Statement Clauses

Restate quoted statements within statements

Couple under umbrella
 

 

Quoted vs. Reported Statements (Direct vs. Indirect Speech)

QUOTED STATEMENT

A quoted statement begins with a main clause including the speaker and a verb such as say or tell, and is followed by a comma and the exact words of the quote, enclosed in quotation marks. The quoted speech may also be placed before the main clause: "It's raining here," she said.       

MAIN CLAUSE QUOTE

She said,

"It's raining here."

She said,

"It was raining here, but it's not now."

She replied,

"I'll meet you at this cafe tomorrow,"

She declared,

"That umbrella  is mine."

REPORTED STATEMENT

A reported statement also begins with the main clause, but instead is followed by the content of the quote as it relates to the speaker in time, person, place, and direction, at the moment of speaking. The subordinating marker that links the reported speech to the main clause.                  

MAIN CLAUSE REPORTED SPEECH

She said

that it was raining there.

She informed us

that it had been raining there, but it wasn't now.

She replied

that she would meet me at that cafe the next day.

She declared  

that the umbrella was hers.
 

 

Also see  Said Synonyms | Quotation Marks

 

 

Said Synonyms

Also see Said Synonyms page.

 

 

 

 

Subordinate That-Clause

Omitting that

 

 

 

That — optional vs. included

THAT – OPTIONAL

The subordinator that is often omitted after commonly used verbs, such as say, tell or think, especially when used in informal contexts.

MAIN CLAUSE SUBORDINATE CLAUSE


Luke said


it was raining there.    


Jack told me


he was working. 


Amy said


she was engaged.    


Jill says


he's not moving.    


Jay told us


they  had to leave.    

THAT – INCLUDED

The subordinator that is included after "formal" verbs; that is, verbs used in more formal contexts such as public speaking, law, business, etc. (announce, admit, declare, explain, acknowledge)  List

MAIN CLAUSE SUBORDINATE CLAUSE


The pilot informed us


that bad weather was approaching.


The officer assured us


that it was safe to walk outside.


Amy announced


that she was engaged.


Jill notified the doctor


that the child was not moving.


Jay indicated to us


that his crew had to leave.

 

That is also used as a determiner: I want this dog not that dog.
See  Said Synonyms  for other words .

 

 

 

 

Subordinate That-Clause

Adjustments

 

 

 

Adjusting Perspective  (deixis)

SAID

Pronouns, verb tense and number, location and time adjust to the point of view of the person in the main clause.

MAIN CLAUSE SUBORDINATE CLAUSE

 

My friend  said,

 

"I'll meet you at this cafe tomorrow."  

(1)  Add a subordinating marker to relate that the quoted speech is being recalled by another person.


that I will meet you at this cafe tomorrow.

(2) Adjust the subject, object and possessive pronouns to the speaker's perspective (viewpoint).


(that) she will meet me at this cafe tomorrow.

(3) Adjust the verb tense and to the speaker's perspective.


(that) she would meet me at this cafe tomorrow.

(4) Adjust the adverbs and prepositional phrases for time and place to the speaker's perspective.


(that) she would meet me at that cafe the next day.


My friend  said


(that) she would meet me at that cafe the next day.    

 

TOLD

If necessary, reword the sentence so that its meaning is clear. 

MAIN CLAUSE SUBORDINATE CLAUSE

 

We told him,

 

"You can show us your video in your office next Tuesday."  

(1)  Add a subordinating marker to relate that the quoted speech is being recalled by another person.


that you can show us your video in your office next Tuesday..

(2)  Adjust the subject, object and possessive pronouns to the speaker's perspective (viewpoint).


that he can show us his video in his office next Tuesday.

(3) Adjust the verb tense and to the speaker's perspective.


that he could show us his video in his office next Tuesday.

(4) Adjust the adverbs and prepositional phrases for time and place to the speaker's perspective.


that
he could show us his video at his office the following Tuesday.


I told him


that he could show us his video in his office the following Tuesday.

 

 

¹Including that in a that-clause is optional with verbs such as say and think.

