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It's 31st of December today. I'm meeting someone on the 4th of January. Whilst talking to her the next time, do I say:

"I was worried thinking what was going to happen when we meet the next time.
(which is in 5 days, the 4th)."

or do I say:

"I was worried thinking what was going to happen when we met the next time.
(again, the 4th)"

  • I was worried thinking what was going to happen when we met the next day. – Khan Dec 31 '15 at 9:36
  • Your question seems to say two different things. You say "Whilst talking to her the next time," which means the "next time" is already here. On the other hand, you give example sentences that happen prior to the next time. – Alan Carmack Jun 28 '16 at 15:01
  • @AlanCarmackI know it's a little late for me to be asking what i'm about to ask, but if we changed "I was worried, thinking what was going to happen when we meet the next time.", would it be grammatically incorrect? Would it be grammatically incorrect to use Was, instead of IS, following the verb GOING, when using reported speech and the event is still true from the speaker's viewpoint? – lekon chekon Sep 14 '16 at 7:27
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The rules for Reported Speech apply here.

The original utterance or thought is

What is going to happen when we meet the next time.

When you report this thought, backshifting the verbs is normal, and this applies not only to meet but also to is going. So

I was worried, thinking what was going to happen when we met the next time.

Even though when you meet the next time is still to come, this is fine. This is sometimes called future-in-the-past (Cambridge dictionary), since you are talking about a future event using past tense forms.

However, when you use reported speech and the event is still true from the speaker's viewpoint, you can retain the present tense. Thus you can say

I was worried, thinking what is going to happen when we meet the next time.

Since the next time you met has not yet occurred, the speaker can use the present tense (is going and meet).

  • How do you know that the rules for reported speech apply here? – Random Dude Jun 28 '16 at 15:02
  • I know it's a little late for me to be asking what i'm about to ask, but if we changed "I was worried, thinking what was going to happen when we meet the next time.", would it be grammatically incorrect? Would it be grammatically incorrect to use Was, instead of IS, following the verb GOING, when using reported speech and the event is still true from the speaker's viewpoint? – lekon chekon Sep 14 '16 at 7:27
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"I was worried thinking...." - this is in the past.

"going to happen....the next time" - this refers to the future.

When a sentence contains two parts, and each of them are in different tenses, it is often very confusing to which tense should we add the main verb. In this context, you were worried about something that has not happened yet. So the main focus is for the event that may occur in the future. So the correct (In my opinion) version of the sentence would be :

"I was worried thinking what was going to happen when we meet the next time."

This is a very tricky situation. And many people may disagree with my opinion. But I replaced "the next time" with tomorrow and rephrased the sentence as :

"I was worried thinking what was going to happen when we meet tomorrow."

and IMO,

"I was worried thinking what was going to happen when we met tomorrow."

sounds a bit odd.

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