REPORTED CASES - Onyeji Nnaji
A reported case simply refers to a reported speech. This is also called indirect speech as against the opposite concept, the direct speech. A reported case is the speech that lacks the trace of the original speaker’s involvement in the action of the verb used in the expression. This situation was originally introduced to the English grammar to identify the circumstances surrounding the possible areas where the fundamental structure of grammar (S.V.O.) is altered, yet the expression is considered grammatical. Example:
- Daddy said, “I will buy a new car by next week” (direct).
- Daddy said that he will buy a new car by next week (indirect).
Now, the main difference found in the sentences above is that:
- The former makes use of first person pronouns, while the latter takes the third person pronouns (he, she, it, they etc.).
- The former makes use of quotation marks, while the latter does not.
- The former uses a comma to introduce the exact speech of the original speaker, while the latter runs on till the end without a comma.
There is always a problem among learners of English grammar in trying to choose the proper reporting speech that fits into the direct speech to be reported. This complexity can be ameliorated by giving heed to the rules binding on the topic. There are eight rules that may guide a learner in reporting speeches appropriately. These are discussed below.
(1) Rule One:
When the verb used in the direct speech is in the present or future tense; in the reported speech the verbs do not change. Example:
- Godwin said, “I shall go to the market tomorrow”.
Godwin said that he shall go to the market tomorrow.
- “Udeme shall go to school,” said John.
John said that Udeme shall go to school.
To change the reported verb from direct future expression, the only verb permitted to replace will and shall is would. So this could be used in their reported forms. Nevertheless, to avoid certain grammatical incorrectness, one is at liberty to retain the future verb in the reported form. The reason for this condition is that future tense does not have any form of verb that is particularly used to indicate it. From all indications, it is clear that the English language users have always borrowed the auxiliaries: will, shall and would to express future occurrences. It is for this reason that some grammarians insist that there is no future tense in English language, but this is not true.
(2) Rule Two:
When the direct speech has a verb in the present perfect tense, the verb should change to past perfect tense in the reporting speech. Example:
- “I have just finished eating,” said Jide.
Jide said that he had just finished eating.
(3) Rule three:
If the verb in the speech is in the present continuous tense, in the reported speech the verb should change to past continuous tense. Example:
- “I am eating,” said Sandra.
Sandra said that she was eating.
(4) Rule four:
If the verb in the direct speech is in the present perfect progressive, the verb should change to past perfect progressive. Example:
- “I have been eating since morning,” said Uchenna.
Uchenna said that he had been eating since morning.
(5) Rule five:
If the verb in the direct speech is in the simple past, the reported verb should change to past perfect tense. Example:
- James said to Ugonna, “I loved you.”
James told Ugonna that he had loved her.
(6) Rule Six:
Modal auxiliary verbs that are realised in pairs change to their respective pairs in the respective speeches. Modals like can, may, will, must etc. Change to could, might, would, had to etc. in the reported speech.
“I can climb the tree,” said Michael.
Michael said that he could climb the tree.
(7) Rule Seven:
When the verb in the direct speech is in the past continuous tense, the verb should change to past perfect continuous tense in the reported speech. Example:
- “I was praying when it began to rain,” said Nora.
Nora said that she had been praying when it begun to rain.
(8) Rule Eight:
When the expression in the direct speech is a universal truth or a fact that is habitual, the verbs do not change their tenses in the reported speech. Example:
- “Life is what you make it,” says the preacher.
The preacher said that life is what you make it.
- “The sun rises in the east,” says the philosopher.
The philosopher said that the sun rises in the east.
(15.3.3) The Passive Sentence:
Before discussing the ways in which passive sentences are formed, it is expedient to explain the meaning of voice because passive is one of the voices of verbs. Voice refers to the verb form which shows whether a transitive verb acts or is acted upon. These situations give rise to two voices -Active and Passive.
The active voice, which is more common, shows when the subject does the action of the verb. For example:
- Jude collected the money.
Here, Jude performs the action. It is placed in the subjective position.
The passive voice shows a situation where the subject is acted upon. It suffers the action indicated by the verb. Example:
- The money was collected by Ali.
There are a number of processes involved in the formation of the passive voice. Some of these processes include:
- Changing the object of the active voice to the subjective position in the passive voice.
- Changing the verb to the closest participial form.
- Let the preposition by come before the subject. This preposition may be expressed or implied.
Apart from these conditions, a clearer version of this form of sentences is discussed in chapter five of this book. Other problems encountered during sentence constructions include incompleteness of sentences, misplacement of modifiers and dangling modifications. They are however not discussed here because they are needed mostly for extended/advanced syntactic considerations.