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Rules of Narration For Error Spotting

Published on Thursday, June 08, 2017

In English we need to report messages, speeches, comments, requests etc. of a person or others.

We may report the words of a speaker in two ways:

i) We may quote his actual words. This is called Direct Speech.
ii) We may report what he said without quoting his exact words. This is called Indirect or reported Speech.

For the purpose of changing narration, sentences are divided as follows:

I. Assertive Sentence (sentence denoting statements in affirmative and negative.)
II. Interrogative Sentence (Sentence beginning with question words such as – Why, When Who, Which, What, Where etc.)
III. Imperative Sentence (sentence denoting command, request, & advice)
IV. Exclamatory Sentence (Sentence expressing Joy, sorrow, wonder etc.)
V. Optative Sentence (Expressing wish, prayer etc.)

Some basic rules for changing Direct speech into Indirect speech: -

1. We use a linker before the Indirect Speech.
Direct: He said,” I am busy”.
Indirect: he said that he was busy.

2. The pronoun is changed according to sense:
Direct: Suman said to his friend, “You are ill”
Indirect: Suman told her friend that he was ill.

3. If the reporting verb is in past tense, we must make the following changes –

Narration of Assertive Sentence

1. In assertive sentence linker ‘that’ is used.
2. If the reporting verb is present or future tense, the tense of the verb of the Direct speech is not change at all. 
Direct: Ram says, “I am busy”
Indirect: Ram says that he is busy.

3. In case habitual truth or eternal truth no change of tense is required.
Example – 
Direct: The teacher said,” The sun rises in the east”
Indirect: The teacher said that The sun rises in the east.

4. Normally there is no changes in the verb forms of the Modal auxiliaries like must, ought to.
Example – 
Direct: “We must go”, she said.
Indirect: She said that they must go.

Narration of Interrogative Sentences

1. If the direct speech is in Interrogative sentences, reporting verb such as say, tell etc. are change into ask, enquire, want to know etc.

2. If the direct speech begins with some ‘wh’ question word, such as who, what, which, where, why, how etc., these are retained in the Indirect speech.
Example – 
Direct: He said to me, “What are you doing?”
Indirect: He asked me what I was doing.

3. But if the direct speech does not begin with such question words, if or weather is used as the linker.
Example – 
Direct: “are you weeping?”, He asked her.
Indirect: He asked her if she was weeping.

Narration of Imperative sentence

1. The reporting verb becomes order, request, advise, tell, ask.
2. The imperative mood is changed into the infinitive. Hence ‘to’ is used before the main verb.
Direct: Father said to me,” Go home at once”
Indirect: Father ordered me to go home at once.

3. Negative imperative expressed by using not before the infinitive in the indirect speech. The reporting verb forbid, prohibit etc. may also be used without using not.
Example – 
Direct: Mother said to me, “Don’t run in the Sun.”
Indirect: Mother advised me not to run in the Sun.  (or) Mother forbade me to run in the Sun.

4. Such expression as Please, Sir in the direct are left out in the indirect speech and they are rendered by the verb request or by the adverbs kindly, politely etc.
Direct: Ram said to him, “Sir, don’t go home now.”
Indirect: Ram asked him politely not to go home then.

5. When let in the Direct speech expresses a proposal or suggestion, we may use Should for let and change the reporting verb into propose or suggest.
Example – 
Direct: Arka said to his friend, “Let us have a picnic.”
Indirect: Arka proposed to his friends that they should have a picnic.

6. But when let does not expresses a proposal, it should be changed into might, or may be allowed to.
Example –
Direct: He said, “Let me come in.”
Indirect: he requested that he might be allowed to come in.

Narration of Exclamatory Sentence

1. In Exclamatory sentence, the reporting verb is changed into exclaim in grief, exclaim in joy, exclaim in wonder etc.
Example – 
Direct: The boy said, “Hurrah! We have won the match.”
Indirect: The boy exclaimed in joy that they had won the match.

2. If the exclamatory sentence begins with what or How to denote extreme emotion, it becomes great or very according to sentence. Normally great is placed before a noun and very is placed before an adjective.
Direct: He said, “What a nice bird it is.”
Indirect: he exclaimed in wonder that it was a very nice bird.

Narration of Optative Sentence

1. Reporting verb is changed into wish, pray, desire, long for, yearn for etc. Moreover, the operative form is changed into assertive form with the linker that in the indirect speech.
Direct: They said, “May God save our country.”
Indirect: They prayed that God might save their country.

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