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INDIRECT SPEECH




1. In contrast todirect speech, in which the exact words of the speaker are given,indirect speech is a form of utterance in which these words are reported.

2. When direct speech is converted into indirect speech the following changes are introduced:

1. The quotation marks and the comma (or colon) are omitted.

2. If the speaker reports somebody else's words the pronouns of the 1st person are replaced by those of the 3rd person; the pronouns of the 2nd by those of the 1st or 3rd.

He said, "I am ready."

He said he was ready.

If the speaker reports his or her own words, the pronouns are naturally not changed:

I said, "I am ready."

I said I was ready

3. If the verb in the principal clause is in the past tense, demonstrative pronouns and adverbials expressing nearness are replaced by words expressing distance:

Here is replaced by there.

This by that, these by those.

Now by then, at that time (moment), or no adverb is used at all.

Today is replaced by that day.

Yesterday by the day before or on the previous day.

Ago by before.

A year ago by a year before.

Last night by the previous night.

Direct Speech Indirect Speech
She said, "We have beenhere for a week." She said they had beenthere for a week.
She said, "1 met themyesterday." She said she had met themthe day before
She said, "We can't settle anything now." She said they could not settle anything at that moment (then).

If the speaker speaks in the same place and at the same time as the speaker whose words are reported, the demonstrative pronouns and adverbs are not changed.

An hour ago he said he would comehere tonight.

I told him I wouldn't give him an answer tilltomorrow. (Wilde)

4. If the verb in the principal clause is in the past tense, the tenses are changed according to the rule of the sequence of tenses.

The Present Indefinite is replaced by the Past Indefinite.

She said, "We oftenwrite letters." She said they oftenwrote letters.
The Present Continuous is replaced by the Past Continuous.
She said, "Weare writing a letter." She said theywere writing a letter.
The Present Perfect is replaced by the Past Perfect.
She said, "Wehave justwritten a letter." She said theyhad justwritten a letter.
The Present Perfect Continuous is replaced by the Past Perfect Continuous.
She said, "Wehave been writing for an hour." She said theyhad been writing for an hour.
The Past Indefinite is replaced by the Past Perfect.  
She said, "Wewrote a letter last night." She said theyhad written a letter on the previous night.

 



The Past Continuous generally remains unchanged, or is replaced by the Past Perfect Continuous.

She said, "Iwas writing at 5 o'clock." She said shewas (had been) writing at 5 o'clock.
  The Past Perfect remains unchanged.
She said, "Wehad written the letter by 5 o'clock." She said theyhad written the letter by 5 o'clock.
The Past Perfect Continuous remains unchanged.
She said, "Wehad been writing for an hour by 5 o'clock." She said theyhad been writing for an hour by 5 o'clock.
The Future Indefinite is replaced by the Future Indefinite in the Past.
She said, "We'll write a letter tomorrow." She said theywould write a letter the next day.
The Future Continuous is replaced by the Future Continuous in the Past.
She said, "We'll be writing at 5 o'clock." She said theywould be writing at 5 o'clock.
The Future Perfect is replaced by the Future Perfect in the Past.
She said, "We'll have written the letter by 5 o'clock." She said theywould have written the letter by 5 o'clock.
The Future Perfect Continuous is replaced by the Future Perfect Continuous in the Past.
She said, "We'll have been writing for 2 hours by 5 o'clock." She said theywould have been writing for 2 hours by 5 o'clock.

 

If the Past Indefinite in direct speech denotes an action taking place at a definite moment, it remains unchanged in indirect speech.



She said, "Ihad left home before the telegramcame." She said shehad left home before the telegramcame.
The Past Indefinite after since generally remains unchanged.
She said, "Ihave been writing since Icame." She said shehad been writing since shecame.

 

It is not always necessary to change the tense of the verb, if the verb in the principal clause is in the past.

If something is reported that is still true, there is no need to change the tense.

Tom said, "New Yorkis bigger than London."

