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I would like to ask a question about the future in the past and the adverbial clause used in the sentence which indicates the future.

I know we can indicate future in the past, for example by using "would" or "might" like in the sentences "John said that he would take the examination next year." or "Peter said that he might come tomorrow."

If an adverbial clause is added in the sentences, how can we construct correct sentences?

"John said that he would take the examination before he [entered/would enter?] the university next year." "Peter said that he might come if he [had done?] his homework tomorrow."

Although my textbook says that tenses in subordinate clauses should be usually the same as the tense in the main clause, the adverbial clauses in the above sentences indicate events in the future and I feel it seems strange to use the past tense to indicate the future event.

How can you say in that case?

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Direct speech

Peter: "I may come if I do my homework tomorrow."

Indirect speech by backshifting:

Peter said (that) he might come if he did his homework the next day.

Also, see this.

  • Thank you for your answer. So, according to what you say, are the following sentences correct? "John said that he will take the examination before he enters the university next year." "Peter said that he may come if he have done his homework tomorrow." – Motoki Dec 3 '18 at 5:22
  • @Motoki, The time of reporting is important. If, for example, the reporter reports what John said on the same day, then the tense can be left unchanged (and "John said that he will take the examination before he enters the university next year" is grammatical). It's important if the statement being reported is still up to date or not. – apadana Dec 3 '18 at 5:47
  • @Motoki, also pay attention to the change of "tomorrow" to "the next day" when doing backshifting. – apadana Dec 3 '18 at 5:53
  • I got it. It's important if the statement being reported is still up to date or not. I'm sorry for repeating questions, but, is it possible to use the past tense in the statement being reported (in the main clause) and the present tense in the adverbial clause at the same time, like "John said that he [would] take the examination before he [enters] the university next year.", or "Peter said that he [might] come if he [have done] his homework tomorrow."? – Motoki Dec 3 '18 at 8:26
  • @Motoki, they don't seem to be correct, though I'm not completely sure. Are these examples from your textbook? – apadana Dec 3 '18 at 9:50

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