Please take a look,at this sentence

I met him last summer and I asked him what he was doing over here and he said he'd come over to release a single and I thought.....

" He said he had come over here" is reported sppeech , but is it a backshift of "I came over" or did he answer "I had come over"

I think it is not a backshift as the man had arrived before the narrator met him Am I right ? If I am wrong let me know why

  • Whether it's a backshift or not, he had come over there before he said it, right? Feb 25, 2015 at 16:25

2 Answers 2


The past perfect can be reported speech of the present perfect.

"He said he had come over" sounds like a backshift of

"I have come over to release a single."

If the original was in the simple past,

"I came over,"

it is an option to backshift the simple past, but it is not a requirement.

  • 1
    There's also a useful (it seems to me) table here. Section 4. Feb 25, 2015 at 21:19

It would be a backshift of "I came over". If we rewrite the sentence in present tense, it would look something like this.

"So, what are you doing over here?" I asked.

"I came over to release a single." he replied.

If he had said "I had come over...", that would be past perfect tense, which implies that he came over and then he left. When you say

I asked him what he was doing here...

that implies you are both here, or at least, you were both there at the time you asked him the question. If you are both here at the moment, he couldn't have left yet.

Also, this is unrelated to your main question, but the sentence you used is a run-on-sentence. Here is one of many different ways you could rewrite this.

When I met him last summer, I asked him what he was doing over here. He said he'd come over to release a single. I thought...

  • So why did the narrator backshift was it necessary?
    – Yves Lefol
    Feb 25, 2015 at 18:06
  • 1
    I'm afraid I don't know. Having grown up speaking English, my test for whether or not something is correct is mainly just saying it out loud and seeing if it sounds right or not. You ELL's ask a lot of good questions, and I feel like I learn just as much from trying to answer a question as you guys do getting your question answered. You could check out δοῦλος's link.
    – DJMcMayhem
    Feb 25, 2015 at 18:21
  • Or this link.
    – DJMcMayhem
    Feb 25, 2015 at 18:23
  • There is no run-on sentence. The clauses are connected with and. Feb 25, 2015 at 21:13

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