What is a verb tense shift?

1 Answer
Feb 8, 2016

It is a change of verbs' tenses between direct speech and indirect speech. See explanation.


A verb tense shift is a process of changing verb tenses when transferring between direct speech and indirect speech.

In direct speech you cite other people's words direct in quotation marks.

In indirect speech you say what other people say in other way.


Direct speech: Tom said "I am ill."
Indirect speech Tom said, that he was ill.

Direct speech: Kate said "I will marry Tom."
Indirect speech: Kate said, that she would marry Tom.

The tense shift usually is one step "backward". This means that Present tense in direct speech changes to corresponding past tense, Past tense can either change to Past perfect or remain unchanged.


Direct speech: Mike said: "I was home at 8 p.m."

Indirect speech: Mike said, that he had been/was home at 8 p.m."

In future tense forms will changes to would, and shall to should.