Tom said (that) New Yorkis (was) bigger than London.

But if there is a difference between what was said and what is really true, the tense of the verb must be changed.

For example, you met Cathy. Cathy said, "John is ill". Later that day you see John playing tennis and looking well. You say, "I'm surprised that you are playing tennis, John. Cathy said you were ill."

5. When sentences containing the Subjunctive Mood are converted into indirect speech the form of the verb usually remains unchanged.

However, there is a case when the rule of the sequence of tenses is observed: if we have the analytical subjunctive with the mood auxiliary may, may is changed into might if the verb in the principal clause stands in a past tense.

Direct Speech Indirect Speech
Ishould be discharged if Iwere seen speaking to you. (Shaw) She said that shewould be discharged if shewere seen speaking to him.
It is true I drink, but Ishouldn't have taken to that if thingshad gone differently. (Maugham) He admitted that he drank, but said he would not have taken to that if things had gone differently.

 

Direct Speech Indirect Speech
I think cheerfulness is a fortune in itself. I wish Ihad it. (Eliot) She thought cheerfulness was a fortune in itself. She wished shehad it.
Oh, how I wish Ihad neverseen him! (Hardy) She said she wished shehad never seen him.
The boys will think none the worse of you whatever youmay have done.(Conan Doyle) He said that the boys would think none the worse of him whatever hemight have done.

6. The verb introducing direct speech is replaced by another verb which shows whether the indirect speech is a statement, a question, an order (request) or an exclamation.

Shesaid, "I've never seen the like of it." Shedeclared she had never seen the like of it.
Shesaid to him, "Do you know them?" Sheasked him if he knew them.
Shesaid to him, "Come here at once!" Shetold him to come at once.
Shesaid, "Why, I never expected he would do such a thing." Sheexclaimed she had never expected he would do such a thing.

(For detailed treatment see 3, 4, 5, 7.)

 

7. It should be borne in mind that there is a great difference between the style of direct and that of indirect speech.

Direct speech is characterized by a certain looseness of structure and is more emotional than indirect speech.

Indirect speech, on the contrary, is characterized by rigid logic of structure and terseness.

Accordingly, if, for instance, no conjunctions expressing causal relations are to be found in direct speech, they must be introduced into indirect speech.

She said, "I am so tired! I've been writing for five hours "

She said she was very tiredas she had been writing for five hours

If certain words and phrases are repeated in direct speech, they must not be reproduced in indirect speech.

 

She said to him, "It's very kind of you to offer to help me, very kind indeed." She said it was very kind of him to offer to help her.
So and such are replaced by very, exceedingly etc. in exclamatory sentences.
She said, "Jane plays the pianosowell!" She said Jane played the pianoverywell.
She said, 'Jane issuch a good pianist!" She said Jane was anexceedingly (very) good pianist.
  Interjections must be replaced by suitable adverbial modifiers.
She said,"Alas! I'll never be happy again!" She exclaimedin despair she would never be happy again.
  8. Must, as a rule, remains unchanged in indirect speech if it expresses advice (order) or a supposition bordering on assurance ( ).
She said to him, "Youmust be more careful." (advice) She told him hemust be more careful.
She said, "Youmust be very fond of music if you go to concerts so often." (supposition) She said hemust be very fond of music if he went to concerts so often.

She was informed that shemust never again walk much. (Hardy)

He said he was afraid youmust think him ungrateful. (Marryat)

Mr. Brownlow smiled and said that Mr. Grimwig was an old friend of his and hemust not mind his being a little rough in his manners. (Dickens)

Must is generally replaced by had to if it expresses necessity arising out of circumstances.

She said, "Imust get up early every She said shehad to get up early every
morning." morning.

 

Must is generally replaced by was to if it expresses arrangement or a kind of order.

She said, "Imust ring him up at two She said shewas to ring him up at
o'clock." two o'clock.

Mighty could, would, should (as a modal verb) and ought stay the same in indirect speech, may normally changes to might.


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