 

 

 

 

Deixis   /ˈdaɪksɪs/

Adjusting Perspective

 

 

Deictic words

Deictic words, such as pronouns, time and location words, require contextual information; they are relative to the speaker.  From my point of view ⇒ "I am here now."   From your point of view (same time but different place) ⇒ "You are there now."   From their point of view (different time and different place) ⇒ "She was there then."

 

Person Deixis 

MY CENTER YOUR, HIS, HER, THEIR CENTER

I / me →  you

You  →  I / me 

We / our   →  you

You  → we / us 

I / me →  he / him 

He / him  → I / me 

I / me→ she / her

She / her  → I / me 

We / us →  they / them

They / them  → we / us 

I / me / we / us → it 

It  → I / me / we / us

deixis
 

 

Time  and Place Deixis

EARLIER NOW LATER

before then
earlier

now →   

after then
later

recently

today  

in the future

 

tomorrow  

the next day

the day before

yesterday 

 

last week
that week

this week  

next week
the following week

CENTER  — NEAR FAR

here →   

there 

this city

that city 

these towns

those towns 

to my house

from my house 

come

go

 

Deixis /ˈdaɪksɪs/ (n.) / deictic (adj.) – indicating identity, time, or location from the perspective of one or more speakers. "Words are deictic if their semantic meaning is fixed but their denotational meaning varies depending on time and/or place."  (Wiki – deixis)

Also see Prepositions for Time,   Prepositions for Place, Adverbs for Time  and  Pop-Q -  "Deictic"

 

 

 

Restating Speech

Recounting State of Mind

 

 

 

QUOTED STATEMENT

When using say or tell, the restatement is usually exact.  It does nothing more than state the speech.

She said, "It looks like it's raining here."

She said, "It was raining just a minute ago."

She said, "I'll meet you at the cafe tomorrow."

She said, "That umbrella is mine."

He said, "This is my last day working here."

 

STATEMENT & STATE OF MIND

When using a word such as think, believe, know, etc., the restatement includes opinion about the person's cognitive or mental state as well.   

She thinks [that] it will rain there. (here, there)
She thinks [that] it is raining there.
She thought [that] it was raining there.

She knows that it was raining just a minute ago.
She knew that it had been raining.  

She remembers that we are going¹ to meet at the cafe tomorrow.
She remembered that we were going to meet at the cafe the next day.

She believes that his umbrella is hers.
She believed that this umbrella was hers.  

He understands that this is his last work day here.
He understood [that] that² was his last work day here.  
 

 

Related pages It–Subj Clauses,  That–Subj Clauses  Cognitive States for other words expressing cognitive state. 
Note that keeping the subordinted clause in the present tense for "general truth" may be considered both formal or informal usage. Preferences vary.

¹ When recalling an event in the past (remember, recall, recollect) the modal will changes to be going in reported speech. See Will / Be going in subordinated clauses.
² Omit the relative pronoun that before the determiner pronoun that (this) to avoid repetition or confusion.

 

 

 

 

Tense Agreement

Backshifting tenses

 

 

 

Tense Adjustment  — "Backshifting"

QUOTE BACKSHIFTED NOT BACKSHIFTED

Quoted speech captures speech as it is spoken. No tense change is made, even when the speech act is in the past.

In formal writing, the tense of the subordinated clause is 'backshifted' to the time frame of the verb in the main clause.

In both formal and informal writing, one can use the present tense to state fact, how things exist, or how things behave.

GENERAL TRUTH – STATE OF EXISTENCE AS VIEWED FROM PAST AS A PRESENT DAY TRUTH

He said, "I love rain." 
He said, "The earth turns."
He said, "I am Canadian."
    

He said that he loved rain. 
He said that the earth turned
He said that he was Canadian. 

¹He said that he loves rain. 
¹He said that the earth turns
¹He said that he is Canadian. 

PAST MIXED CHANGED STATUS MIXED TENSES

He said, "I was Canadian, but now I am a US citizen."
  

He said that he had been Canadian, but now he was a US citizen.

²He said that he was Canadian, but now he is a US citizen.  (informal) 

SINGLE PRESENT EVENT SAME-TIME PAST  

He said, "I see a rainbow."  
 

He said that he saw a rainbow. 

