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In reported speech, backshifting changes "He said, 'Your car is red.'" to "He said your car was red".

What's that called when it's not part of reported speech? E.g. "I thought your car was red" instead of "I thought your car is red".

According to the definitions I've found, backshifting is connected to reported speech.

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    Why do you think that your example isn't reported speech? Thinking verbally behaves like speech, even in Comics .oO Think bubbles – jk - Reinstate Monica Mar 31 at 8:06
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    It's still backshifting, whether the clause is dependent on a verb of speech or a verb of thinking/knowing/etc. -- the phenomenon is the same. – TKR Mar 31 at 16:58
  • @jk-ReinstateMonica Because before saying "I thought your car was red" I don't literally think "Your car is red". "Reported speech" seems to be a very misleading name because it's far too narrow if backshifting is always connected to reported speech, and reported speech is not always about speech. Does it really mean reported knowledge? – CJ Dennis Mar 31 at 22:21
  • In a complement, tense is dispensable much of the time. For instance, gerunds and infinitives are probably the most common types of complement clauses, and they're tenseless. Since many constructions allow either an infinitive or a that-clause, the tense used is mostly irrelevant, and both present and past get used in that-clauses because it doesn't matter. It probably shouldn't be called backshifting because it isn't dependent on the tense of the main clause. – jlawler Apr 1 at 2:01

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