I learnt in school today that in reporting questions we always use the same change of tenses as in reported statements. But is is 100% always the rule? I can think of one example when it feels wrong and I wonder if my feelings don't deceive me.

For question "what do you do?" is reported speech "he asked what she did" valid? It seems strange.. If I was in real life situation I would instinctively say "asked what she was doing" because it seems more appropriate for the meaning of "what do you do" question.

1 Answer 1


Without a full description on exactly what you were taught, can't tell how right or wrong it might be. As for your example: yes, your first version is valid.

The two sentences you described mean different things. In the first example, the question is about what she does in general, in the present (note: this could mean different things in different contexts):

-What do you do? [He asked what she did]

-I'm an accountant, I type on a keyboard all day.

The second one asks what she's doing right now, in this specific moment:

-What are you doing? [He asked what she was doing]

-I'm making myself a sandwich.

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