She said it takes 1 hour to get there

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New Member
Brazilian Portuguese
I've just had a Grammar class about Reported Speech and I've been struggling since then to find the answer to this question: is there any difference between these two sentences?

1) She said it took 1 hour to get there;

2) She said it takes 1 hour to get there.

I know that when something has just been said and we are immediately reporting it or/and when something is still true/general fact we don't need to do the backshift.

Supposing "there" is a place everybody knows and there is an estimation of time for getting there walking, isn't it a general fact? To me it just sounds like the 1st sentence is somewhat a result of her experience: she walked there and it took her 1 hour and she knows that because she did it. However, the second sentence seems to me as if she didn't necessarily walked there, but rather she heard of someone who did and she just knows it takes 1 hour.
Are my impressions completely wrong? I mean, is number 2 grammatically incorrect according to the mentioned "context"?
  • Cagey

    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    Both those sentences are correct, and they can mean the same thing.

    In my view, the choice between them would be largely a stylistic choice and depend on the immediate context. It seems likely that the first one might be used to describe actual experience, as you say. However, it's also possible for someone to use the present to report something that they know from personal experience, if they are reporting it as a general fact.

    It is not really possible to tell very much about why each is used when you have the sentences in isolation. If we are making a plan to walk somewhere, I would probably use the present tense, as in your sentence #2. If I was talking about a conversation that happened a while ago and had no bearing on the present, I might use the second.

    I believe that a some of the variation has to do with personal preference. Some people prefer always to shift back the time in reported speech.

    Here are a few threads on this issue:
    You will see that people have a variety of opinions on this:
    Tense in reported speech: 'He said that increase taxation "is" not the solution'
    Tense in reported speech: past vs present
    reported speech and general truth
    Reported speech, ongoing truth.
    Reported speech, ongoing truth. He claimed the Earth was flat.
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