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Learnenglish.britishcouncil says:

I work in Italy” Reported speech: He told me that he works in Italy.

It isn’t always necessary to change the tense. If something is still true nowhe still works in Italy – we can use the present simple in the reported sentence.

That is simple present tense, what about other tenses such as future tenses?

Let say today is Monday & at 1 PM, A says "I will have lunch with Susan tomorrow".

Ok, at 2 PM, the time is still true,

Can B say "She said she will have lunch with Susan tomorrow"?

or B must say "She said she would have lunch with Susan tomorrow"? ("will" must be changed to "would" no matter the time is still true or not)

The problem is that when we say "She said she would have lunch with Susan tomorrow", we break the law of the future in the past.

This site said:

The future in the past is used to look into the future from a point of time in the past. However, this "future" event still occurred at a time before the present time.

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E.g. I woke up (1) at 8am yesterday. I was meeting my boss (2) at ten o'clock that morning, so I wouldn't be able to have lunch (3) with Susan. I wasn't going to get home (4) again until late that night.

(2), (3), (4) are all the future in the past & they had to occur before now.

However, if B says "She said she would have lunch with Susan tomorrow", then the event has not happened yet.

Note: Cambridge Grammar said:

We don’t need to change the tense in indirect speech if what a person said is still true or relevant or has not happened yet. This often happens when someone talks about the future, or when someone uses the present simple, present continuous or present perfect in their original words:

He told me his brother works for an Italian company. (It is still true that his brother works for an Italian company.)

She said she’s getting married next year. (For the speakers, the time at the moment of speaking is ‘this year’.)

He said he’s finished painting the door. (He probably said it just a short time ago.)

She promised she’ll help us. (The promise applies to the future.)

So, Does the sentence "She said she would have lunch with Susan tomorrow" break the law of the future in the past?

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These distinctions are simply guidelines but not hard-and-fast rules. The shift of tense does not indicate that the event has not taken place.

Let's say that she agreed last week to have lunch with Susan today, to discuss a business proposition. The lunch does take place. She has a sandwich. Susan has soup. If the question is about what she said, it doesn't matter whether the lunch took place or not:

When I spoke with her on the phone, she said she would have lunch with Susan today, and they did indeed have lunch. She's a woman of her word.

Not needing to change the tense when the assertion is still true does not imply the corollary that changing the tense means the assertion is now false:

He said his brother worked in Milan.

His brother may still work in Milan. The shift of tense signals that the speaker is reporting the speech of another, not making the assertion himself.

  • Sorry, my question is: In indirect speech, can "She said she would have lunch with Susan tomorrow" break the law of the future in the past? – Tom May 10 '17 at 10:26
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    There is no such absolute "law". I phoned him to invite him to the party tonight, but he couldn't attend. He was picking his parents up at the airport today and they are|were going to visit his sister tomorrow and needed to rest. Despite "tomorrow", we could say "and they are going" or "and they were going". The past would suggest the speaker is still reporting what was said, the present, making an assertion. Notice that the time words (today, tomorrow) are reporter-listener-centric in reported speech. – Tᴚoɯɐuo May 10 '17 at 10:42
  • But the site vivquarry.com/wkshts/narrative.html says, the future in the past occurred before now. If the event will happen after now, then you use "is going to do", why use "was going to"? – Tom May 10 '17 at 10:49
  • As I wrote, "The past [were going to...needed] would suggest the speaker is still reporting what was said, the present [are going to....need], making an assertion." Either one would be idiomatic. Grammar is expressive, not restrictive. (I should have added need|needed as an option above) – Tᴚoɯɐuo May 10 '17 at 11:06

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