Reported SpeechStatements, commands and requests
Reported statements - intro Look at these examples: The little prince: “I want a sheep that will live for a long time.” The little prince said (that) he wanted a sheep that would live for a long time. The author: “This is my airplane.” The author said that was his airplane.
The differences The changes you see are due to the fact we don‟t quote speaker‟s words but report them. The first difference you can see is the omission of inverted comas. The second one is the use of introductory verbs such as say, tell etc. They are normally used in the past tense.NB „Tell‟ requires the object whereas „say‟ doesn‟t.• The use of „that‟ is optional.
Further changes Personal pronouns and possessive adjectives change, e.g. I he/she, you I/we, my his/her, your my etc. The little prince: “I want a sheep that will live for a long time.” The little prince said (that) he wanted a sheep that would live for a long time. The author: “This is my airplane.” The author said that was his airplane.
Tense changeo Since the introductory verbs are normally in the past tense, the tense in the main part changes, too. Thus:o Present Simple Past Simpleo The little prince: “Everything is so small where I live.”o The little prince said that everything was so small where he lived.
Tense change Present Continuous Past Continuous The little prince: “I am telling you this partly because of the snake.” The little prince said he was telling him that partly because of the snake.
Tense change Present Perfect Past Perfect “I‟ve been silly,” she whispered at last. She whispered at last that she had been silly.
Tense change Past Simple Past Perfect “You are like the fox when I first encountered him,” he told the roses. He told the roses they were like the fox when he had first encountered him.
Tense change Future Simple Future in the Past The fox said: “You will then understand that your rose is unique.” The fox told the little prince he would then understand that his rose was unique.
Tense change Must had to; can could “You must keep your promise,” said the little prince. The little prince told him he had to keep his promise. The little prince said: “I cannot carry this body with me.” The little prince said he could not carry that body with him.
Other changes Adverbs of time: now then, yesterday the day before, tomorrow the next day, today that day, ago before Adverbs of place: here there etc. “I do not have to live here,” said the little prince. The little prince said he did not have to live there.
Reported commands & requests Look at these examples: “Draw me a sheep”, the little prince said. The little prince told him to draw him a sheep. “Please draw me a sheep,” the little prince said softly. The little prince asked him to draw him a sheep. NB Use „tell‟ with commands and „ask‟ with requests
Changes As you can see from the previous examples, there is no tense change when reporting commands and requests – the verb changes into the infinitive.
Examples When reporting negative commands you must remember that „not‟ comes before „to‟. The rose said: “Don‟t hang about so.” The rose said to the little prince not to hang about so. “Do not come tonight” the little prince said. The little prince told him not to come that night.
More examples “Come back tomorrow evening” the little prince told him. The little prince told him to come back the next evening. The rose whispered: “Please forgive me. Try to be happy.” The rose asked the little prince to forgive her and to try to be happy.
Thanks for attentionAll used examples in direct speech taken from the book“The Little Prince” by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, translated by Irene Testot-Ferry