Indirect speech

CA82

 

When converting the direct into indirect speech, attention has to be paid in the tenses. As in the indicative, also in the Konjunktiv I, there are certain tense forms that express the present, past and future.

 

indicative
 
time
 
Konjunktiv I
 
Konjunktiv II
       
 
   
present tense
 
present
 
present
 
Präteritum (A)
würden + present infinitive (B)
 
     
 
   
Präteritum
present perfect
past perfect
 
past
 
present perfect
 
past perfect (C)
 
     
 
   
simple future (Future I)
 
future
 
simple future (Future I)
 
würden + present infinitive (B)
future perfect (Future II)
future perfect (Future II)
würden + perfect infinitive (D)

 

 

Rules:

 

1. The present tense of the Konjunktiv I is used to express the present. When the Konjunktiv I present is identical to the present indicative form, the Konjunktiv II is used i.e. its Präteritum (A) form or würden + present infinitive (B). *

 

2. The present perfect tense of the Konjunktiv I is used to express the past. When the Konjunktiv I present perfect is identical to the present perfect indicative form, then the past perfect form of the Konjunktiv II (C) is used

 

3. In the Konjunktiv I, as in the indicative, there are two forms that express the future, the simple future (Future I) and the future perfect (Future II). When the simple future/future perfect forms of the Konjunktiv I are identical to the simple future/future perfect forms of the indicative, the Konjunktiv II forms are used i.e. würden + present infinitive (B) or würden + perfect infinitive (D).

 

* When using the Konjunktiv II Präteritum form, the same restrictions that have been presented in the rules of the Konjunktiv II apply.


CA82A

The indirect speech in everyday and written language:

 

1. When the indirect speech is used in everyday spoken language, only the indicative is used and almost never the Konjunktiv I. In this case, the indirect speech is expressed by a subordinate clause that is or is not introduced by a conjunction.

 

direct speech  
indirect speech
Peter hat behauptet: "Ich war gerstern nicht zu Hause." Peter hat behauptet, dass er gerstern nicht zu Hause gewesen ist.
  subordinate clause introduced by a conjunction

 

 

2. In the written language, and especially in mass media texts, the Konjunktiv I or II are mainly used to report someone's statement. In this case, the indirect speech is expressed by a subordinate clause that is or is not introduced by a conjunction.

 

direct speech  
indirect speech
Der Parteichef hat erklärt: "Ich werde zurücktreten". Der Parteichef hat erklärt, dass er zurücktreten werde. Der Parteichef hat gesagt, er werde zurücktreten .
  subordinate clause introduced by a conjunction subordinate clause not introduced by a conjunction

 

 

A summarised view of how the indirect speech is expressed in everyday and written language is presented below:

 

  everyday language   written language
expression of indirect speech
mood indicative Konjunktiv I / II
clause type subordinate clause introduced by a conjunction subordinate clause introduced by a conjunction
subordinate clause not introduced by a conjunction


CA82B

Notes:

 

In the indirect speech, one must pay attention to the following :

 

1

the indirect speech is introduced by a verb or a noun that states that someone says, thinks, claims something.

2 the indirect speech and the direct speech are in the same tense. The tense of the sentence that introduces the indirect speech is not important.
3 the indirect speech can be expressed by subordinate clauses introduced by a conjunction (dass-clauses) or by subordinate clauses that are not introduced by a conjunction. For reasons of style, successive dass-clauses should be avoided.
4 pronouns change in the indirect speech according to context.
5 adverbial complements of time or place change in the indirect speech according to context.
6 Konjunktiv forms in the direct speech remain unchanged in the indirect speech.
7 Infinitive structures in the direct speech remain unchanged in the indirect speech.


CA82C

Indirect questions

 

Direct questions are expressed in the indirect speech by a subordinate clause. When the direct question is a yes-no question, the indirect question is introduced by ob.

 

direct question (yes-no question)  
indirect question
Er fragt: "Tritt der Parteichef zurück?" Er fragt, ob der Parteichef zurücktrete.

 

If the direct question is introduced by a question word, then the indirect question is introduced by the same question word.

 

direct question (question-word questions)  
indirect question
Er fragt: "Wann tritt der Parteichef zurück?" Er fragt, wann der Parteichef zurücktrete.

 

The choice of mood depends on the same criteria (everyday language/written language/identical forms of the Konjunktiv I and the indicative) that generally apply to the use of the indirect speech.


CA82D

Indirect requests/demands

 

A request/demand in the imperative mood is reported in the indirect speech with the modal verbs sollen or mögen. Sollen is used to express a demand, mögen a request.

 

request/demand (imperative)   indirect request/demand
Sag mir die Wahrheit! Ich habe sie aufgefordert, sie solle mir die Wahrheit sagen.
Ich habe sie gebeten, sie möge mir die Wahrheit sagen.

 

In this function, modal verbs are used only in the Konjunktiv I / II.


CA82E

 

Alternative forms of reporting speech

 

Besides the indirect speech, there are alternative ways to report the words of someone.

 

alternative structures Examples
modal verbs Norbert will gestern mit Angelika ausgegangen sein.
infinitive structures Philip behauptet, gerstern krank gewesen zu sein.
expressions Nach seinen Worten hat er sie nie wieder gesehen.