To Linguisticturn


Sir, in the earlier post you had answered a question on the indirect speech. According to your version the indirect speech of I have got a headache is I had a headache. Will you please go through this link and confirm which is the right answer.

edited Apr 20 at 16:13 sanjay Expert

2 answers


Well, this may well depend on what you mean by 'right'. Do you mean the answer that an ESL teacher or textbook will say is right, or do you mean how actual native speakers use the English language in speech and writing? Because the two are not always perfectly alligned.


But maybe that website is right. As you know, people do disagree about such things sometimes. However, while it is true that my answer was partially  based on what sounded good to my ear, it was also based on what I've found on google books.


As far as what sounds good to me, keep in mind that I'm much more used to American English as opposed to British English, and have got in general is more of a British thing (see e.g. here). So that could have biased me there.


Also, perhaps the had got construction is indeed used in this very context, and maybe one could find it on google books if one kept digging. Maybe I didn't look hard enough. But you can dig through google books same as I can... and if you find something, let us know!


Having said all this, I don't know how much trust to put in this particular grammar site where you found this example. I mean, sure, if you play by the 'official' rules as laid out in ESL textbooks, you'd say it should be had got; and if you are taking a course based on such a textbook, that's what will be expected of you. But my point in answering the question was that what textbooks tell you isn't always alligned with how people speak and write. This is why I regard ESL sites as unreliable as far as fine points of usage; I have much more confidence in comprehensive grammars such as CGEL and in corpora such as published literature accessible through google books. I'm pretty sure it would be very rare to hear a native speaker in the US say that someone told them that they had got a toothache and not mean had acquired (or had developed) a toothache.. And in the examples of literally that phrase on google books (see here), it is not clear to me that the intended meaning isn't precisely acquired, which is what I was saying in my answer (although perhaps developed fits better).


But, again, people can disagree. Look at the examples in published literature, and judge for yourself. Do let me know what you decided at the end!

link edited Apr 21 at 01:58 linguisticturn Expert

Thank you.

sanjayApr 21 at 04:33

No problem...!

linguisticturnApr 21 at 04:55

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In suggesting that there is only one correct way of turning direct speech into indirect speech, that site is very unhelpful indeed.


Depeding on the time that elapsed between the words being uttered and their being reported, any of the following are possible ways of reporting “I have got a toothache”:


He says (that) he's got a headache.

He says (that) he has a headache.

He said (that) he's got a headache.

He said (that) he has a headache.

He said (that) he'd got a headache.

He said (that) he had a headache.


You can also say, for example, He tells/told me, He claims, claimed,  etc instead of He says/says, or report his words in some other way, such as He is/was complaining of a headache.


In real life, native speakers rarely feel obligated to follow the rules and patterns set out in many course books.

link answered Apr 20 at 21:10 Jed Grammarly Fellow

Thank you.

sanjayApr 21 at 04:33

You're welcome.

JedApr 21 at 08:36

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