Reported speech 2

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When we want to report speech using the Present Continuous we usually move the tense of the verb back to the Past Continuous.

Czytam książkę.”

„I am reading a book.”

Agnieszka powiedziała, że czyta książkę.

Agnieszka said she was reading a book.

Remember that for the Present Simple you don’t have to move the tense back in time if the fact you are reporting is still true at the moment you are reporting it. You can also do this with the Present Continuous.

Probably still doing the activity – present continuous

Właśnie zadzwoniłem do Agnieszki i powiedziała, że czyta książkę.

I just called Agnieszka and she said she is reading a book.

Not still doing the activity – past continuous

Wczoraj zadzwoniłem do Agnieszki i powiedziała, że czyta książkę.

I called Agnieszka yesterday and she said she was reading a book.

Present continuous for the future

One problem with the Present Continuous is that it can, the same as using iść in Polish, also be used for the future (something planned and organized which can’t be changed).

Jutro Idę do mamy na obiad.

I am going to my mum’s (house) for dinner tomorrow.

The reason this is a problem is because we now have three possible situations when we want to report what was said.

  1. The person is doing this activity now, at the moment we are reporting it.
  2. The person will do this activity in the future after the moment we report it e.g. tomorrow.
  3. The person has already done this activity in the past before the moment we report it e.g. yesterday.

For the first two situations we can just leave the tense as the Present Continuous because is going has both a present and future meaning.

1 The person is doing this now – present continuous

Agnieszka powiedziała, że idzie do mamy na obiad.

Agnieszka said, she is going to her mum’s for dinner.

2 The person will do this activity after you report it – present or future continuous

Agnieszka powiedziała, że jutro idzie do mamy na obiad.

Agnieszka said she is going to her mum’s for dinner tomorrow.

There is however a second option. We can use the Future Continuous to make it clear that this will happen in the future.

Agnieszka powiedziała, że jutro idzie do mamy na obiad.

Agnieszka said she will be going to her mum’s for dinner tomorrow.

3 The person finished this activity before you report it – past continuous

Agnieszka powiedziała, że wczoraj jadła obiad u mamy.

Agnieszka said she was going to her mum’s for dinner yesterday.

Next: Reported Speech 3