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An explanation about reported speech. Is it correct? Options
DavidLearn
Posted: Tuesday, December 05, 2017 12:54:00 AM

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Location: Girona, Catalonia, Spain
Hi teachers,
This is part of an exercise that I did to the students. What is underlined is what the students will have to answer.

Imagine you want to repeat to your friend what another person said yesterday. To do that, you have to use reported speech.

1. They said, “We are busy.”
They said (that) they were busy.

Who is the speaker in the reported speech sentence? I am.
Who is the listener in the reported speech sentence? My friend.
Is the speaker or the listener mentioned in the “reported speech sentence”? No, they aren't.

My question: Does the explanation make sense?
Consequently, first-person or second-person pronouns cannot be used in the reported speech sentence, just because neither the speaker nor the listener are included in both clauses.
By "both clauses" I mean, and the students know, the reporting clause and the reported one.

Thanks.
pjharvey
Posted: Tuesday, December 05, 2017 3:30:09 AM
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Hello DavidLearn,

I am really confused by your post. Maybe it's I, who am a bit tired.
But I wouldn't used any such confusing explanation. The subjects in both clauses are "they", so obviously not "I" or "you", and that's it. Of course you cannot change the subject of the direct speech ("we") into "I" or "you", because that "we" is said by them...
thar
Posted: Tuesday, December 05, 2017 3:59:45 AM

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Posts: 16,017
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I agree, I don't get this at all.

I think you need to very clear on the distinction between the original speech, "we are"

And the reported speech, - they said they were.


There is no 'I' at all in your example. Did you mean 'we'?


By calling the original the reported speech, which is what you seem to be doing, you are just confusing things.



I don't understand your line about the speaker and the listener. I think there are much simpler ways of explaining this.
Who said this, and who were they referring to?


It will always depend on knowing the context of the speech.

Eg
'He said, "I'll kill you."

Could be
He said he would kill me (if reported by the person referred to as 'you'.
Or
He said he would kill them (if the 'you' refers to other people.


It is who the pronoun refers to that is important.
Yes, that depends on who is reporting the speech - but I think this is best served by scenario example. Trying to make rules to follow makes it too confusing.

Eg, there are two men.
They said, "We are busy."
Who is 'they' in the original statement- the two men.
Who is 'we' in the original speech - the two men.
So, in the reported speech statement
They said they were busy.

Scenario
There were two men. They were talking to my friend and I.
They said, You look busy."
Who is the subject 'they' - the two men
Who is the subject 'you' they are speaking to - my friend and I.
So, when reported by me
They said we looked busy.

If you refer to pronouns, there are so many variations it is impossible to construct rules. You need to know who the pronouns refer to.

DavidLearn
Posted: Tuesday, December 05, 2017 7:02:46 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 1/27/2014
Posts: 3,001
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Location: Girona, Catalonia, Spain
thar wrote:
I agree, I don't get this at all.

I think you need to very clear on the distinction between the original speech, "we are"

And the reported speech, - they said they were.


There is no 'I' at all in your example. Did you mean 'we'?
Where the students have to answer "I", it is because of the instructions. They are "Imagine you want to repeat to your friend what another person said yesterday."
That's why.


By calling the original the reported speech, which is what you seem to be doing, you are just confusing things.
Sorry. I don't get that.


I don't understand your line about the speaker and the listener. I think there are much simpler ways of explaining this.
Who said this, and who were they referring to?
I explain that further below.

It will always depend on knowing the context of the speech.

Eg
'He said, "I'll kill you."

Could be
He said he would kill me (if reported by the person referred to as 'you'.
Or
He said he would kill them (if the 'you' refers to other people.


It is who the pronoun refers to that is important.
Yes, that depends on who is reporting the speech - but I think this is best served by scenario example. Trying to make rules to follow makes it too confusing.
That's right, but books do give rules to students.
Most of them say something like this:
First and second person, plural and singular, subject/object pronouns and possessive adjectives have to be substituded by third person singular and plural ones.
Of course that rule doesn't work for everything!



Eg, there are two men.
They said, "We are busy."
Who is 'they' in the original statement- the two men.
Who is 'we' in the original speech - the two men.
So, in the reported speech statement
They said they were busy.

Scenario
There were two men. They were talking to my friend and I.
They said, You look busy."
Who is the subject 'they' - the two men
Who is the subject 'you' they are speaking to - my friend and I.
So, when reported by me
They said we looked busy.

If you refer to pronouns, there are so many variations it is impossible to construct rules. You need to know who the pronouns refer to.



