usually in the past be what he actually said depends on when the action occurs.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Timeline:

    past ......... A ......... present ....... B

    Speaking in the present about something he said in the past, at time A ...
    If he said something about the past then the verb should be in the past.
    If he said something about the future, either an event at B or something between the present and B, then the present is used IF what we are saying is still true, otherwise it has to be the past.

    He said that the Regional Health Ministry expected the flu virus to reach its peak in the second half of December.
    That is correct if speaking of a December in the past or if the Regional Health Ministry has changed its mind.

    He said that the Regional Health Ministry expects the flu virus to reach its peak in the second half of December.
    That is correct if speaking of a second half of December in the future AND if the Regional Health Ministry has not changed its mind.

    This is very like the advice given in:
    Reported speech, ongoing truth. He claimed the Earth was flat.

    You will find lots of threads about reported speech and tenses HERE.
     

    morgana

    Senior Member
    Thanks both of you, that's what I thought.

    panjandrum, I had a look at all the threads on reported speech and I also read the one on the flat Earth, but I still had doubts because it didn't consider the future tense.

    Anyway, thank you guys :)
     
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