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Difficulties in Reported Speech
DIFFICULTIES IN THE REPORTED SPEECH ...
A huge number of lessons about Direct and Indirect Speeches (when conversations are reported) have been created on this site since its opening ... Excellent lessons ,test-test –test- test – so, why add to this very good multitude ?
- when you turn Direct Speech into Reported Speech, you must pay attention to TENSES and know their correspondances ...
- you should remember that ‘to say to' introduces Direct Speech and should be replaced by ‘told' in the Reported Speech.
- you mustn't forget to change the pronouns ...
The adverbs of time or place in Direct and Reported Speeches are simply ignored, sometimes even by Advanced adults or natives themselves
1) Adverbs of PLACE, object and TIME : are very often totally forgotten, even ignored ... It's true that in conversation, they are sometimes omitted, and very often used in a faulty way ... (GRRRRRrrrr ! ):BEWARE ! while taking an exam !
This => that
Here => there
Yesterday = > the day before / the preceding day
Two days ago => Two days before / the preceding days
Four months ago=> Four months before / the preceding 4 months
Today =>On that day
Last Monday morning => The Monday morning before/ the preceding Monday in the morning
Tomorrow=> the day after / the following day
Next week=> the week after / the following week
Two days later => In two days
A month later => In a month
Two years later => In two years
2) Difficulties linked to 'short answers' : 'yes', 'no', 'never' ... 'Short answers' are answers ... given to questions ! (Therefore, the subjects are not inverted...) 'Who is he ?' => 'I wonder who he is !'
- Use : 'whether' to transform a question which will bring a YES/NO answer :
- In Reported (Indirect) Speech, the auxiliary must be employed (whether it is suggested, or mentioned). : ex 1: 'Do you like them?' 'No, but I'll make an effort !' => 'She asked me if I liked them, I replied I didn't, but added I would make an effort.'
ex 2: 'Will you go out with me tonight?' ' No!' => He asked her if she would go out with him on that night, and she answered that she wouldn't.
3) Difficulties linked to modals : You have seen that some modals are 'well-behaved' with Indirect Speech. ('Can I come here?'=> She asked if she could come there. ' No problem ! Could, could have, should and should have are unchanged in the Reported Speech !
Alas, it's different for MUST and NEEDN'T... which can take several forms :
- a) NECESSITY, OBLIGATION when the action is taking place : 'I must go now'=> She said she had to go at that moment (then) ; 'I needn't go now!' => She said she didn't have to go (then);
- b) When it indicates a rule or permanent interdiction, MUST doesn't change : ex : 'Peter, you mustn't jump the red lights' => The instructor told Peter that he mustn't jump the red lights.
4) What should be done if more than two sentences are following ? plus other little difficulties ... If the Reported Speech is made up of several sentences using different grammar forms (such as an interrogative clause, an affirmative one, and an imperative one, you must adapt the introductory verbs. If the sentences give some extra information, it's necessary to write : '... adding that' ou 'x added that ...'.
ex : He asked me : 'What's your name ?' added: 'I can't bear late candidates!' and ordered :'Hurry up, and don't speak, now' ! '=> He asked me what my name was, added that he couldn't bear late candidates and ordered me to hurry up and not to speak at that moment.
Don't worry ! Most examiners are very pleasant ... In the following exercise, you'll have to choose the right Indirect Form of a sentence given in the Direct Speech. It's very easy, but be careful because there are about as many traps as possible !
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