ASK DOCTOR DOROTHY PASTENSE FULLSTOP: SOME QUICK QUESTIONS

 

How do you do reported speech with conditionals? 

 

This question has rather important now we have the feature and quizzes regarding conditionals.

 

First, if you did not already know, reported speech is when we talk about something that was said in the past and we are telling somebody about it now. For example, 'I like tennis'. What did he say? He said he liked tennis. (NOT: He said I like tennis. This is known as direct speech.)

 

Now it confuses students when it comes to reporting on conditionals as this can change the form from a particular conditional to another. (See the book for a [not too detailed] explanation on conditionals.) But in true TEE style, we will try to explain how it is done.

 

So we will start with the zero conditional:

Fred: If you, Belinda, have a lot of money, you can buy a car.

Fred said that if Belinda has a lot of money, she can buy a car. (This was and still is true)

Fred said that if Belinda had a lot of money, she could buy a car. (This is talking about something said in the past which was true at the time of speaking.)

 

The first conditional:

Louise: If we don't hurry, the shop will close and we won't be able to buy any milk.
Louise said that if they don't hurry, the shop will close and they won't be able to buy any milk. (This was reported almost immediately: the shop is still open and it is still possible to buy some milk)

Louise said that if they didn't hurry, the shop would close and they wouldn't be able to buy any milk. (This was reported a while ago, and what has been said may now be out of date, with the possible result being that the shop is now closed and there is no milk.)

 

The second conditional:

Clara: If I won the lottery, I would buy a boat. (Which could happen in the future)
Clara said that if she won the lottery, she would buy a boat. (What she said was true. She still might win the lottery and still might buy a boat)
Clara said that if she had won the lottery, she would have bought a boat. (This was reported a while ago and is now out of date. She had not won the lottery at the time of her speaking. It may be unlikely, but she may have won something since she said this)

 

With the third conditional there is no change in the form. The unreal past situation does not change after reporting it. So for example: If I had known it was half price, I would have bought it, simply becomes Brian said that if he had known it was half price, he would have bought it.

 

If an intelligent creature, or citizen, from the planet Mars is a Martian, then what is a citizen of Earth? 

 

You really want me to answer that? Aren't there more interesting things about the English language we can discuss?

Oh well, here we go.

 

This one is purely a matter of opinion and I'm sure some will disagree on the name we should give for humans from the planet Earth . I personally don't want to be referred to as an 'Earthling' or 'Earther' - these just sound a bit too sci-fi (don't get me wrong, I like Sci-fi), and is also a bit anglocentric. But so is the word Martian, so perhaps I can't really use that as an argument.

 

There are two contenders. One is Gaian (which seems to have its roots in... oh you read it for yourself), and the other, which has its roots from Latin and is commonly used in popular fiction and TV is Terran. Many Western languages are Latin-based, and so would perhaps make it a popular choice.

 

So a human from Earth, or a citizen of Earth, (Latin name: Terra) is a Terran

 

Well, it just sounds so much better than Earthling.

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