Direct narrations -> indirect narrations


He said, "she will be on Paris on Monday."

-> He said that she would be on Paris on Monday.


When we convert direct narrations to indirect narrations, we should agree tenses with verbs in main clauses. And then, if the verbs are 'would', 'could' and 'might' for politeness or lower possibility, etc in dependent clauses, what verbs should we use for indirect narrations?


He said, "she would be on Paris on Monday."

-> He said that she would be on Paris on Monday. or

-> He said that she would have been on Paris on Monday.


Thank you a million as usual and sorry about taking your time a lot.

edited Aug 31 '12 at 10:37 Hans Contributor

Hello Mr Kwang, I don't understand why you don't up- vote anyone.

sanjayAug 31 '12 at 18:07

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3 answers


You are mixing two different grammatical issues and hoping to find a single rule.


First, verb tense does not have to agree in either direct or indirect narration. The tense chosen for each part (clause) tells us about the timing of the events described. When is "he" saying it? This determines whether your main clause verb is past, present, or even future. Is he talking about a past, present, or future event (from his perspective)? This determines which tense is used in the dependent clause. Direct narration is using the character's own words -- hence the quotation marks. Indirect narration uses the narrator's (ie, the writer's) words.


The issue of would, could, and might have nothing to do with the style of narration. These are conditional verbs used to indicate possibility. Sometimes, out of politeness, we soften our speech by using a conditional when a more direct verb choice is appropriate. Before you worry about the nuance of polite euphemism, you should focus on understanding conditional verbs in their primary, intended usage.


We can use any verb that fits the meaning with indirect narration.


I hope this helps.

link answered Aug 31 '12 at 11:41 Jeff Pribyl Grammarly Fellow

Thank you, s o if you do not mind, could you tell me the difference between them? And which one do you think is correct or either one is okay but there is a difference in meaning?

He said, "she would be on Paris on Monday."-> He said that she would be on Paris on Monday. or-> He said that she would have been on Paris on Monday.

HansAug 31 '12 at 12:01

See my second answer.

Jeff PribylAug 31 '12 at 14:43

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Answers to comments:


The differences between would, could, and might is too big a topic to go into this morning. There is plenty to be found in textbooks and on the internet about conditionals.


It is "in Paris" not "on Paris".


The first example -- He said, "she would be in Paris on Monday."--  and the second -- He said that she would be in Paris on Monday -- have the same meaning, except in the first you are quoting "he" while in the second you are paraphrasing what "he" said. In truth, both are a little off because the conditional "would" doesn't quite fit today. Would be is the conditional for will be (both future tense). For some reason, most native speakers have come to prefer "might be" to indicate the conditional future possibility. Might be is the conditional version of may be. "Would be" as you have used it was much more common 75 years ago, but is becoming less common today.


In the third -- He said that she would have been in Paris on Monday -- you have changed the tense from the future to the past, thus changing the meaning. It is also an incomplete sentence as it begs for completion, the reason why she was not in Paris.


I hope this helps.

link answered Aug 31 '12 at 14:42 Jeff Pribyl Grammarly Fellow

Thank you so much. Have a good day!!

HansAug 31 '12 at 14:51

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link answered Jan 07 '13 at 11:45 Aman Lakhera New member

this makes no sense...are you crazy????

Scarlet DarwinJun 13 '13 at 10:15

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