I have a question that says: Report the following sentence-

‘Tomorrow we’re starting a new project,’ the teacher told us. [Direct Speech]

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According to the rules:

  • (tense): present continuous (changes to) past continuous

  • (pronouns): we (to) they

  • (time): tomorrow (to) the next day

The sentence should become:

The teacher told us the next day they were starting a new project.

Is it correct to change "we" into "they" in the above example?

Thank you.


1 Answer 1


You need to think about what the teacher means by "we". From the perspective of the teacher, "we" means "I and you and the other students".

When you report this, you change perspective, "I" becomes "Her", "you" becomes "I" and "the other students" is still "the other students".

So the teacher's "we" will become our "Her and I and the other students". But This is also "we" (from our perspective, it is "I and others") So you would report

The teacher told us that we were starting a new project.

Your mistake is to think about this as an exercise in mechanical substitution of words. Instead, it is a matter of understanding and reporting what happened. You must think of the meaning.

(I don't agree with the comment that this is ambiguous in any significant way. It is possible that the teacher's "we" actually means "I and some other people" in which case from your perspective it would be "Her and some other people", or "they". But this reading seems very unlikely, the teacher is addressing her class is the implied context. Reading it in any other way would be to see ambiguity where none exists.)

  • Agree. You can invent a situation where a teacher is talking about her personal life, for example, building a house for her family, but normally every listener would assume that "a new project" is schoolwork for the classroom. Commented Aug 20, 2019 at 10:01
  • Thank you for your answer. The idea is clear now.
    – Laith Leo
    Commented Aug 20, 2019 at 11:31

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