Recently in reported speech

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Is it correct to use recently in the following indirect speech:

John: I have seen it recently.

One year later ...

Ben: John said that he had seen it recently.

Mori

Posted 2015-03-04T06:44:25.283

Reputation: 2 141

Looks fine to me. Is there something specific that seems wrong to you that we can help explain? – Catija – 2015-03-04T07:03:25.503

1As far as I know recently means during the period of time that has just passed / not long ago. Since you're reporting the sentence after a year, using recently seems incorrect to me. – Mori – 2015-03-04T07:22:05.607

1"It was a year ago that John said that he had seen it recently." – None – 2015-03-04T07:44:18.190

Answers

1

Regardless of when you're telling the story, it's fine to use recently as part of the reported speech because there's generally some assumption that you've clarified at some point when the conversation occurred.

For example:

Ben: I spoke to John a year ago and he said that he'd seen it recently.

Even though a year ago wouldn't be considered to be recently, this is still OK, because you've prefaced your explanation by saying that it was recent last year. You might also emphasize the past condition of the recent statement by saying something like:

Ben: I spoke to John a year ago and, at that time, he said that he'd seen it recently.

This prevents the ambiguity that you may have spoken to John more recently than a year ago but it's not really necessary.

If you said this:

Ben: I spoke to John a month ago and he said that he'd seen it a month ago.

This becomes muddy. Did John see it a month ago or two? Depending on how it's said, it could be either... mostly because even native speakers can have trouble with this and I find that we tend to get really wordy to make sure we're clarifying as best we can.

If John had literally said, "I saw it a month ago.", this would be a correct way of reporting his speech, though it would often get further clarified by saying something more like:

Ben: I spoke to John a month ago and he said that he'd seen it the month before, so two months ago.

If you wanted to clarify that it was only one month ago, you could rephrase it more like:

Ben: I spoke to John a month ago and he said that he'd seen it a month ago, meaning he'd seen it just recently.

It may be better, though, to clarify with specific month names:

It's March.

Ben: I just spoke to John a month ago and he said that he'd seen it in January.

The important thing to remember is that, while you're not quoting the person exactly, you're still reporting generally what they said and it's good to not change that too much.

Catija

Posted 2015-03-04T06:44:25.283

Reputation: 25 211

0

I agree with Catija that you can use recently in a sentence that does not refer to an actually recent event as long as the time context is specified. However, you would probably have to create a complex sentence so that the thought is complete and concise. For example you may use something like:

"When I spoke to John a year ago, he said that he had seen it recently."

The sentence diagram for this is also complex, but that is the nature of expressing a thought like this.

Gary

Posted 2015-03-04T06:44:25.283

Reputation: 1 096