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When we converted indirect speech to direct speech, do we change “go” to “come” ? It sounds weird….or at least not what we usually say in a conversation…..

Here is the S&T question :


Tom asked if I could go cycling with him the next day.

Tom asked me, “______________________?”




I assume the alternatives are

  1. Tom asked me, “Could you come cycling with me tomorrow?
  2. Tom asked me, “Could you go cycling with me tomorrow?

In my opinion, both are correct. 

This BBC webpage expresses a slight preference for “come”, without going so far as to say that “go” is wrong:

Note, however, that come with and not go with is normally used when we are talking about joining a movement of the speaker or hearer, even though the movement is away from their current place or position:

  • I’m going to the hospital this afternoon to get the test results. Could you come with me?
  • We’re going to Egypt for a week at Christmas . Would you like to come with us?
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Not changing ‘could’ to ‘can’ is a basic mistake and would cost you the two marks in the PSLE.

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“Could you come with me” is perfectly correct. If not, then the BBC site I quoted is also wrong (it gives “Could you come with me?” as an example).

Google “could vs can” and see for example these online discussions: 1, 2, 3 ,4. Informally the difference is that “could” is ‘more polite’ and leaves the person answering the question more room to back out. Formally “could” is the subjunctive mood.

Perhaps this is an arbitrary “rule” invented by the setters of the PSLE. But if so, they are wrong. (Though of course, in Singapore, getting things right is less important than giving the teacher the answer she wants and getting your marks on an exam.)

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I very precisely stated ‘PSLE examiners require’ which is what the original poster wanted to know.

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Thanks !


In this case, will the student be marked wrong if he writes :


Tom asked me, “can you go cycling with me tomorrow?”


That is, without change “go” to “come” ?

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PSLE examiners require:

Tom asked me, “Can you come cycling with me tomorrow?”

The ‘me’ after asked is optional. It is essential that the verb ‘could’ is changed to ‘can’ and ‘go’ to ‘come’.

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