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For the sentence -

The rock star asked me, "Would you sing the song with me?

Would the reported speech be -

(a) The rock star asked me if I would sing the song with him.

OR

(b) The rock star asked me if I would have sung the song with him.

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  • Which one do you think is the correct answer? What is confusing you?
    – Billy Kerr
    Feb 25, 2023 at 14:12

2 Answers 2

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The answer is a.

You can only backshift those modals which have a past form (even when that past form can also be used independently): will-> would, can-> could, and for some speakers shall->should and may->might.

The other modals (including would) don't have corresponding past forms, and aren't changed when backshifting.

So your b) corresponds to the direct question "Would you have sung the song with me?" which is a counterfactual question: "If (some unspecified condition, which didn't happen), would you have sung the song with me?"

In some contexts, would have could be a backshifted form of will have, eg "He asked me if I would have finished the book by the time he arrived", but that doesn't make much sense in your examplee.

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If it was a polite request - "Would you [like to] sing with me?" - the reported version would be He asked me if I would sing with him.

If it was a conditional - "Would you sing with me if you didn't have a sore throat/had had more time to practise/...etc?" you could use He asked me if I would have sung with him if I hadn't had a sore throat/...etc.

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