Clauses of Indirect Discourse

Clauses of Indirect Discourse :

A quotation may be direct or indirect.

A direct quotation repeats a speech or thought in its original form.

1. I replied: “I am sorry to hear it.”

2. “Henceforth,” he explained, “I shall call on Tuesdays.”

3. “You must see California,” she insisted.

4. “Elizabeth no longer lives here,” he said.

5. “I know nothing about it,” was the witness’s reply.

6. “Where,” thought I, “are the crew?”

An indirect quotation repeats a speech or thought in substance, but usually with some change in its form.

An indirect quotation, when a statement, is a subordinate clause dependent on some word of saying or thinking, and introduced by the conjunction that.

1. I replied that I was sorry to hear it. [Direct : I am sorry.]

2. He explained that henceforth he should call on Tuesdays.

3. She insisted that I must see California.

A direct quotation begins with a capital letter, unless it is a fragment of a sentence. It is enclosed in quotation marks.

An indirect quotation begins with a small letter. It usually has no quotation marks.

A substantive clause introduced by that may be used with verbs and other expressions of telling, thinking, knowing, and perceiving, to report the words or thought of a person in substance, but usually with some change of form.

Such clauses are said to be in the indirect discourse.

For distinction, a remark or a thought in its original form (as in a direct quotation) is said to be in the direct discourse.

Statements in indirect discourse, being substantive clauses, may be used in various noun constructions: (1) as object of some verb of telling, thinking, or the like, (2) as subject, (3) as predicate nominative, (4) as appositive.

1. He said that the box was empty. [Object.]

2. That the box was empty was all he could say. [Subject.]

3. My remark was that the bill is a menace. [Predicate nominative.]

4. Your remark, that the bill is a menace, has aroused vigorous protest. [Apposition.]

The conjunction that is often omitted.

1. Jack said [that] he was sorry.

2. I hope [that] you can come.

3. I know he is too busy a man to have leisure for me. - Cowper.

In indirect discourse, after the past or the pluperfect tense, the present tense of the direct discourse becomes past, and the perfect becomes pluperfect.

1.Direct : I am tired.

Indirect : John {said | had said} that he was tired.

2.Direct : I have won.

Indirect : John {said | had said} that he had won.

But a general or universal truth always remains in the present tense.

Direct : Air is a gas.

Indirect : I told him that air is a gas.

Indirect : I had told him a hundred times that air is a gas.

The clause with that in indirect discourse is sometimes replaced by an infinitive clause.

1. The jury declared him to be innocent. [Compare : The jury declared that he was innocent.]

2. Morton admitted them to be counterfeit. [Compare : Morton admitted that they were counterfeit.]

In these sentences, him and them are, of course, the subjects of the infinitives, not the objects of declared and admitted.

When the verb of telling or thinking is in the passive voice, three constructions occur.

1. A clause with that is used as the subject of the passive verb.

That Rogers desires the office is commonly reported.

2. The expletive it is used as the grammatical subject, and a that-clause follows the passive verb.

It is commonly reported that Rogers desires the office.

3. The subject of the that-clause becomes the subject of the passive verb, and the verb of the clause is replaced by an infinitive.

Rogers is commonly reported to desire the office.

The choice among these three idioms is largely a matter of emphasis or euphony. The first may easily become heavy or awkward, and it is therefore less common than either of the others.

Note : The third of these idioms is often called the personal construction, to distinguish it from the second, in which the grammatical subject is the impersonal it. The infinitive in this third idiom may be regarded as a peculiar adverbial modifier of the passive verb.

Further examples of the three constructions with passive verbs of telling, thinking, etc., are the following.

1. That in vivacity, humor, and eloquence, the Irish stand high among the nations of the world is now universally acknowledged. - Macaulay.

2. It is admitted that the exercise of the imagination is most delightful. - Shelley.

3. It must be owned that Charles’s life has points of some originality. - Stevenson.

4. Porto Bello is still said to be impregnable, and it is reported the Dutch have declared war against us. - Gray.

5. He was generally believed to have been a pirate. - Lytton.

6. Pope may be said to write always with his reputation in his head. - Johnson.

7. She was observed to flutter her fan with such vehement rapidity that the elaborate delicacy of its workmanship gave way. - Hawthorne.

