Monday, 8 October 2012

Tell Me, What Were Your Fellow Students Saying?


SCENARIO
Imagine you are talking to a relative, a friend or a colleague. Maybe you are catching up with recent changes to your Spanish lessons. Perhaps you have been canvassing your fellow students about the changes. The other person wants a report and says to you something like: "tell me, what were your fellow students saying?".

In Spanish, he/ she could choose to be less formal and say to you:
Dime, ¿qué te decían tus compañeros?

On the other hand, he/ she could choose to be more formal and say to you:
Dígame, ¿qué le decían (a usted) sus compañeros?


OUR TIP
The question is an invitation for you to report what other people said to you. When reporting what other people say, you DO NOT need to be concerned about the level of formality in the other person's question. Your main concern should be about communicating what people said. Perhaps you want to report that:
  • A single person said something - affirmative;
  • A single person said something – negative;
  • A single person said nothing;
  • Two or more people said something - affirmative;
  • Two or more people said something – negative;
  • Two or more people said nothing;


Here are some examples of how you could reply:
  • Pedro me decía que antes aprendía mucho más español* (Pedro was saying that before he was learning much more Spanish);
  • Pedro me decía que antes no tenía tantos deberes* (Pedro was saying that before he didn't have as much homework);
  • Pedro no me decía nada (Pedro didn't say anything);
  • Ann y Simon me decían que antes aprendían mucho más español* (Ann and Simon were saying that before they were learning much more Spanish);
  • Ann y Simon me decían que antes no tenían tantos deberes* ( Ann and Simon were saying that before they didn't have as much homework);
  • Ann y Simon no me decían nada ( Ann and Simon didn't say anything );

Now you should practise further replying to someone who says to you:
Dime, ¿qué te decían tus compañeros?

*Please see grammar below

Grammar-Indirect Speech
Indirect speech is a form of speech which helps express what people say but using our own words, not theirs. The situation above and the reply examples are typical of the use of indirect speech. In Spanish “decir” (to say/ to tell) is a verb commonly used to enable the speaker to report what other people say. It should be noted that indirect speech subordinate/ dependent clauses do not require a subjunctive.

Some further examples of indirect speech are:
  • ¿Me decías que ibas a hacer los deberes? (were you telling me that you were going to do your homework?);
  • Ian nos decía que era fácil aprender español (Ian was telling us that learning Spanish was easy);
  • Estábamos diciendo que ibamos a hacer los deberes (we were saying that we were going to do our homework);
  • ¿Decíais que aprendíais español por internet? (were you saying that you were learning Spanish online?)
  • Ann y Simon decían que les gustaba aprender español por internet (Ann and Simon were saying that they enjoyed learning Spanish online);

Now you should practise the use of indirect speech with some more sentences of your own

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