Direct and reported speech
1. When the sequence of events is clear it is not necessary to backshift past tenses to past perfect.
– I really enjoyed the party last Saturday.
– We heard you really enjoyed the party last Sunday.
2. When the reporting verb is in the present, future or present perfect, and the situation is still true, the tenses don’t usually change.
– I love children.
– He says he loves children.
– I‘m a vegetarian.
– She‘ll probably tell you she‘s a vegetarian.
– I‘m terrified of heights.
– She has often said that she‘s terrified of heights.
3. When the reporting verbs are in a past tense the modal verbs would, should, could, might, ought to and must do not usually change their form.
– You should visit the castle during your stay.
– He recommended that I should visit the castle during my stay.
4. Reporting verbs that emphasise the importance of an action are often followed by should in British English, and by the subjunctive in American English.
– They recommended that we should stay overnight in Madrid.
– I insisted that he accept payment for the work he had done.
Cleft sentences with what
Important imformation can be ephasised by putting it at the end of a sentence. We put the less important information into a clause beginning with what, and open the sentence with this clause. We can then finish with the important information. The two parts of the sentence are joined with is or was, since we treat the what clause as singular.
– I like Sam’s sense of humour most of all.
– What I like most of all about Sam is his sense of humour.
– The lies she told really upset me.
– What really upset me was the lies she told.
Emphasis with inversion
We can put certain restrictive words or phrases at the beginning of the sentence for emphasis. When we do this, there is inversion of the subject and auxiliary verb.
– Under no circumstances should you let her go.
– At no time would she consider any other possibility.
– Not until the end did I realise the danger I’d been in.
– Hardly had I put the phone down when it rang again.
– No sooner had I put the phone down than it rang down.
– Seldom have I read such an excelent piece of work.
– Rarely will you see such gifted performer.
– Little did I know that he planned to resign that day.
– Never before has the city looked so magnificent.
– Only then did I realise how unhappy she had been.
– Not only have you missed a weeks’s classes, but you have also failed to hand in any work.