Level 3 Unit 3 Lesson07: What Did He Say?
‘Backshift’ refers to the changes we make to the original verbs in reported (indirect) speech because time has passed between the moment of speaking and the time of the report. For example, the present (is) becomes the past (was), the future (will) becomes would. The tenses ‘shift’ or ‘move back’ in time. Modal verbs, such as can or should, do not ‘shift back’ in time or change in reported speech. Study the following examples: