told me that they <have repaired> the door [reported speech]

Symrna

Member
somewhere on Earth
The builders told me that they---- the front door as soon as they have finished plastering the wall.

A) have repaired
B) were repairing
C) would repair
D) have been repaired
E) repaired

I picked the option "A" as a correct answer; but I can't explain the reason;

Could you please help me reason? Thanks in advance:)
 
  • Ada..

    Member
    Español- Andalucia, España
    Hi Symrna!
    I would go for "the builders told me that they were repairing the fron door as soon as they have finished plastering the front door"; but I would have said: "The builders told me that they would repair the front door as soon as they had finished plastering the wall" The reason is for me that you have to choose an option which gives a nuance of future action, because they are going to repair the front door after finishing with the plastering stuff, not before, and consequently, from my point of view -i may be wrong-, options A), D) and E) would be out. But again, I may be wrong.

    I hope being of any help.
     

    maxiogee

    Banned
    imithe
    Symrna said:
    The builders told me that they---- the front door as soon as they have finished plastering the wall.

    A) have repaired
    B) were repairing
    C) would repair :tick:
    D) have been repaired
    E) repaired

    I picked the option "A" as a correct answer; but I can't explain the reason;

    Could you please help me reason? Thanks in advance:)
    The "as soon as" tells us that they will not get to the door until the wall is done.
     

    Ada..

    Member
    Español- Andalucia, España
    maxiogee said:
    The "as soon as" tells us that they will not get to the door until the wall is done.
    The "were repairing" option doesn't sound too bad for me... could you, please, explain to me why it is not correct at all?:confused: It also implies that they are not to do the door until they finish the wall, am I right?
    I am confused...:eek:
     

    maxiogee

    Banned
    imithe
    Ada.. said:
    The "were repairing" option doesn't sound too bad for me... could you, please, explain to me why it is not correct at all?:confused: It also implies that they are not to do the door until they finish the wall, am I right?
    I am confused...:eek:
    "were repairing" means that the action has started.
    You may be thinking of
    "would be repairing" which would indeed mean that the door would be seen to as soon as the wall was finished.

    The men said they were walking to work
    ………the movement has started.
    The men said they were walking to work as soon as they finished breakfast
    ………this could mean that the breakfast is already finished and the movement has started.
    The men said they would be walking to work as soon as they finished breakfast
    ………the breakfast has not finished, and the movement hasn't yet begun.
     

    Ada..

    Member
    Español- Andalucia, España
    What about the continuos for the expression of future time, as when you say
    -What are you doing tomorrow?
    -I am going to my grandmum's.
    Or in the following sentence: The train was leaving at 5:30, but due to technical problems, the 5:30 train has been cancelled.
    Are they correct?
    As far as I have been taught, they should...:confused:
     

    Gabbi

    Senior Member
    Irish
    maxiogee said:
    "were repairing" means that the action has started.
    You may be thinking of
    "would be repairing" which would indeed mean that the door would be seen to as soon as the wall was finished.

    The men said they were walking to work
    ………the movement has started.
    The men said they were walking to work as soon as they finished breakfast
    ………this could mean that the breakfast is already finished and the movement has started.
    The men said they would be walking to work as soon as they finished breakfast
    ………the breakfast has not finished, and the movement hasn't yet begun.
    To be precise, "were walking" is the past continuous form which denotes a finished action that was in progress sometime in the past. It is usually used in combination with past simple.
    But using the PC as an indirect speech "backshift" from the present continuous is ok...but it doesn't work with the time clause "as soon as"...
    I advise to use the Ind. Speech backshift with caution.
    BTW, "have repaired" is the Present Perfect that connects the past with the present. "...Have finished plastering" is the PP continuous that is similar except denoting a continuous activity from past until NOW
     

    maxiogee

    Banned
    imithe
    maxiogee said:
    The men said they were walking to work
    ………the movement has started.
    Gabbi said:
    To be precise, "were walking" is the past continuous form which denotes a finished action that was in progress sometime in the past. It is usually used in combination with past simple.
    But.... what about… Imagine I meet you on the street, and I say to you…

    I met two fellows on the road a minute ago. When I asked them where they were going the men said they were walking to work.

