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?


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 '17 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 '17 at 12:36

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