18 Consecutio Temporum and reported speech - the sequence of tenses

First of all, let's have a look at the topic itself. The title seems to promise something really difficult. It's not as difficult as the title - we promise. You probably have an idea, what reported speech is. Everyone of us has at some point of time told about something, someone else had said before.

Examples for reported speech
  She says: "He goes to work."
  She says that he goes to work.
  He said: "He went to work."
  He said that he had gone to work.
  We said: "They will go home soon."
  We said that they would soon go home.

There is a well defined system behind this to make everyone understand, which event of the described ones happened in which sequence.
Nothing else happens in consecutio temporum, only that it is not about something said, but about something imagined (thought, anticipated in one way or another).

Examples for consecutio temporum
  She thinks: "He goes to work."
  She thinks that he goes to work.
  He thought: "He went to work."
  He thought that he had gone to work.
  We thought: "They will go home soon."
  We thought that they would soon go home.

The French system is not very different from the English one. Therefore, there is no reason to worry. One thing special in French is - also in the sequence of tenses - the subjonctif. We will come back to this later.




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