    … that is standard usage. What they would actually have said is "We are walking to work" but as I am reporting it I need to change the tense. However, as it is only a minute ago when I tell you this, they are still in transit.
     

    Gabbi

    Senior Member
    Irish
    Ok Ada, here a quick crash course for you (please fire your teacher!): the present continuous + future time adverb (e.g. your example above) is used generally for
    1) meetings ("I'm meeting my boss at 3pm sharp",
    2) appointments (I'm going to the cinema this evening) and
    3) trips (I'm flying to Rome on the W-end)
    Some conditions for this: there should either be third parties involved not present at the time of your utterance...plus it should be something you would write into your calender or agenda

    About the "train" example: there is sth wrong with that sentence. It should go: the train was due to leave at...

    Next question? ;-)
     

    Gabbi

    Senior Member
    Irish
    Yes, I agree absolutely, Max. That's the famous "backshift" in indirect speech. But the grammatical form is still past continuous. There are many disputes going on in the linguistic world regarding the backshift...
     

    Ada..

    Member
    Español- Andalucia, España
    1st.- So that I should never say : the builders told me that they were repairing the fron door as soon as they have finished plastering the front door:cross:, is it?
    2nd.- Does not "The builders told me that they would repair the front door as soon as they had finished plastering the wall" sound better than "The builders told me that they would repair the front door as soon as they have finished plastering the wall"? (I guess I am wrong again...:eek:)


     

    Gabbi

    Senior Member
    Irish
    Correct would be: ...that they were repairing the front door WHEN something happened (combination with past continuous) e.g. it started to rain
    Or (example): ....that it HAD STARTED to rain WHILE they were repairing the f.d....
    Your 2nd is correct: ...they would repair the f.d. as soon as they HAD FINISHED plastering... (backshift from present perfect to past perfect)
     

    Ada..

    Member
    Español- Andalucia, España
    Let's see: given the exerecise:
    Symrna said:
    The builders told me that they---- the front door as soon as they have finished plastering the wall.

    A) have repaired
    B) were repairing
    C) would repair
    D) have been repaired
    E) repaired
    I choose option C, but for me, as soon as they have finished does not sound very well, and as that is what is given, I consider that if B were understood as expressing "future plan", it could fit better with the subordinate...
    I am totally confused:confused:
     

    Gabbi

    Senior Member
    Irish
    Option B (were repairing or are repairing as soon as...) is not a future plan, as this would be: will repair (for future intentions)

    The continuous form is used for continuous activities or for future appointments

    "Would" is simply the backshift from "will"

    Check the web for extra help
     

    panjandrum

    Occasional Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    All of the questions about reported speech resolve more easily if you ask the question, "What did they actually say."

    What did the builders tell you?

    The builders said,
    "We ........ the front door as soon as we have finished plastering the wall."

    What goes where the dots are?
    What did they say they would do with the front door?
    It has to be,
    "We will repair the front door as soon as we have finished plastering the wall."

    Now, what does this look like as reported speech rather than a direct quotation.

    The builders told me that they would repair the front door as soon as they had finished plastering the wall.

    Oops:eek:
    It looks like whoever set your question has goofed and mixed up the tenses between direct and reported speech.
     

    Ada..

    Member
    Español- Andalucia, España
    panjandrum said:
    The builders told me that they would repair the front door as soon as they had finished plastering the wall.

    Oops:eek:
    It looks like whoever set your question has goofed and mixed up the tenses between direct and reported speech.
    :):):)He hey!!:):):)
    Good morning!
    That does confirm my theory all along (example in #13): "they would repair the front door as soon as the have finished plastering the wall" doesn't sound correct.
    Thank you, panj, all my bases were collapsing!;)
     

    maxiogee

    Banned
    imithe
    panjandrum said:
    It has to be,
    "We will repair the front door as soon as we have finished plastering the wall."