*He said that he sees a rainbow.  (incorrect)

SINGLE PAST EVENT EARLIER EVENT  

He said, "I forgot the umbrella." 
 

He said that he had forgotten the umbrella. 

²He said that he forgot the umbrella.  (informal)

FUTURE EVENT A TIME LATER THAN THE MOMENT HE SPOKE A  FUTURE TIME FROM NOW

He said, "Rain is expected next week." 
 

He said that rain was expected the next week. (the coming week)
   

He said that rain is expected next week.

FUTURE EVENT A PAST PREDICTION A  FUTURE TIME FROM NOW

He said, "Rain is expected Sunday." 
 

He said that rain was expected (last) Sunday.  (could be a failed prediction)
 

*He said that rain is expected (last) Sunday. (incorrect, impossible)

¹ Some consider this informal usage; that is, not backshifting the verb tense when the meaning of "general truth" or "state of existence" occurs in a subordinated clause.
² This may be considered informal by some. However, the past may be used when no particular importance is placed on earlier or later timing of past actions
*Yellow highlighted words are examples of incorrect usage.

(Huddleston Obligatory vs. optional backshifting 3 §6.2.2)

 

 

 

 

Expressions

Restating to capture the meaning

 

 

Expression vs. Reported Speech

EXPRESSION

Expressions are often "frozen".  (An expression is two or more words that together take on a new meaning.)  For this reason, it sounds awkward when tense, number or a pronoun is changed.

"You are pulling my leg!"

"You can't pull the wool over my eyes."

"Here it is!"  /  "Here they are!"

REPORTED SPEECH

When changing an expression to reported speech any change to tense, number or pronoun returns the phrase to its literal (word for word) meaning. It is often best to restate the expression in other words.

She said that we were pulling her leg. (awkward pronoun use)
She said that we were joking.  (tense change OK)

He assured us that we couldn't fool him. (re-word)

He shouted that he had found it / them.  (re-word)
He shouted that it was there/ there it was. (awkward)
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Common Mistakes

Errors and Solutions

 

 

 

ERROR SOLUTION

"You have to exercise and eat your vegetables."  [impersonal you]

He said that  we have to exercise and eat our vegetables.

He said that you have to exercise and eat your vegetables. informal

He said that everyone has to exercise and eat [his / her/ their] vegetables.  (See Gender & Pronouns.)

He said that one has to exercise and eat one's vegetables. very formal

You is often used informally as an impersonal pronoun "anyone".  It sounds awkward to adjust impersonal "you" in a subordinated clause. See impersonal pronouns

 

" The phone rang when I had just opened the front door to leave."  [back shifting a quote that alread contains the past perfect]

 

He explained that the phone had rung when he had just opened the door to leave when. 

 

He explained that the phone rang as he was leaving [simplify by avoid using tense in the when-clause]

He explained that the phone rang after he had opened the door to leave.

He explained that first he opened the door and then he heard the phone ring.

We can use past and past perfect to contrast earlier and later past events. However, we can not add a third past event.  Reword the sentence and simplify the tenses. Or state the events as a series of past events in the order that each occurred.

 

 

 

 

 

Grammar Notes

Traditional and Linguistic Description

Advanced

 

 

TRADITIONAL & ESL DESCRIPTION LINGUISTIC DESCRIPTION

Direct and Indirect speech  "Reported speech refers to using a noun clause to report what someone has said. No quotation marks are used. If the reporting verb (the main verb of the sentence, e.g., said) is simle past, the verb in the noun clause will usually also be in a past form…" (Azar 12.6–7)

  • immediate reporting: "What did he say?"  He said he wants us to speak up.  [present]
  • later reporting: "What did he say?"  He said that he wanted us to practice our speeches.

 

That before a clause

"That is a conjunction with little real meaning .  It is simply a connector – it shows that a clause forms part of a larger sentence."
— conjunction (Swan 583) 
— subordinating conjunction (Azar 365)

 

A that clauses is used:       

  • as a connector – They believe that he is the captain.
  • in indirect speech – He said that he was the captain.  (Swan 274-6)
  • as s subject – That he was captain was clear from his uniform.
  • as a complement to a "be" verb – The main thing is that you are happy.
  • As a complement to a verb –  We knew that he was the captain. 
  • as a complement to an adjective – We were anxious that he might be the captain.
  • as a complement to a noun – It was our belief that he was the captain.
  • after "The fact" – The fact that he was the captain did not excuse his behavior.
  • after preparatory it It surprised us that he was the captain.      

