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A large part of communicating has to do with reporting what other people have said. This grammatical grapevine comes in two varieties:
- Direct speech, aka direct style
- Indirect speech, aka indirect style
Direct Speech / Discours direct
Direct speech is very simple. You simply repeat the exact words of the original speaker: you quote them. So, logically enough, written direct speech is set off by quotation marks (guillemets in French).
Par exemple …
|Ma fille dit : « Je vais être médecin ».||My daughter says, "I’m going to be a doctor."|
|Mon fils prononce : « Moi, je veux être prof ».||My son utters, "Well, I want to be a teacher."|
|Moi, je réponds toujours : « Je suis très fier de vous deux ».||I always respond, "I’m very proud of both of you."|
Note that you can use direct speech to quote yourself as well, such as when recounting the above conversation to your spouse.
Indirect Speech / Discours indirect
Reporting what someone has from said from your own point of view is done with indirect speech. You can skip the guillemets, but must use a specific construction:
Par exemple …
|Ma fille dit qu’elle va être médecin.||My daughter says she’s going to be a doctor.|
|Mon fils prononce qu’il veut être prof.||My son utters that he wants to be a teacher.|
|Moi, je réponds toujours que je suis très fier des deux.||I always respond that I’m very proud of both of them.|
As you can see, indirect speech is immediately more complicated:
- It requires a reporting verb
- and a subordinating conjunction
- followed by a subordinate clause.
- The subject pronoun in the subordinate clause has to change,
- as does the verb conjugation.
For more detail about these and other required changes, go on to page 2: Indirect speech.
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