Should you use past simple or present simple in reported speech if the reporting verb is in the past, but the action JUST happened.

Scenario: You just got off the phone with someone. Your friend who's right next to you looks at you and ask you "what did she want? " you answer: " She told me she loved me" OR "She told me she loves me".

I'm pretty mixed-up about this. I know it should be the former, and I should stick with tense consistency, but somehow I feel like the latter better conveys that the information/ action: 1. just happened (handful of seconds ago, you've hardly gotten off the phone) 2. Is still true

I mean if say the person in question had given you the call in the morning, I'd definitely use "She told me she loved me" . But in this case I'm pretty bewildered, and my take is that both are fine by and large.

Which is "more" correct and what would YOU use?

1 Answer 1


If the reported fact is still true, then it's absolutely correct (and more common) to use a present tense:

  • He told me he wants a day off. (He still wants it.)
  • She told me she loves me. (She still loves me.)

However, if you want to express doubt, use a past tense:

  • He said he's from Germany. (I believe him.)
  • He said he was from Germany, but he sounded French. (I don't believe him.)
  • thank you. That settles it then. I'd have one more thing I'd like to ask: when is it all right to use the reporting verb in present. Could I say , for instance, " He says he's from Germany ( but I don't trust him) " ?
    – Daniel
    Dec 6, 2017 at 11:04
  • @Daniel Yes, you can say that. The meaning of "he says" is more general in that case: "his general claim/opinion is...". "He said" refers to a specific situation in the past. Of course, if you use a present reporting verb, you don't use a past tense in the content clause. Dec 6, 2017 at 12:36

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