Hi,

Today I have a question about indirect speech.

ex)

A: "I hate spiders."

B: John admited that he hated/hates spiders.

You can't go wrong with the past tense here, but the present tense is also possible if the statement is still valid at the moment of uttering B.

How about the following case then?

ex)

A: "How old are you?"

B: I wondered how old you were.(O)

C: I wondered how old you are.(?)

The problem is that questions themselves are neither true or fase. The question "How old are you?" is not a statement about your age. Since it's not a statement, I'm not sure if it is appropriate to use the present tense here.

Could someone help me with this? Thank you.
The first point about indirect speech (and the last point, and all the points in between) is that it is hardly more than an intellectual exercise. In real life, no one spends time transforming direct speech into indirect speech. Emotion: smile

That said, the point of the exercise is usually to see if the student can change present-point-of-view tenses into past-point-of-view tenses. If you don't change present to past, there is no point in doing the exercise!

"but the present tense is also possible"

Yes, but as it turns out, because of the purpose of the exercise, there is little point in dwelling on such possibilities. My guess is that in only 1% of all sentences of this type does anyone use a present tense after a past tense in "real life". It's really quite amazing the number of questions we get on the forums about situations which almost never occur.

jooneyThe question "How old are you?" is not a statement about your age. Since it's not a statement, I'm not sure if it is appropriate to use the present tense here.
Good point. I would not use the present tense. (But then I wouldn't use the present after a past in any of these. Emotion: smile)

CJ
Thank you very much, CJ.

It's surprising to know that there aren't many situations in reality where the present tense can be considered as a substitute for the past tense.

So in essence, it's aways safe to go with the past tense when the time of the event in the main clause is past, right?

Thank you.
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Right.
jooneyit's aways safe to go with the past tense when the time of the event in the main clause is past, right?
Just what Mr. M. said. Right! Emotion: smile

CJ
Many thanks to Mr. M and CJ. I appreciate your help.Emotion: smile
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