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§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.
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.
The Past Continuous generally remains unchanged, or is replaced by the Past Perfect Continuous.
If the Past Indefinite in direct speech denotes an action taking place at a definite moment, it remains unchanged in indirect speech.
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.
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.
(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 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.
Must is generally replaced by was to if it expresses arrangement or a kind of order.
Mighty could, would, should (as a modal verb) and ought stay the same in indirect speech, may normally changes to might.