English as a Second Language/Reported speech


QUESTION: Dear Shannon,

What is the correct way of reporting these sentences:

1. 'What was your favourite subject at school?'
They wanted to know my favourite subject was/has been at school.

2. 'What was the last book you read?'
They asked me what the last book was that I had read, or what the last book I had read was?

- 'Did you ride a camel?'
- 'Yes, I did.'

He asked me whether I had ridden a camel.
I replied yes I had done.

4. 'What was your favourite place in Morocco?'
I was asked what my favorite place was in Morocco, or what my favourite place in Morocco had been.

Thanks a lot.
Best regards,
Antoine Ghannoum

ANSWER: All of those can be correct and varies from region to region as to the most common form.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Conc. the sentences that contain two past tenses. As a rule, the past tense tense changes into the past perfect tense when reporting. So I am confused and do not know how to proceed:

Sentence 1" What is correct - to use 'was' or 'had been'

sentence 2 has 'was' and read'. Is it correct to change the two verbs into the past perfect?, i.e. "They asked me what the last book that I had read had been.", or "They asked me what the last book that I had read was.

Sentence 4, what is correct - to use 'was' or 'had been'

Here we are really splitting hairs, since both forms are used, but for the sake of simplification, I will say:

They wanted to know what my favorite subject at school had been.

They asked me what had been the last book I read.

I was asked what my favorite place in Morocco had been.

English as a Second Language

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Shannon Cole


I can answer questions related to learning the English and Spanish language.


I have taught ESL and Spanish since 1998 at the university and middle school levels. I am a native of the U.S., and have taught in both the U.S. and Mexico.

I am owner and operator of www.coleinstitute.com, an online language school.

Georgia TESOL in Action (1999)

B.A. in Spanish; M.Ed. in Language Education

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I have clients worldwide, some who want their documents proofread, and others who take lessons with me through the Internet. Some work at high-profile companies and government organizations. Besides the U.S. and Mexico, my recent students come from South Korea, Switzerland, Turkey, Colombia, Russia, Italy, Paraguay, China, Japan, the Philippines, and Saudi Arabia.

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