My problem is regarding indirect speech.

She told them to raise their hands if they have a question.

Is this sentence grammatically wrong?

If this sentence is correct, is there basis or evidence?

Many students learned in their academy 'had' instead of 'have'.

So I must show them why that sentence is correct.

But I don't have any evidence or basis.

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    It should be "She told them to raise their hands if they had a question." – Peter Shor Nov 19 '18 at 2:56

Your sentence is correct. The understanding your classmates have about "had" is incorrect.

"Had" is past perfect. That means it's an event that was true, but is not currently true. Let's ignore the indirect speech for a moment, and convert the sentence to direct speech; that is, the command form.

Raise your hand if you have a question.

Compare this to:

Raise your hand if you had a question.

In this second sentence, the teacher is saying that if you had a question, but don't have a question now, you should raise your hand. This meaning is nonsense, and clearly not intended. The teacher says "have a question" because she wants you to raise your hand in order to ask the question that you still have.

Converting it into indirect speech, you must keep the same tense as the statement made in direct speech. Thus, "have" is correct.

  • "You must keep the same tense." This is wrong—and your analysis is misleading. Reported speech is always correct in the past tense. But if what is being reported is a general truth or still true, then the present tense is also fine, yet optional. (Although some people object to it anyway.) For instance, "She said the earth is round" is fine. But "My dead friend said he is hungry" is not. – Jason Bassford Supports Monica Nov 19 '18 at 6:09

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