May 11, 2011

Reported Speech

If we report what another person has said, we usually do not use the speaker’s exact words (direct speech), but reported (or indirect) speech. Therefore, you need to learn how to transform direct speech into reported speech. The structure is a little different depending on whether you want to transform a statement, question or request. Look at the following sentences:

A) Annie said: "I want to stop playing."
B) Annie asked: "Do you want to stop playing."
C) Annie shouted: "Stop playing!"

These sentences give us an example of three different types of sentences: statements (sentence A), questions (sentence B) and commands or requests (sentence C). Let's see now how we transform these types of sentences into reported speech:

A') Annie said that she wanted to stop playing.
B') Annie asked if I wanted to stop playing.
C') Annie told me to stop playing.

When transforming statements, check whether you have to change:
present tense verbs (3rd person singular)
tenses (backshift)
place and time expressions

In reported speech, you often have to change the pronoun depending on who says what. Example:
She says, “My mum doesn’t have time today.” 
She says that her mum doesn’t have time today.

A) No backshift:  Do not change the tense if the introductory clause is in Simple Present (e. g. He says). Note, however, that you might have to change the form of the present tense verb (3rd person singular).
He says, “I speak English.” 
He says that he speaks English.

B) Backshift: You must change the tense if the introductory clause is in Simple Past (e. g. He said). This is called backshift, that is, a step back in time:
He said, “I am happy.”
He said that he was happy.

The verbs could, should, would, might, must, needn’t, ought to, used to do not normally change.
He said, “She might be right.” 
He said that she might be right.

Place and Time expressions
For place and time expressions you have to check whether place and time are the same in direct and reported speech or not. If they are the same, there is no change from direct to reported speech. However, if they are different, a change of referent must occur. Therefore you always have to think which place and time expressions are logical in a certain situation. In the following table, you will find ways of transforming place and time expressions into reported speech:

An example:
Anne said: "I saw Caroline here today."
Anne said that she had seen Caroline there that day.

When transforming questions, check whether you have to change:
present tense verbs (3rd person singular)
place and time expressions
tenses (backshift)

The same as for statements applies for questions. Also note that you have to:
transform the question into an indirect question
use the interrogative pronoun (for wh-questions) or if / whether (for yes/no questions)

It is also important that you use an indirect question in reported speech, i.e. after the interrogative pronoun or whether / if,  you continue the sentence as if it were a statement (subject-verb etc.). The auxiliary verb do is not used in indirect questions:
He asked: "Where does she live?" 
He asked where she lived.

Commands, Requests and Advice
When transforming commands, check whether you have to change:
place and time expressions

For pronouns and place or time expressions see statements in reported speech. Tenses are not relevant for requests – simply use a to-infinite verb in the following pattern:
[Subj + verb + Object + To infinitive]

The introductory verbs when reporting command are, among others, tell, advise, ask, order, command, urge, and so on.
She said, "Say hello to your mum." 
She asked me to say hello to my mum.
The teacher said: "Open your books, please."
The teacher told us to open our books.

For negative requests or commands, use not to + infinite verb.
He said, "Don’t give up, Bob."
He advised Bob not to give up.

The expression Let’s + infinitive is usually reported using the verb suggest. In this case, there are various possibilities for reported speech: gerund or statement with should:
"Let’s go to the cinema," he said.
He suggested going to the cinema / He suggested that we should go to the cinema.

Exercise1, Exercise2, Exercise3, Exercise4, Exercise5, Exercise6.

No comments:

Post a Comment