Thursday, March 27, 2014

Reporting verbs

Apart from say and tell, there are other verbs that can introduce sentences in reported speech, as we saw in another blog entry. These reporting verbs are more specific: they tell us more about the intention of the speaker. Let's see an example:
Bart said: "I won't do it again, dad".
This sentence can be reported as:
1. Bart told his dad that he wouldn't do it again.
2. Bart promised his dad not to do it again.
Both reported speech sentences are correct, but the second one is better because the verb "promise" tells us a lot about the intention of the speaker, whereas "tell" is more neutral.
Bart promised his dad not to do it again.
There are many reporting verbs, which are difficult to master even for native speakers, but when used, they undoubtedly give a greater quality to their writing.
In order to make them easier to learn for foreign speakers of English, we are going to classify them in five different groups according to the structure or pattern they follow. Bear in mind that some of them can be found in two or even three groups:

Verb + to-infinitive
"I'll bring some refreshments", she said.
She offered to bring some refreshments.
These are some of the verbs that have this pattern
agree decide offer
promise refuse threaten
claim swear demand

Verb + object + to-infinitive
"Please, stay!", she said.
She begged me to stay. Note that there is no need to repeat the word "please", because its meaning is given by the reporting verb "beg".
Some verbs that follow this pattern are:
advise ask convince
encourage invite beg
forbid instruct order
request remind urge
persuade warn

Verb + V-ing / noun
"I didn't steal the money", he said
He denied stealing the money.
Some verbs that require a gerund are:
admit confess acknowledge
advise deny recommend
regret suggest

Verb + Preposition + V-ing / noun
Prepositions are always followed by nouns or gerunds, so it's easy to remember that these verbs with prepositions will be followed by the -ing form. Note that you can have an object either between verb and preposition or right after the preposition.
"Yes, you stole the money" she said.
She accused him of stealing the money.
"I'm sorry I'm late!", she said.
She apologised for being late.

Verb + Prep. + V-ing Verb + Object + Prep. + V-ing
apologise for accuse s.o. of
insist on blame s.o. for
confess to congratulate s.o. on
complain about forgive s.o. for
warn s.o. against / about
disuade s.o. from

Verb + that + Subject + Verb
This structure is more formal, so it is more commonly used in written English. The verb in the subordinate clause is in the subjunctive, but in British English it is more usual to use should and the infinitive instead of the subjunctive. Examples:
"Let's go shopping", he said.
He suggested that they go shopping.
He suggested that they should go shopping
He suggested going shopping. (This is less formal, as we have already seen, but much more common.)
These are some of the reporting verbs followed by a subordinate clause:
agree ask claim
demand decide guarantee
promise propose recommend
request swear suggest

One example of one of the above patterns can be found in the following song by KWS, in which we can hear the expression "I'm begging you to stay", which is another way of saying "Please, don't go". Enjoy!


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