There are many sites explaining the rules of backshifting in the reported speech but I am not able to find the one for backshifting of "had to".

I had to do it, he said.

Which is the correct form in the reported speech:

  1. He said that he must have done it.
  2. He said that he had had to do it.
  3. He said that he had to do it.

Well, a sentence as short as that one presents no possible misunderstanding as to sequence of events, so you don't have to backshift. So number 3.

Another example:

"I had to move all the furniture before the guys came to shampoo the carpet," Mary said.

reported speech:

Mary said she had to move all the furniture before the guys came to shampoo the carpet.

Here, neither had to nor came is backshifted because there is no confusion over sequence of events.

Another reason is that had to is functioning as a modal verb expressing obligation. It is already the reported speech form of both have to and must (obligation). Further backshifting of had to would be rare, just like there is no further backshifting of could, which is already the backshifted form of can.

For general reference see Reported speech: indirect speech from English Grammar Today (Cambridge online)


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