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What would be reported speech for:

I'll tell my friends, "I have started learning computers."

Is it:

I'll tell my friends that I have started learning computers.

or:

I'll tell my friends that I had started learning computers.

  • @Sina But those rules, if I understand what you're talking about correctly, are only for tense changes after past reporting verbs! – Damkerng T. Jun 11 '16 at 8:58
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    Sure. I think the OP asked about this because they found rules for tense changes in their grammar book. – Damkerng T. Jun 11 '16 at 9:17
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Use "I'll tell my friends that I have started learning computers."
(In other words, no need to change the tense because the reporting verb is for the future time.)


Reported speech is also known as indirect speech, or as stated in Wikipedia,

Indirect speech, also known as reported speech or indirect discourse, is a means of expressing the content of statements, questions or other utterances, without quoting them explicitly as is done in direct speech.

Those rules for tense changes in most grammar books (if you read carefully, you may find that they explicitly say this in the books) are only for the case of indirect speech after past reporting verbs. (For example, in Practical English Usage by Michael Swan, 275.2 typical tense changes after past reporting verbs: willwould, simple present → simple past, present progressive → past progressive, present perfect → past perfect, past → past perfect, cancould, maymight, past perfect tenses do not change).

Here is a relevant entry from the same book:

275.5 He says, I'll tell her etc.
After present, future and present perfect reporting verbs, tenses are usually the same as in the original (because there is no important change of time).
- DIRECT: I don't want to play any more.
​  INDIRECT: He says he doesn't want to play any more.
- DIRECT: We need some help.
​  INDIRECT: I'll tell her you need some help.
- DIRECT: Taxes will be raised.
​  INDIRECT: The government has announced that taxes will be raised.


BONUS: Having said that, these rules (along with other minor points, such as change this to that, now to then, don't change tense if the sentence still holds true, and so on) mainly exist to help the learners to cope with indirect speech. In practice, you can express your thought in indirect speech as if you were going to say it as a sentence on its own.

For example, we say "He said he didn't want to play any more." because at the time we say it, we know that "he didn't want to play any more" back then. So we say "He didn't want to play any more.", or in indirect speech, "He said he didn't want to play any more."

The same goes to your example, "I'll tell my friends that I have started learning computers." You want to use I have started because at the time you say it, you have started learning computers. In other words, "you have started learning computers", so you'd say "I have started learning computers", or in indirect speech, "I'll tell my friends that I have started learning computers."

(This way of thinking will come naturally if you treat English as a two-tense system, i.e., past and non-past, but that's another story.)

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