Unit 8.2

Changes of Pronouns in Reported Speech

Syntax

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Introduction

Reported speech is when we want to report one person’s speech to another person but we don’t use the exact words because we focus on the message rather than the exact words.

While using reported speech, we change the first person pronouns according to the subject of the reporting verb.

Form

In reported speech the original subject (or subjects) of the clause turns into the third person singular (or plural).

In particular:

  • First person pronouns (I, me, us, we, mine, our) in reported speech change into third person pronouns (he, she, it, they, him, his, her, hers, them, their, theirs), if the reporting verb refers to third person pronouns. They do not change if the reporting verb refers to first person pronouns;
  • Third person pronouns (he, she, it, they, him, his, her, hers, them, their, theirs) do not change at all in reported speech.

NOTE: If a second person pronoun (you, your, yours) is the object of the main sentence, they change into first person singular and plural (I, me, us, we, mine, our, ours) in indirect speech.

Example

  • She told me that she would ask a receipt next time. (I)
  • Mary told me that she always wanted to live in a historic quarter. (I)
  • He said that a parrot of his has blue feathers. (Mine)
  • Municipal police stated that they had caught the thieves. (We)
  • They said that they never mix salty and sweet food. (We)
  • The family told us that their kitchen table is metallic. (Our)

Use

We use reported speech when we have to convey the meaning of a conversation, turning the subjects and objects of the original text, into other singular or plural pronouns.

Personal pronouns may change in the indirect sentences according to who is delivering the speech.

Summary

While using reported speech, we change the first person pronouns according to the subject of the reporting verb. In order to convey the meaning of a conversation, we turn the subjects and objects of the original text, into other singular or plural pronouns.

In particular:

  • First person pronouns (I, me, us, we, mine, our) in reported speech change into third person pronouns (he, she, it, they, him, his, her, hers, them, their, theirs), if the reporting verb refers to third person pronouns. They do not change if the reporting verb refers to first person pronouns;
  • Third person pronouns (he, she, it, they, him, his, her, them, their, theirs) do not change at all in reported speech.

For example:
— I will go for a walk”, she told me ⇒ She told me that she would go for a walk. = The first person pronoun changes into the third person pronoun she.
— “We made a cake with Jim” , Maria said. ⇒ Maria said that they had made a cake with Jim. = The first person pronoun we changes into the third person pronoun they.

NOTE: If a second person pronoun (you, your, yours) is the object of the main sentence, they change into first person singular and plural (I, me, us, we, mine, our, ours) in indirect speech.

For example:
— “I miss you.” ⇒ He said he missed me.

Let’s revise this content within the {Form} section. Take a look at the {Example} section that shows its use within a context.

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