Reported speech: Italian grammar lesson


Key Takeaways

Dive into the art of transforming direct quotes into reported speech! This guide will show you how to seamlessly shift tenses, pronouns, and adverbs to master the subtleties of indirect storytelling in both English and Italian. 🇮🇹✨

  • Verb Tense Tango: Learn the dance of tenses in reported speech. If the introducing verb is in the past, wave goodbye to the present tense and welcome the imperfect or subjunctive imperfect. 🕺
  • Perfect Past Swap: When the original statement is in passato prossimo, it’s time to switch to trapassato prossimo (past perfect) to keep the timeline straight. ⏳
  • Imperfect & Past Perfect: Good news! If you’re dealing with the imperfect or past perfect in direct speech, you get a free pass—no changes needed. 🎫
  • Future to Conditional: Got a future tense? Morph it into the conditional past to reflect a future that was spoken of in the past. It’s like time travel for grammar geeks! 🚀
  • Command to Infinitive: When orders are reported, drop the imperative and opt for the infinitive form. It’s less bossy and more narrative-friendly. 📖
  • Pronoun Puzzle: Pronouns in direct speech don’t always fit the reported speech puzzle. Adjust them accordingly to match the new speaker’s perspective. 🧩
  • Adverb Adventure: Adverbs of time and place need a makeover when moving to reported speech. “Today” becomes “that day,” “tomorrow” turns into “the day after,” and so on. 🗺️

Quick facts

How does reported speech differ from direct speech?

Reported speech involves rephrasing someone's words, often changing verb tenses, pronouns, and adverbs, unlike direct speech which quotes the exact words.

What happens to verb tenses in reported speech?

Verb tenses in reported speech change depending on whether the reporting verb is in the present or past tense, ensuring grammatical consistency.

How does the present tense change in reported speech?

In reported speech, the present tense often becomes the imperfect or imperfect subjunctive, altering "I am" to "she was" in Italian.

What transformation occurs to passato prossimo in reported speech?

The passato prossimo changes to trapassato prossimo, shifting "I went" to "she had gone," indicating a completed past action.

Does the imperfect tense change in reported speech?

No, the imperfect tense remains the same in reported speech, maintaining consistency in describing past habitual actions or states.

How is the future tense converted in reported speech?

The future tense becomes the conditional past, changing "I will do" to "he would have done," reflecting hypothetical future actions.

What happens to the imperative mood in reported speech?

The imperative mood is transformed into the infinitive form, converting commands like "Go home!" to "Maria told me to go home."

How do pronouns shift in reported speech?

Pronouns in reported speech adjust for perspective, changing "I" to "he/she" and "my" to "his/her," ensuring clarity and accuracy.

Which adverbs need adjustment in reported speech?

Adverbs of time and place, such as "today" to "that day" and "here" to "there," change to maintain context in reported speech.

Can you give an example of reported speech with adverbs?

Sure, "I don't want to go tomorrow" becomes "Maria said she didn't want to go the next day," reflecting the shift in time reference.

My Thoughts

What is reported speech?

Reported speech, also known as indirect speech (discorso indiretto), is when you report to someone what someone else said.

Of course, you can always do this by using the form:

Mario ha detto: “Sono stanco”.

Mario said: “I am tired”.

But this is not really how you actually talk, is it?

Instead, you’d say:

Mario said he’s tired.

Mario ha detto che è stanco.

In Italian, just as in English and other languages, you need to make various changes to the words you are reporting.

Mainly, you’ll have to change the tense of the speech, but you may also need to change pronouns and adverbs of time and place.

Let’s look at the rules then!

How to use reported speech with verb tenses?

First of all, let’s talk about verb tenses.

The verb that introduces the speech can be in the present, both if the speech is about the present:

“Sono stanca”.

Maria dice che è stanca.

or the past:

“Sono andata a correre” (Maria says: “I went running”.)

Maria dice che è andata a correre. (Maria says that she went running.)

As you can see, in this case, the tenses used in the reported speech do not need to change.

However, if the verb that introduces the speech is in the past, then the tenses within the speech will have to change. Here is how:

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The present becomes imperfect or subjunctive imperfect.

Sono stanca” (“I am tired”)

Maria ha detto che era stanca. (Maria said she was tired.)

The passato prossimo becomes trapassato prossimo (past perfect).

Sono andata a fare la spesa.”

Maria ha detto che era andata a fare la spesa.

The imperfect doesn’t change

Ero stanca.”

Maria ha detto che era stanca.

The past perfect doesn’t change

Avevo finito di lavorare.”

Maria ha detto che aveva finito di lavorare.

The future becomes conditional past.

Farò il medico da grande.”

Marco ha detto che avrebbe fatto il medico da grande.

The imperative becomes infinitive

  • Vai a casa!”
    Maria mi ha detto di andare a casa.

How to use reported speech with pronouns and adverbs?

When reporting sentences, of course, you will have to change other elements as well as the verb tense.

Here are pronouns and some adjectives:

  • Io/tu = lui/lei
  • noi/voi = loro
  • mio/tuo = suo
  • nostro/vostro = loro
  • mi/ti = le/gli/lo/la
  • ci/vi = gli
  • questo = quello

Here are some adverbs and their equivalents in reported speech.

  • qui/qua = lì/là
  • ora/adesso = allora
  • oggi = quel giorno
  • ieri = il giorno prima
  • domani = il giorno dopo
  • scorso = precedente/prima
  • fra (un mese) = dopo (un mese)

Practice with Quizlet

Here's a set of flashcards and quizzes to practice this grammar topic.

Reported speech: examples

“Non voglio andare alla festa domani.”

(“I don’t want to go to the party tomorrow.”)

Maria ha detto che non sarebbe voluta andare alla festa il giorno dopo.

(Maria said she did not want to go to the party the day after.)

“Stamattina mi sentivo stanco.”

(“This morning I felt tired.”)
Giorgio ha detto che quella mattina si sentiva stanco.

(Giorgio said that that morning he had felt tired.)

“La settimana scorsa siamo andati al mare.”

(“Last week we went to the seaside.”)
Hanno detto che la settimana prima erano andati al mare.

(They said that the week before they had gone to the seaside.)

Test your knowledge in 10 quick questions

What is indirect speech in Italian?

Indirect speech is a method of quoting someone else's words. This is achieved through the use of an introductory verb, such as "dire" (to say), "pensare" (to think), or "credere" (to think, to believe), among others.

Is reported speech difficult?

Reported speech is a relatively simple concept that relies on logic and common sense. In many languages, including your own, it involves using your own words to convey what someone else has said or written. Overall, it is not a particularly challenging concept to grasp.

Italian word of the day
Hai la febbre! Sì, mi è venuta l’influenza.
You have a fever! Yes, I got influenza.
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