If I told her I love/loved her now, she'd probably not take it seriously. ---- Usage of reported speech


If I told her I love her now, she'd probably not take it seriously.

If I told her I loved her now, she'd probably not take it seriously.

In the above sentences the speaker loves the person they're talking about as of the present, so i was wondering whether both the sentences would be applicable in this context, and whether both of them could be deemed grammatically correct.

lekon chekon

Posted 2016-03-31T16:14:09.107

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Question was closed 2016-07-31T20:04:36.700


This question was already asked see http://ell.stackexchange.com/questions/86060/i-didnt-know-ed-was-welsh-or-i-didnt-know-ed-is-welsh

– Yuri – 2016-03-31T16:17:51.140

Just one point, if I 'told' her ..., she would take.... 'Told' is your main verb in your if clause not love. To avoid confusion, I think you should use 'love' not 'loved' because you're stating a fact that is true at the present time. Consider if I told her that I loved her (once), she wouldnot take it seriously here you say you no longer love her. The rest can be found at the link in my previous comment. Good luck – Yuri – 2016-03-31T16:36:38.107

2@Yuri: But native speakers often backshift to past-tense in "reported speech" contexts. If the meaning was that the love was a thing of the past (no longer true) it would be "If I told her I'd loved her..." that is, "(that) I had loved her..." – Tᴚoɯɐuo – 2016-03-31T16:57:13.530

Actually I assumed because of the fact that we use second conditional for unreal present situation, we can use present form of love instead of past form i.e. loved because we are talking about a fact that is still true. Apart from that in many cases native speakers use simple past tense instead of past perfect with no change in meaning. – Yuri – 2016-03-31T17:10:21.457

@Yuri The simple past tense form does not always refer to past time. In such uses as reported speech and whatever vestiges of the subjunctive remain, the past tense form is used to refer to present time. If I were you (but I'm not), I wouldn't do that. – Alan Carmack – 2016-03-31T17:14:41.580

Yea, but I thought maybe this is not true about an embedded sentence. "I loved/love her" is an embedded sentence which states a fact. If I told you the earth went/goes round the sun, I thought maybe because we're talking about a fact as an embedded sentence we can avoid going one tense back. – Yuri – 2016-03-31T17:20:38.837

Does that make sense or sound weird? I'm not sure! I need a native speaker to tell me that. – Yuri – 2016-03-31T17:31:40.967

The truth of the statement is not at issue: I told her the earth was flat. I told her the earth was a sphere. We use was there not because of any unreality but because of "told". – Tᴚoɯɐuo – 2016-03-31T17:39:04.060

@ TRomano & AlanCarmack you are saying "I told her the earth is a sphere" is a grammatical error and it must be was. Am I right? – Yuri – 2016-03-31T17:44:34.217


@TRomano In ESL we used to teach that back-shifting was unnecessary in some cases. http://dictionary.cambridge.org/grammar/british-grammar/reported-speech-indirect-speech

– Cascabel – 2016-03-31T19:11:37.410

1No, I wouldn't classify it as "grammatical error" at all. But its emphasis is on what was told rather than on the fact that it was told. It's almost a self-quoting: I said to her, "the earth is a sphere". It uses the verb told in a lax manner. – Tᴚoɯɐuo – 2016-03-31T19:14:05.027

1@Yuri Backshifting is optional in that example, as it often is. That doesn't mean the odds of doing so are 50/50, just that both forms are okay. – snailplane – 2016-03-31T19:29:11.943

@ TRomano & snailboat Oh, I see. Then when we don't do backshifting we emphasize that something is a current phenomenon but when we do, we simply report something was told or asked. (I know the general rules of backshifting though) Technically both are correct. I hope I got it right now. Thank you all ☺ – Yuri – 2016-03-31T19:38:24.827

Backshift marks the statement as one already spoken. as speech that is being reported. I was present when Joe said she was a good singer. Joe did not say "was". Joe said "is". Joe said, "She is a good singer." – Tᴚoɯɐuo – 2016-03-31T22:40:13.517

@TRomano, So..should i take it that both the sentences i used are grammatically correct and the only difference between them is in the first sentence, i'm putting more emphasis on how the speaker told how they loved her, whereas in the second one i'm putting more emphasis on how the speaker loves her now. Am i wrong? – lekon chekon – 2016-04-01T19:08:27.860

By the way, people usually say "she probably wouldn't take it seriously" rather than "she'd probably not take it seriously". – snailplane – 2016-04-03T05:42:27.917



Some speakers backshift with indirect or reported speech.

I told her I loved her.

Some do not.

I told her I love her.

A speaker who normally backshifts, when he does not backshift, may be putting some additional emphasis on the actual words spoken, for whatever reason, perhaps to indicate that they're still just as true now as they were when he said them, or to get even closer to the actual words spoken, approaching a direct quote.

I told her that I love her.

What did he say to you at that meeting?
--He said I was going to regret my decision.

Of course, what he actually said was "You are going to regret your decision."


Posted 2016-03-31T16:14:09.107

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