Let's suppose we have a sentence:

If I see John I will tell him you are looking for him.

Now how should I put it in reported speech in the past? Like this:

Mike said that if he saw (?) John he would tell him I was (?) looking for him.

Is it correct?

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Yes, that's exactly how you should phrase it for past reported speech.

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That's correct. But you can write the following way too.

If he saw John, Mike said, he would tell him I was looking for him.

It depends on "emphatic purposes".

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  • That doesn't work well for me. It looks like you've put in a comma inappropriately to this sentence: If he saw John, Mike said he would tell him O was looking for him – Beta Decay Nov 9 '15 at 7:11

Just brainstorming here. Let's assume the fact that there could have been chances for Mike having seen John, this could be a case of future in the past. How about

Mike said that if he sees John, he would tell him I was looking for him.

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  • When it comes with the present simple, the tense is not normally changed. (For example: facts, regular actions, etc.) So normally you do the backshift like the OP's example. – Alejandro Dec 9 '15 at 11:29
  • I believe it should be "saw" – Varun Nair Jan 8 '16 at 11:32

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