Reported speech: Definition, origin, uses
The reported speech also known as indirect speech is a way of expressing what someone said without using their exact words. It is a technique used to report a conversation or a statement made by someone else, without directly quoting them. In reported speech, the tense and some other elements of the original sentence may be changed to reflect the time and perspective of the person reporting the statement. For example, if someone says “I am going to the store,” the reported speech could be “He/she said that they were going to the store.” Reported speech is commonly used in journalism, business, and everyday conversation to convey information and express the opinions and statements of others. It can also be used to express hypothetical or imaginary situations or to speculate on what someone might say or do in a particular situation.
Origin of reported speech
The use of reported speech dates back to ancient Greek literature, where it was used in written dialogue to convey what one character said to another. The technique was also used in Latin literature and was later adopted by other languages. The English language has a rich history of reported speech. In Old English, reported speech was typically introduced by the verb “section” (to say) or “beodan” (to command), and the reported statement was often introduced by the conjunction “þæt” (that). For example, “He bæd þæt he cuman sceolde” (He commanded that he should come). As the English language evolved, the use of reported speech became more sophisticated. In Middle English, the conjunction “that” became more commonly used to introduce reported speech, and the verb “say” was used to introduce direct speech. In Modern English, a broad variety of verbs can be used to introduce reported speech, such as “tell,” “explain,” “describe,” and “report.” Today, reported speech is an essential component of the English language, used in several contexts such as journalism, storytelling, and everyday conversation.
Uses of reported speech
Reported speech is used in many contexts to report what someone else said, thought, or felt. Here are some common uses of reported speech;
- Reporting statements: The most common use of reported speech is to report statements made by someone else. It can include direct quotes or paraphrased versions of what was said.
- Reporting questions: Reported speech can also be used to report questions that were asked by someone else. The reported question may need to be changed to a statement, and the word order may need to be adjusted.
- Reporting commands: Reported speech can be used to report commands or orders given by someone else.
- Reporting thoughts and feelings: Reported speech can be used to report what someone else thought or felt. It can include reporting opinions, beliefs, or emotions.
- Reporting hypothetical or imaginary situations: Reported speech can be used to report what someone might say or do in a hypothetical or imaginary situation.
Reported speech is a useful tool for conveying information, expressing opinions, and recounting conversations and events.
Rules to know when using reported speech
Reported speech is a way of expressing what someone else has said without quoting them directly. It is also known as indirect speech and it is often used in writing and speaking to report conversations, thoughts, or ideas. Here are some rules to be followed when using reported speech;
Change the pronouns: The pronouns in the reported speech should be changed to reflect the speaker and the listener.
Change the verb tense: The verb tense should be changed when reporting speech to match the tense used by the original speaker.
Change the adverbials of time and place: The adverbials of time and place in the reported speech should be changed to reflect the time and place of the reporting.
Use reporting verbs: Use appropriate reporting verbs like said, told, asked, suggested, etc., to introduce the reported speech.
Use conjunctions: Use appropriate conjunctions like that, whether, if, etc., to introduce the reported speech.
Use reported questions: Change the word order in questions to report them.
Use reported commands: Use the infinitive form of the verb to report commands.
FAQs on Reported Speech in English
- What is reported speech? Reported speech, also known as indirect speech, is when you report what someone else has said without quoting them directly. It is often used to report what someone said in the past.
- What are the most common reporting verbs? The most common reporting verbs are said, told, asked, and replied.
- What is the difference between ‘say’ and ‘tell’? Say is used when you report what someone said without mentioning who they said it to, whereas tell is used when you report what someone said to someone else.
- What is the backshift in reported speech? Backshift is the changing of tenses in reported speech, where present tense becomes past tense, past tense becomes past perfect, and so on.
- Do you need to use quotation marks in reported speech? No, you do not need to use quotation marks in reported speech because you are not directly quoting the person.