Tenses – Reported Speech

Tenses – Reported Speech

Example (1): We were told they were all ready to pick up.
‘… told they were …’
Example (2): He said it was nothing to do with him.
‘… said it was …’
Example (3): The engineer said they’d have to build …
‘… said they’d …’

Notes

Use the past tense in a sub-clause

  • when the main clause is in the past tense
  • even if the sub-clause (‘… they were all ready …’) refers to the present, as in Examples (1) and (2).

Use ‘would’ in a sub-clause

  • when the main clause is in the past tense
  • even if the sub-clause (‘…they’d (would) have …’) refers to the future, as in Example (3).

Note on exceptions

If a sub-clause, dependent on a past-tense main clause, states
something that is always true or valid, the present tense is used:

‘The engineers said they follow (!) many safety procedures.’