Indirect speech

indirect discoursereported speechindirectindirect statementindirectionoratio recta
Indirect speech is a means of expressing the content of statements, questions or other utterances, without quoting them explicitly as is done in direct speech.wikipedia
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Sequence of tenses

consecutio temporumthe sequence of tenseprimary tense
In some languages, including English, the tense of verbs is often changed – this is often called sequence of tenses.
A typical context in which rules of sequence of tenses apply is that of indirect speech.

Direct speech

directquoted speechdirect discourse
Indirect speech is a means of expressing the content of statements, questions or other utterances, without quoting them explicitly as is done in direct speech.
Reported or normal indirect speech:

Content clause

indirect questiondeclarative content clausedirect question
In grammar, indirect speech often makes use of certain syntactic structures such as content clauses ("that" clauses, such as (that) he was coming), and sometimes infinitive phrases.
Reported questions (as in the last of the examples) are also subject to the tense and other changes that apply generally in indirect speech.


N-wordniggersracial slur
Mark Twain, in the autobiographic book Life on the Mississippi (1883), used the term within quotes, indicating reported speech, but used the term "negro" when writing in his own narrative persona.


A quotative (abbreviated ) is a grammatical device to mark quoted speech in some languages, and as such it preserves the grammatical person and tense of the original utterance rather than adjusting it as would be the case with reported speech.


logophoric pronounlogophorlogophoric
In particular, Hagège argues that logophors are a distinct class of pronouns which refer to the source of indirect discourse: the original speaker or individual whose perspective is being communicated, rather than the speaker currently relaying this information.

Past tense

The "past time" to which the past tense refers generally means the past relative to the moment of speaking, although in contexts where relative tense is employed (as in some instances of indirect speech) it may mean the past relative to some other time being under discussion.

Free indirect speech

free indirect discourseindirectfree indirect style
Reported or normal indirect speech: He laid down his bundle and thought of his misfortune. He asked himself what pleasure he had found since he came into the world.

Verbum dicendi

Verba dicendiverb of speechverb of utterance
A complement of a verbum dicendi can be direct or indirect speech.

Gato Fedorento

In its original unique surreal humour, the group is known for overusing Portuguese idioms, especially in indirect speech, within current discourse on their sketches, turning apparently objective quotidian situations into subjective and often illogical ones.

Mrs Dalloway

Mrs. Dalloway1925 novelClarissa Dalloway
Woolf blurs the distinction between direct and indirect speech throughout the novel, freely alternating her mode of narration between omniscient description, indirect interior monologue, and soliloquy.

Latin declension

genitive casedeclensionsecond declension
The ablative case expresses separation, indirection, or the means by which an action is performed. In English, the prepositions by, with, from, in, and on are most commonly used to indicate these meanings.

Quotation marks in English

smart quoteslogical (as opposed to typesetter's) punctuationOrder of quoted punctuation marks
Quotation marks are not used for indirect speech.


aorist aspectAORaor.
Non-indicative forms of the aorist (subjunctives, optatives, imperatives, infinitives) are usually purely aspectual, with certain exceptions including indirect speech constructions and the use of optative as part of the sequence of tenses in dependent clauses.


However, the dependent clause of indirect speech is considered as a direct object, leading to verbs introducing an indirect object, even if there is no visible direct object.

Carthago delenda est

Ceterum censeo Carthaginem esse delendamDelenda CarthagoDelenda est Carthago
The fuller forms Ceterum censeo delendam esse Carthaginem and Ceterum autem censeo delendam esse Carthaginem use the so-called accusative and infinitive construction for the indirect statement.

Relative and absolute tense

relative tenserelativeabsolute tense
In some cases, the operation of sequence of tenses in indirect speech serves to preserve absolute tense.


Indirect questions may also be subject to the changes of tense and other changes that apply generally to indirect speech.

Butler English

Its major syntactic characteristics are the deletion of auxiliary verbs, the frequent use of "-ing" forms for things other than participles, and the reporting of indirect speech directly.

Participle (Ancient Greek)

This participle has two major uses: (1) in indirect discourse, and (2) not in indirect discourse.

English subjunctive

subjunctivesubjunctive moodpast subjunctive
The "past subjunctive" (irrealis) form were is also used by some as an alternative to the backshifted indicative was following if or whether in indirect speech or thought, for example:

Accusative and infinitive

Accusativus cum infinitivoaccusativeaccusativus cum infinitivo (ACI)
Among other uses, information may be given in this form to indicate indirect speech, also called indirect discourse.

Optative mood

In dependent clauses (purpose, temporal, conditional, and indirect speech), the optative is often used under past-tense main verbs.