'Do you understand the instructions?'

What is the proper reported speech for the above mentioned sentence?

The teacher asked us if we understand the instructions.


The teacher asked us if we understood the instructions.

1 Answer 1


The teacher asked us if we understood the instructions.

This is correct. While converting to reported speech, we must backshift the entire sentence. We can't backshift just one part of it.

"The teacher asked" has backshifted the sentence by one tense. So the remaining part of the sentence must also be backshifted into past tense.

Thus "understand" is wrong.

This of similar to :

I ate breakfast at 9


He said that he had eaten his breakfast at 9

Since the original sentence is already in past tense, we convert it to past perfect.

"He said that he ate his breakfast at 9" wouldn't be fully correct

You can read about backshifting here : https://www.englishgrammar.org/reported-speech-backshifting/

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