tenses

Which are correct:

1) I was angry with you because you took John's best suit and wore it to the dance, but the next day he told me that he wanted you to do what you did.

2) I was angry with you because you took John's best suit and wore it to the dance, but the next day he told me that he wanted you to do what you had done.

3) I was angry with you because you took John's best suit and wore it to the dance, but the next day he told me that he'd wanted you to do what you did.

4) I was angry with you because you took John's best suit and wore it to the dance, but the next day he told me that he'd wanted you to do what you'd done.

 

Gratefully,

Navi

 

 

Original Post

Navi,

I'm working under the assumption that all of these sentences are intended to mean the same thing, which is that John told me that, at the time you wore his suit to the dance, it was something he wanted you to do.  Not just that he didn't mind, but that this was something that he actively wanted.  The question of when to backshift tenses and when not to can be a tricky one, and I won't be surprised if I hear some differing opinions.

Of the four, I like (3) best.  It means that the day after you did what you did (that is, wore the suit), John told me that, at the time, he had wanted you to do so.

I think (4) might be acceptable.  I just don’t like it.  It definitely conveys that the wanting preceded the telling, but to me it also suggests that the wearing preceded the wanting.

(2) means something else entirely.  It means that, at the time John spoke to me, he wanted you to do the same thing you had done earlier.

I’m good with (1).  Most people would interpret it to mean the same as (3).  It is theoretically possible to mean the same as (2), but I don’t believe any reasonable person would do so.

This works far better than any of those:

5: I was angry with you because you took John's best suit and wore it to the dance, but the next day he told me that he'd wanted you to do so.

And this works even better:

6: I was angry with you because you took John's best suit and wore it to the dance, but the next day he told me that he'd wanted you to.

DocV

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