Saturday, May 12, 2012

Direct and Indirect Quotations

Direct and Indirect Quotations
A "quotation" is the exact word or words that a person speaks. It's good to understand the difference between a direct quotation, the words you hear from someone speaking, and an indirect quotation, which are the words that someone else uses to describe another speaker. Confused? When you're confused it helps to look at an example.

Direct Quotation
"I need to go to the store," said my wife.

Indirect Quotation
My wife said that she needed to go to the store.

Notice that "said" is in the past tense, so the verb "need" also becomes past tense.
There's something called the "sequence of tenses" which is useful to look at now:

The Sequence of Tenses
         Direct Speech arrow Indirect Speech
Present arrow Past
Present Continuous arrow Past Continuous
                    Past arrow Past Perfect   
Present Perfect arrow Past Perfect
          will arrow would
        can arrow could
        mayarrow might
There are others that can be added, but this is a good start in learning that tenses change their form when using indirect speech. See the examples below.

examples
beekeeper
"I am a beekeeper."
What did he say?
He said he was a beekeeper.
boy reading
"I'm reading a book."
What did he say?
He said that he was reading a book.
spider
"I was afraid of spiders when I was a little girl."
What did she say?
She said she had been afraid of spiders when she was a little girl.
man fishing
"I have been in this same spot for an hour and I haven't caught a thing."
He said that he'd been in that same spot for an hour and he hadn't caught anything.
(he'd been = had been)
making breakfast
"We enjoy making breakfast together."
They said that they enjoyed making breakfast together.
helping woman
"I'll help you pick them up."
He said he would help her pick up the apples.
eating
"He can eat an entire watermelon," his wife said.
His wife said that he could eat an entire watermelon.
radio
"This radio may be over 70 years old," said the owner of the antique shop.
The owner of the antique shop said that the radio might be over 70 years old.

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