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if I say

  1. I told you to wait until he came back.
  2. I told you to wait until he comes back.

which one is correct? if both sounds nothing wrong to you, what's the difference?

1 Answer 1

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There are two issues here, one is past tense vs. present tense and the other is back-shifting reported speech.

I told you, "Wait until he comes back."

If I change this to reported speech, I can backshift the verb tense within the quote to be in the past tense:

I told you to wait until he came back.

Without any context, we can't know the relative time frame of all these events. Has he come back yet or not?

I told you to wait until he came back.

(Reported speech of something I told you in the past, but it's unclear whether he has come back yet or not)

I told you to wait until he comes back.

(Reported speech of something I told you in the past, and he hasn't yet come back)

You can use either, because the person you're talking to knows the context -- when they were told, whether "he" has come back, etc.

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