Verbs form a vital component of the English language - they are one of the parts of speech that define it. Verbs are the action part of the basic communicating tool – the sentence. A sentence is not complete without a verb and a noun in it. Thus, the verb is one of the most important elements of the language. One of the places where verbs are useful is in reported direct or indirect speech. These are called reporting verbs and this is the first of two High English quizzes which will help you to understand their use.
We have learnt in the past various properties of verbs and the way to use them in sentences. Verbs, besides being action verbs, also indicate tense and need to be in agreement with the subject of the sentence. Reporting verbs are an important element in reported speech and they are used effectively to convey a wealth of meaning to the communication. Reporting verbs are used both in direct and indirect speech. The usefulness of reporting verbs can be seen in the following examples of indirect speech:
‘The customer SAID that the restaurant was filthy.’
‘The customer COMPLAINED that the restaurant was filthy.’
‘The customer DECLARED that the restaurant was filthy.’
Using direct speech the sentences would read like this:
'"The restaurant is filthy," the customer SAID.'
'"The restaurant is filthy," the customer COMPLAINED.'
'"The restaurant is filthy," the customer DECLARED.'
We notice that the capitalised words are the reporting verbs. We also notice that the reporting verbs themselves set the tone for the kind of message that is communicated. The first sentence is a plain statement, the second sentence has an element of complaint and in the third sentence, there is a heralding (negatively) of the quality of the restaurant.
Reporting verbs can express certain types of mood/manner. In addition, certain moods/manner can be expressed by particular reporting verbs. Thus, the same reporting verb can express different moods/manner and a mood/manner can be expressed by different reporting verbs. We note that reporting verbs are used both in direct and indirect speech. The quiz that follows helps you to understand reporting verbs.