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I ask the following as a non-native English speaker.


In this question, I have trouble understanding how does "accompany me to my office" connect to anything else in the sentence.

Original sentence:

Sometimes, when we ran out of time and did not have space for any further activity, he used to tell us that should anyone need any assistance or have any query, accompany me to my office.

The sentence contains:

  • we ran out of time;
  • he used to...;
  • tell us;
  • should anyone;

and is followed by "accompany me".

My best guess is that it is just disconnected from the rest of the sentence and it should read:

"accompany him to his office"

Also, I feel that (at least) a connection word is missing ahead of the fragment, maybe it should be:

should anyone need any assistance ..., one should accompany him to his office.

3

"accompany me to my office." is an implied quote suggested earlier by "tell us". It could be made explicit by writing:

Sometimes, when we ran out of time and did not have space for any further activity, he used to tell us: "should anyone need any assistance or have any query, accompany me to my office"

This makes it clear that the sentence has moved into direct speech. Or it can be kept clearly indirect by using "accompany him to his office" as you suggested in the question. The connection here is implied, but could be made explicit with:

... he used to tell us that should anyone need any assistance or have any query, that person should accompany him to his office.

  • that is exactly what i implied, that mixing direct speech with indirect speech is "funny". I was just not sure how it is supposed to work. – virolino Mar 18 '19 at 9:50
  • @virolino The original sentence was not wrong, it jsut implied the quotation instead of making it explicit. The explicit form is clearer, but in context the implicit form is reasonably clear. – David Siegel Mar 18 '19 at 9:54
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    For me, it was not clear at all. I had to read it several times to understand it. So, is it grammatical to not use the quotation marks in this case? – virolino Mar 18 '19 at 9:57
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    I would certainly reject it, but I can see what it means so I would offer the correction of adjusting the person of the reported speech or making it clearly direct speech. Direct speech should be marked. – SamBC Mar 18 '19 at 11:05
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As it stands, it is ungrammatical. As you suggest, there should be something else that connects the phrase after the comma to what precedes it.

Purely in terms of fixing the grammar, it might become:

Sometimes, when we ran out of time and did not have space for any further activity, he used to tell us that should anyone need any assistance or have any query, they should accompany me to my office.

But in terms of also fixing the meaning, it would likely be as you suggest:

Sometimes, when we ran out of time and did not have space for any further activity, he used to tell us that should anyone need any assistance or have any query, they should accompany him to his office.


It wouldn't be grammatical if the comma were replaced with a period either. Turning the portion after the comma into its own sentence would be fine grammatically, but it would sound odd. Worse, however, is that what precedes the comma is not an independent clause, and it can't stand on its own. Should anyone need or have any query needs a conclusion.


This would be acceptable as reported speech: "Should anyone need any assistance or have any query, accompany me to my office." However, it should be noted that it would still be ungrammatical. (If we don't accept [they should] as simply being elided.) Of course, conversational English often is ungrammatical. If it were done intentionally, that would be fine.

However, I would never allow this to stand as it's written. If it is supposed to be reported speech, it should be marked as such. By all norms of punctuation (and perhaps grammar, depending on how that's viewed), there would need to be some kind of explicit indication that the second part of the sentence is speech and not just narrative.

  • "... if the the comma was replaced with a period ..."? (instead of with) – virolino Mar 19 '19 at 5:19

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