Backshift

From Teflpedia

Backshifting (/bækʃɪftɪŋ(g)/) or backshift (/bækʃɪft/) is the changing of verbs in the present tense to the aspect-corresponding past tense following a past form of a reporting verb.[1]

  • Instead of: "Dave said he is not going out tonight because he has got a lot of work to do and wants to finish it".
  • We usually say: "Dave said he was not going out tonight because he had got a lot of work to do and wanted to finish it."

Note that the aspects (here, progressive, perfect and simple) stay the same, only the tense changes. Also, this is one instance when the past tense can be used to talk about future time.

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