8. This is said to be the only château in France in which the ancient furniture of its original age is preserved. - Longfellow.

A substantive clause with that is common after it seems, it is true, it is evident, and similar expressions.

1. It seems that Robert has lost all his money.

2. It is true that genius does not always bring happiness with it.

3. It is evident that Andrews tells the truth.

The uses of shall and will, should and would, in indirect discourse are the same as in the direct, with the following exception.

When the first person with shall or should in direct discourse becomes the second or third person in the indirect, shall or should is retained.

Direct : You say, “I shall die.”

Indirect : You say that you shall die.

Direct : You said, “I shall die.”

Indirect : You said that you should die.

Direct : He says, “I shall die.”

Indirect : He says that he shall die.

Direct : He said, “I shall die.”

Indirect : He said that he should die.

The reason for the retention of shall or should is that, in such cases, the second or third person of the indirect discourse represents the first person of the direct.

The change from shall (after says) to should (after said) is a mere change of tense, according to the rule.

Note : The general principle is, to retain in the indirect discourse the auxiliary of the direct, simply changing the tense if necessary. This principle of course covers the use of you or he shall or should to represent I shall or should. There is, however, one important exception to the general principle: when its application would result in the use of I will or I would to express mere futurity, I shall or I should is employed. Thus, John says to Charles, “If you fall overboard, you will drown”; but Charles, reporting this, must say, “John tells me that, if I fall overboard, I shall [NOT will] drown.” The general rule, then, may be stated as follows: The indirect discourse retains the auxiliary of the direct (with a change in tense, if necessary), unless such retention makes will or would express simple futurity in the first person,—in that case, shall or should is used.

The following sentences illustrate the correct use of shall and will, should and would, in the indirect discourse.

1. He writes me that he believes he shall be at Eton till the middle of November. - Gray. [Direct : I shall be at Eton.]

2. He that would pass the latter part of his life with honor and decency, must, while he is young, consider that he shall one day be old. - Johnson. [Direct : I shall one day be old.]

3. Could he but reduce the Aztec capital, he felt that he should be safe. - Prescott. [Direct : I shall be safe.]

4. Plantagenet took it into his head that he should like to learn to play at bowls.—Disraeli. [Direct : I should like.]

5. He answered that he should be very proud of hoisting his flag under Sir John’s command. - Southey. [Direct : I shall (or should) be, etc.]

6. He knew that if he applied himself in earnest to the work of reformation, he should raise every bad passion in arms against him. - Macaulay. [Direct : If I apply myself ..., I shall raise, etc.]

7. He was pleased to say that he should like to have the author in his service. - Carlyle. [Direct : I should like.]

8. Mr. Tristram at last declared that he was overcome with fatigue, and should be happy to sit down. - Henry James. [Direct : I should be happy.]

9. She vowed that unless he made a great match, she should never die easy. - Thackeray. [Direct : Unless you make a great match, I shall never die easy.]

10. You think now I shall get into a scrape at home. You think I shall scream and plunge and spoil everything. - George Eliot. [Direct : She will get into a scrape, etc.]

11. You in a manner impose upon them the necessity of being silent, by declaring that you will be so yourself. - Cowper. [Determination : I will be silent.]

12. He [Swift] tells them that he will run away and leave them, if they do not instantly make a provision for him. - Jeffrey. [Threat : I will run away.]

13. The king declared that he would not reprieve her for one day. - Mackintosh. [Direct : I will not.]

14. Horace declares that he would not for all the world get into a boat with a man who had divulged the Eleusinian mysteries. - Cowper. [Direct : I would not.]

15. I called up Sirboko, and told him, if he would liberate this one man to please me, he should be no loser. - Speke. [Direct : If you will liberate, etc., you shall be no loser.]

16. We concluded that, if we did not come at some water in ten days’ time, we would return. - De Foe. [Direct : If we do not, etc., we will return.]

17. With a theatrical gesture and the remark that I should see, he opened some cages and released half a dozen cats. - W. J. Locke. [Direct : You shall see.]

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