    Now, what does this look like as reported speech rather than a direct quotation.

    The builders told me that they would repair the front door as soon as they had finished plastering the wall.
    Ada.. said:
    :):):)He hey!!:):):)
    Good morning!
    That does confirm my theory all along (example in #13): "they would repair the front door as soon as the have finished plastering the wall" doesn't sound correct.
    Thank you, panj, all my bases were collapsing!;)
    That's where I disagree with you both.
    If the builders are not currently working on the plastering, then yes, I would report "as soon as they had finished plastering".
    But, if they are currently slapping in on good-o, then I would report "as soon as they have finished plastering".

    I don't know the term for the tense involved, but I would always say…
    "As soon as they have finished what they are doing"
    and not…
    "As soon as they had finished what they are doing"
     

    Ada..

    Member
    Español- Andalucia, España
    maxiogee said:
    I don't know the term for the tense involved, but I would always say…
    "As soon as they have finished what they are doing"
    and not…
    "As soon as they had finished what they are doing"
    :)Told in this way, it sounds very logic (or logical?what do you say?), but the thing is that I could not really get that nuance from the begining in the given senctence, and my first impression was that there could be an error...(I am a bit slow sometimes... many times :eek:)
    The term for the tenses is -if you are interested: Present Perfect /Present Simple Continuous, in the first sentence; and Past Perfect / Present Simple Continuous in the second sentence.

    The names of the tenses in English are very simple (not as for example in Spanish, which have very complicated names):
    Present vs. Past
    Simple (with no auxiliar, apart form "do") vs. Perfect (with the auxiliar "have" + ed2)
    Modification for aspect--> Simple vs. Progressive: Continuous ( with the auxiliar "be" + ing form)
    And Passive vs. Active (which is no tense but voice modification--> auxiliar "be" + ed2)
    This exposition is not very orthodox, but it works...
     

    panjandrum

    Occasional Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Despite maxiogee having disagreed with me, I agree with him.

    My earlier post is consistent with a table of tense shifts from direct to reported speech given to me some time ago. But if I move into the real world where the guys are actually plastering.

    I chat to the chief plasterer and ask him if they could repair my front door.
    He says (as before)
    "We will repair the front door as soon as we have finished plastering the wall."
    If MrsP phones me to find out if I've arranged to get the front door fixed, then I am going to say something like,
    "I spoke to the chief plasterer and he says they will repair the front door as soon as they have finished plastering."

    I think I'll go an put a footnote on my table of tense shifts suggesting that things get very flexible if the original statement, the reporting of the statement, and the action included in the statement are all happening at around the same time:eek:

    (This option isn't available from the original question either:D )
     

    ganondorf

    New Member
    Spanish Spain
    In strict grammatical terms there are three types of conditionals:

    1. Present-->future/present/imperative

    If you study you will pass your exams
    If you study you get tired
    If you see him tell him to study

    2. Past-->conditional

    If you studied you would pass your exams

    3. Past Perfect--> conditional perfect

    If you had studied you would have passed your exams

    From a prescriptive point of view, you cannot mix these pairs of tenses when forming a conditional because each pair stands for something different: the first is used for facts and virtual actions, the second for "very" virtual actions (lol), and the third for virtual actions in the past(more or less). However, "have" in "as soon as they have repaired..." is in the subjunctive mood, that is to say, it is "very" virtual in a way and therefore, it could be used in a conditional of the second type. The result sounds strange to the foreign ear (I'm Spanish) because we are accostumed to these prescriptive patterns. However, it is in the language.

    Perhaps the problem is that we are taught prescriptive English grammar at schools and this does not help at all when you have to face real-life situations.
     

    maxiogee

    Banned
    imithe
    Ada, many thanks for the grammar lesson.
    I am truly ashamed of my ignorance of my own language's mechanics.
     
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