(Swan 583)

 

That omission:          

  • after many common reporting verbs: He said (that) he was the captain. We thought he really was the captain.
  • after adjectives – I am happy (that) you came.
  • not usually dropped after nouns – We disagreed with the captain's view that earth was flat.
  • after conjunction expressions – We went outside so (that) we could see the stars. /  It was such a beautiful night (that) we ate outside.  /  We are relaxing now (that) we are on vacation.
  • as the object pronoun of a relative clause – This is the ship (that) the captain told us about.

  (Swan 584)

Direct reported speech gives the actual wording of the original.
Indirect reported speech gives only its content.  (Huddleston 11 §9)

The major difference between direct and indirect speech is deixis.  The deictic expressions are interpreted in relation to the original utterance, whereas in indirect speech they are interpreted wholly or predominantly in relation to the act of reporting.  (1025)

deictic – specifying identity or spatial or temporal location from the perspective of one or more of the participants in an act of speech or writing, in the context of either an external situation or the surrounding discourse, as we, you, here, there, now, then, this, that, the former, or the latter.

 

that – marker of subordination in declarative clauses (Huddleston 951)

"Reported speech is syntactically subordinate. It has the form of a content clause funtioning as a complement of the reporting verb: say: the reported speech is thus embedded within a matrix clause."  (Huddleston 11 §9.1)

Including that in a that-clause is optional with verbs such as say and think.  We tend to leave it out in speech and include it in writing. That is required in more formal contexts. (Azar 253) (Huddleston 953) (Quirk 681)

 

 

Resources

 

 

 

 

 

Practice 1

On the Road

On the road
 

 

Change the direct speech to reported (indirect) speech.

  1. Select the response from the list that best completes the sentence. 
  2. Compare your response to the feedback by clicking the "check 1-12" button at the bottom, or click the "Check" button to the left  as you go.

 

1.

2.

3.

4.

5.

6.

7.

8.

9.

10.

11.

12.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Practice 2

"Catching Up"

teens chatting
 

 

Read

JASON: Tom's family is considering moving to Vancouver. 

KATE:  Interesting!  Tom's father is Canadian.

KATE:  Maybe, he wants to return. 

JASON: His father received a good job offer. 

KATE: The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. 

JASON: Tom has never moved before; it's hard.

KATE:  I'll miss Tom a lot.

catch up with someone – share news

 

The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.  (expression) – has a similar meaning to: a man / woman is never satisfied with what he / she has.

 

 

 

Formal, informal or Incorrect?

  1. Select a response formal, informal or incorrect.
  2. Compare your response to the feedback by clicking the "check 13-20" button at the bottom, or click the "Check" button to the left  as you go.

 

13.
Tom said that his family was considering moving to Vancouver.

       

14.
Tom added that his father received a job offer.  

       

15.
Tom noted that he never moved before and it is hard.

       

16.
Kate said that it was interesting.

       

17.
Kate remembered that Tom's father is from Vancouver.

           

18.
Kate believed that maybe he has wanted to return.

       

19.
Kate joked that the grass was always greener on the other side of the fence.

       

20.
Kate lamented that she will miss Tom a lot.

           

 

 

 

 

 

Practice 3

Cartoon Activity

Peanuts (example)
 

 

 

Select or create a cartoon and retell the conversation as reported speech (past tense).

Select one from gocomics.com  (The example below is from a "Peanuts" cartoon strip.) 

Or create your own.  http://plasq.com/  (30-day free trial)

 

 

Edit for Errors

  1. Edit the conversation and include punctuation, if needed.
  2. Compare your response to the feedback by clicking the "check 21-30" button at the bottom, or click the "Check" button to the left  as you go.

 

21.
Charlie met Linus, who was holding a big lunch sack. 
Charlie said, "Don't tell me that's your lunch?"


22.
Linus said, "Some of it."


23.
Charlie asked, "What else do you have in there?"


24.
Linus replied, "My skateboard."