Hi thar & pjharvey,
Thanks a lot for your comments and help.
The example below is a typical example where to change first and second person to third person is not always valid. So somehow, asking the students, "who is the listener/speaker?" gave me the impression that those questions clarify why it's not always logical to use third person in reported speech.

Example:
D.S. Julian told me, "I will have to borrow your laptop."
R.S. Julian told me (that) he would have to borrow my laptop.

Who is the speaker in the reported speech sentence? I am.
Who is the listener in the reported speech sentence? My friend is.
Is the speaker mentioned in the “reported speech sentence”? Yes, he is.
Is the listener mentioned in the “reported speech sentence”? No, he isn’t.

Is this explanation unclear?
Consequently, because the speaker is mentioned by the object pronoun “me” in the reported speech sentence, I have to use the possessive adjective “my” in that sentence, just because the possessor of the laptop is also the speaker.

David.

thar
Posted: Tuesday, December 05, 2017 8:11:22 PM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 7/8/2010
Posts: 16,017
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Yes, I find that 'rule' for changing first and second person pronouns to third person to be very confusing. It all depends on the situation.

David said, "John is busy".
John: He said I was busy.
David: I said he was busy.
Paul: He said John was busy. (to be clear)
Paul: He said he was busy ( if you know they are talking about John's workload and that it is two different 'he's. Otherwise it could mean David being busy).

I said, "I am busy. "
Me:I said I was busy.

You said, "You are busy."
Us: You said we are busy.
Someone else: You said they are busy.

I can't see a role here for any rule telling you to change things to the third person, text books or no!




DavidLearn
Posted: Wednesday, December 06, 2017 1:06:08 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 1/27/2014
Posts: 3,001
Neurons: 21,458
Location: Girona, Catalonia, Spain
thar wrote:
Yes, I find that 'rule' for changing first and second person pronouns to third person to be very confusing. It all depends on the situation.

David said, "John is busy".
John: He said I was busy.
David: I said he was busy.
Paul: He said John was busy. (to be clear)
Paul: He said he was busy ( if you know they are talking about John's workload and that it is two different 'he's. Otherwise it could mean David being busy).

I said, "I am busy. "
Me:I said I was busy.

You said, "You are busy."
Us: You said we are busy.
Someone else: You said they are busy.

I can't see a role here for any rule telling you to change things to the third person, text books or no! Silenced

Hi thar,
Your examples are very correct and be sure I will use them to explain the changes. As you said, it all depends on the context, the situation. I was just trying to explain the students that some changes apart from the tenses have to be make.
It seems that to write all the rules is very confusing. So practice and little by little will do.

Though I still believe that including or not the speaker in the R.S. sentence gives a lot of light in understanding which one, for example pronoun, has to be used. Don't you also believe so?

David.
thar
Posted: Wednesday, December 06, 2017 2:30:01 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 7/8/2010
Posts: 16,017
Neurons: 64,151
I agree it is important to know who is speaking, and who they are speaking about.

It just seems to me that treating this as a grammar task is very confusing. It is really a logic task - who were they talking about? Then the choice of pronoun in the reporting of it logically follows.

Maybe it is my analytical style, but I think it makes more sense to treat this as a logic problem (which is just putting yourself in that situation, knowing the context and who people actually referred to in their speech), than to try to impose grammatical rules, which will either be really complicated, or have exceptions, and therefore be unreliable as rules.

Because, bottom line, like pj, I found the explanation confusing, not helpful. If I find it confusing, when I know what it is describing, I can guess at least a few of your learners will, even if it is a 'style' they are used to.

DavidLearn
Posted: Wednesday, December 06, 2017 4:53:42 AM

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 1/27/2014
Posts: 3,001
Neurons: 21,458
Location: Girona, Catalonia, Spain
thar wrote:
I agree it is important to know who is speaking, and who they are speaking about.

It just seems to me that treating this as a grammar task is very confusing. It is really a logic task - who were they talking about? Then the choice of pronoun in the reporting of it logically follows.

Maybe it is my analytical style, but I think it makes more sense to treat this as a logic problem (which is just putting yourself in that situation, knowing the context and who people actually referred to in their speech), than to try to impose grammatical rules, which will either be really complicated, or have exceptions, and therefore be unreliable as rules.

Because, bottom line, like pj, I found the explanation confusing, not helpful. If I find it confusing, when I know what it is describing, I can guess at least a few of your learners will, even if it is a 'style' they are used to.


Hi thar,
Thanks for your patience and reasoning. I'll try just to apply to other groups what you said "to treat this as a logic problem (which is just putting yourself in that situation, knowing the context and who people actually referred to in their speech)".

Thanks a lot for your help. Angel

David.
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