I have some questions about noun clause:

  1. The manager asked me .......... in my present job.

a. how long I have been working

b. how long I had been working

My problem with above questions is what actually the manager said and what we must choose between the answers. I somewhere saw that the answer is b. But I want to know what the manager really said. Did he really said "b" or the answer is "b because of ask"ed".

My second question: Is this sentence grammatically correct?:

  1. I want to know did he really say that. (Correct / Not Correct)

in other way: Can we say "I want to know did he ..." instead of "I want to know wether he ... or not"?

  • Did you read anything about the reported questions?
    – V.V.
    Dec 25 '16 at 11:29
  • These are two questions in one. The second one should be posted separately.
    – Tsundoku
    Dec 25 '16 at 13:07

A: How long have you been working in your present company?

B: I have working for last 5 years. (Or A could just say "5 years")

But this is conversational. We need to write a declarative sentence out of this. So we come up with the following sentence -

A asked B how long B had been working for his/her present company.

The verb of the subordinate clause have to be in the past tense - had - to agree with the verb of the superordinate clause - asked.

There is another logic for accepting had and rejecting have there. The process of asking is over, it's in the past. So in the past conversation A used have, but now when we are talking about the past event we need to use the past tense - had.

In the following sentence -

A asked B how long B had been working for his/her present company.

The part - how long B had been working for his/her present company - is a subordinate clause. It's called Embedded Interrogative clause.

You asked if the following sentence is correct -

I want to know did he really say that. [INCORRECT]

It's not correct sentence. We need a subordinator to introduce a subordinating clause. This subordinating clause is not like the one we discussed earlier. The earlier one was Embedded Interrogative clause, but this one is not like that. It's true that it's also an interrogative clause. But here in this case we must use a subordinator to introduce this clause.

I want to know if/whether he said that.


In direct speech, the question would be: "How long have you been working in your present job."

Your question requires that you know how to turn this into indirect speech. In this case, you need to turn the present perfect continuous ("you have been working") into a past perfect continuous ("you had been working"). See also Tense Changes When Using Reported Speech.

So the correct answer to the question is b.

Here are a few more examples of the past perfect continuous:

  • "She asked how long I had been waiting and whether I enjoyed living here, he said." (PDF file on Ceredigion County Council's website, 1996)
  • "When, at the start of the presentation of my new William the Conqueror, in the Yale University Press English Monarchs series, to the University of Exeter on Wednesday 16 November, Levi Roach asked how long I had been writing the book, I was tempted to answer that it has taken both fifty years and three years to write." (David Bates on Exeter Centre for Medieval Studies blog, November 2016).
  • "The owner asked me how long I had been doing massage." (Glasdoor, Inc., no date)

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