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Misrelated participles

A participle is considered to belong to the noun/pronoun which precedes

Tom, horrified at what he had done, could at first say nothing.

Romeo, believing that Juliet was dead, decided to kill himself.

A man carrying a large parcel got out of the bus.

Note that the participle may be separated from its noun/pronoun by a main

Jones and Smith came in, followed by their wives.

She rushed past the policeman, hoping he wouldn't ask what she had in
her suitcase.

If there is no noun/pronoun in this position the participle is considered to
belong to the subject of the following main verb:

Stunned by the blow, Peter fell heavily. (Peter had been stunned.)

Believing that he is alone, the villain expresses his thoughts aloud.

If this principle is disregarded confusion results.

Waiting for a bus a brick fell on my head makes it appear that the brick
was waiting for a bus, which is nonsense.

A participle linked in this way to the wrong noun/pronoun is said to be
'misrelated'. The above sentence should be rewritten As I was waiting for a
bus a brick fell on my head.
Other examples of misrelated participles:

When using this machine it must be remembered . . .

Correct form: When using this machine you must remember . . .

Believing that I was the only person who knew about this
beach, the sight of someone else on it annoyed me very much.

Correct form: As / believed I was the only person etc.

or Believing that I was the only person on the beach, I was an
noyed by the sight of someone else.



Main points

Direct speech means the words actually spoken. We put direct speech in
quotation marks (‘I’m bored’). We use it when we want to repeat the exact

But usually there is no need to repeat the exact words. In reported speech we
only give the meaning of what was said (He said he’s bored.)

Report structures contain two clauses. The first clause is the reporting clause,
which contains a reporting verb such as say, tell, ask. If we report people’s
thoughts and feelings we may use verbs as think, feel, believe, etc.
The second clause in a report structure is the reported clause, which contains
the information that you are reporting. The reported clause can be a ‘that’-
clause, a ‘to’-infinitive clause, an ‘if’-clause, or a ‘wh’-word clause.

The boy said that he didn’t do it.

The boss told me to type this letter.

Jane asked if she could take that book.

He asked where to put it.


2. Statements in reported speech
1. If you want to report a statement, you use a ‘that’-clause after certain verbs.
The most useful are:

Add decide point out

Admit* deny promise

Agree explain* reassure**

Announce* grumble remark

Answer insist remind**

Argue inform** reply

Assure** mention* say*

Boast notify** suggest*

Claim object tell**

Complain* observe warn

Convince** persuade**

With starred verbs you can mention the hearer but only after the preposition

The little girl complained to her mother that nobody talked to her.

The verbs with two stars must have the object:

He informed us that he would be late.

2.say or tell?
Indirect statements are usually introduced by say, or tell + object.
Say + to + object is possible but far less usual than tell + object.
We use tell without an indirect object only in the expressions tell a story,
tell the truth, tell a lie, tell the time
, etc.
The boss said they could leave early.
The boss told them they could leave early.


Tense changes

Indirect speech is usually introduced by a verb in the past tense. Verbs in the
reported clause have to be changed into a corresponding ‘more past’ tense.

Direct speech Indirect speech
Simple present Simple past
I write home every week. He said that he wrote home every week.

Present continuous Past continuous
I am learning English. He said that he was learning English.

Present perfect Past perfect
I have learned the rule. He said that he had learned the rule.

Present perfect continuous Past perfect continuous
I have been playing tennis. He said that he had been playing tennis.

Simple past Past perfect
I finished reading the book. He said that he had finished reading the book.

Future Conditional
I shall see her tomorrow. He said that he would see her tomorrow.

Future continuous Conditional continuous
I shall be seeing her He said that he would be seeing her

tomorrow anyway. tomorrow anyway.

But note: Conditional Conditional
I would like to take it. He said that he would like to take it.


4. Unchanged tenses
1. When the reporting verb is present, future, or present perfect, the tenses
used are usually the same as those in the speaker’s original words.
‘I shall be there in time.’ He says he will be there in time.
‘I visited three countries.’ She will ask you if you visited three countries.
‘I don’t want to do it.’ He has already said that he doesn’t want to
do it.’

2. But sometimes, even after past reporting verbs, the tenses can remain un
a) If the statement is still up to date when we report it, then we have a
choice. We often leave the tense the same, but we can change it:
She told me that she is (or was) only 25.
Tom told me that his father owns (or owned) a shop.
b) In sentences like these, we prefer present tenses if we feel that we are
reporting facts; we prefer past tenses if we are not sure that they are true.
She said she was only 25. (I am not sure of this fact.)
That’s why, in news reports the tense is usually changes because some
people may think the statement is untrue.
The Prime Minister said that the givernment had made the right
c) If the statement is out of date, then we change the tense in reported
She told me that she was 25 last year.
d) In theory the past tense changes to the past perfect, but in spoken
English it is often left unchanged, provided this doesn’t cause confusion.
He said, ‘I loved her’ must become He said he had loved her as
otherwise there would be a change of meaning. But He said, ‘The show
was splendid’
could be reported He said that the show was/had been
e) The past continuous tense in theory changes to the past perfect
continuous but in practice usually remains unchanged.
She said, ‘When I saw him he was talking to a man.
She said that when she saw him he was talking to a man.
The exception is when it refers to a completed action:
She said, ‘We were planning to move to a new flat
but then decided not to.
She said that they had been planning to move to a new flat but
had decided not to.
f) In written English past tenses usually do change to past perfect but there
are certain exceptions:

1. Past Simple and Past Continuous in time clauses do not normally change.
The verb in the main clause can either remain unchanged or become the
past perfect:

He said, ‘When I was living/lived with my friend I cleaned the flat.
He said that when he was living/lived with his friend he usually
cleaned/had usually cleaned the flat.

2. A past tense used to describe a state of affairs which still exists when the
speech is reported remains unchanged.

She said, ‘I decided not to buy the house because it was in the
industrial area.
She said she had decided not to buy the house because it was in
the industrial area


Date: 2015-12-11; view: 938

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