I made up the following situation:

There are 3 friends named A, B and C.
One day A says to B: "I am off to Africa next week." A couple of days later B says to C: "C, I met A the other day. She told me she was off to Africa this week."

Is what B says correct? Does "was off" make sense and still have to do with "leave"?

1 Answer 1


Yes, it still makes sense. There is no reason why be off to would change its basic meaning, just because the speaker (and so grammatical person) or tense has changed.

The was is fine, following standard tense backshifting used with indirect reported speech. However, as you may know, backshift is sometimes seen as optional, particularly in less formal English. So you could also substitute is for was.

  • Are "He asked her when she was off to Africa?" and "He asked her when she would be off to Africa?" correct?
    – Vova
    Dec 19, 2020 at 0:56
  • Yes. If backshifting is followed, the latter suggests that the real-life question asked was "when will you be off to Africa"?
    – legatrix
    Dec 19, 2020 at 7:10

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