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I'd like to ask if we shift the tense when we report a sentence in which who is subject of the sentence.

For example :

Who came to meet you at the airport?

I saw that it is reported on Cambridge Dictionary grammar notes as

I asked them who came to meet them at the airport.

Is this correct or typo and it should have been

I asked them who had come to meet them at the airport.

And how to report the following questions ?

Who called me?

How many people came?

Which machine went wrong?

She asked me who............

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Here is a list of the rules for reported speech for each tense, with a good selection of examples.

This is the 'beginner' version and you won't go wrong if you stick to it when you say things, but for informal use there is one exception: for past simple, past simple is also allowed. This is an example:

Who came to meet you at the airport? - direct

I asked them who had come to meet them at the airport. - indirect- formal

I asked them who came to meet them at the airport. - indirect - informal

Similarly, for the three examples you asked about

I asked her who had called me -formal

I asked her who called me -informal

I asked her how many people had come -formal

I asked her how many people came - informal

I asked her which machine had gone wrong - formal

I asked her which machine went wrong - informal

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Grammar

I think all of the following combinations are allowed:

  • past + past
  • past + past perfect
  • past perfect + past perfect

This is what sounds correct to my native ear.

Examples

Who came to meet you at the airport?

  • I asked them who came to meet them at the airport.
  • I asked them who had come to meet them at the airport.
  • I asked them who had come to meet them at the airport.

Who called me?

  • I asked them who called me.
  • I asked them who had called me.
  • I had asked them who had called me.

How many people came?

  • I asked them how many people came.
  • I asked them how many people had come.
  • I had asked them how many people had come.

Which machine went wrong?

  • (This sentence doesn't make sense. Do you mean, "which machine broke?")
  • Thank you. Yes I meant " ...machine become broke" – Mrt Apr 16 '16 at 15:29
  • Does " I asked him who had called me" make a sense btw – Mrt Apr 16 '16 at 15:31
  • Yes, that makes sense too. I will add it to my answer. – AdmiralAdama Apr 16 '16 at 15:44
  • @AdmiralAdama, go wrong means to malfunction. See this link and carry on down to the go wrong section: dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/wrong?q=go+wrong – JavaLatte Apr 16 '16 at 17:17
  • @JavaLate Hey Java. Inanimate objects, such as machines, can't "go wrong". It has to be something that happened. Something went terribly wrong = Valid. The machine went terribly wrong = Invalid. The machine malfunctioned and was giving errors and spewing smoke. = Valid. – AdmiralAdama Apr 16 '16 at 20:02

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