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The boy pleaded that he had not stolen the book.

The Options given are

  1. The boy said "I don't steal the book". 

  2. The boy said "I didn't steal the book". 

  3. The boy said "I haven't stolen the book". 

  4. The boy said "I hadn't stolen the book".

I am aware of that the simple past, past perfect and present perfect in direct speech change into the past perfect in reported speech, if the reporting verb is in the past tense. So, here it seems that second, third and fourth options can be correct answers.

But a book(by a non native speaker) says only third option is right. Is it right? Could you explain to me what the correct answer is?

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  • 5
    To this native speaker, #2, #3, and #4 are grammatically plausible, but #2 is the simplest and most logical.
    – stangdon
    Commented Dec 13, 2016 at 12:38
  • @stangdon Does this question have only one correct answer as per the options? Commented Dec 13, 2016 at 13:03
  • 3
    @Nagendra: No. It means whoever set this test is incompetent, and shouldn't be in the business of teaching English. Commented Dec 13, 2016 at 14:44
  • 1
    @Nagendra - As I said, all of them are possible correct answers. But I cannot conceive of any way in which #3 is the only correct answer.
    – stangdon
    Commented Dec 13, 2016 at 14:55

1 Answer 1

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I disagree with your books. The second, third, and forth could be the direct speech of

The boy pleaded that he had not stolen the book.

The second option is correct because past simple will be past perfect in reported speech.

The third option is also correct because present perfect will be past perfect in reported speech.

The forth option is also correct because past perfect stays past perfect in reported speech

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