Reply to "tense"

1-1. Jane said to Jim, "I didn't tell your mother anything about what you [did, had done] to Peter."

Either tense is OK, but "did" is more likely.

1-2. Jane told Jim that she hadn't told his mother anything about what he [did, had done] to Peter.

Either tense is OK but "did" is more likely.

2-1. His secretary said to him, "there were no phone calls while you were out."

2-2. His secretary told him that there had been no phone calls while he [was, had been] out.

Both are theoretically correct, but "was" is overwhelmingly more natural than "had been."

Marilyn Martin
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