I came across this sentence in a high school grammar book. What should be the correct Indirect form of this sentence ?

“So help me, Heaven!” he cried, “I will never steal again.”

According to me it should be

He urged the Heaven to help him and swore to never steal again.


Urging the Heaven to help him, he swore to never steal again.


He pleaded the Heaven to help him and swore to never steal again.

I am really confused. Please tell what should be the correct answer.

P.S : The book has mentioned this as the correct answer, but I am not at all convinced.

He called upon Heaven to witness his resolve never to steal again.

And why can I not use the typical indirect exclamatory sentence construct "He exclaimed with sorrow..." here ?

  • I agree with the book's answer. Compare to On my mother's grave, I will never steal again.
    – Davo
    Sep 18 '17 at 12:02
  • Yeah but doesn't the book's answer tamper a lot with the sentence ? I mean, is it okay to insert so many new words (upon, witness, resolve) just to convert it to indirect form ? Sep 18 '17 at 12:19
  • It's not just the indirect form, it'st he underlying meaning (which is displayed in the direct form).
    – Davo
    Sep 18 '17 at 12:21

The uncertainty arises because "So help me, Heaven" doesn't really mean anything, so much as it intensifies the rest of what he says.

This post describes how So help me god came to be used as the end of a promise of truthfulness in court. Essentially:

The phrase "so help me God," a popular component of grand and petit juror oath statutes, is actually an abbreviated form of the oath, "So may God help me at the judgment day if I speak true, but if I speak false, then may He withdraw His help from me."

This is a plausible origin, but not a commonly known one. So help me, X is now used in the US to simply mean "you better believe I am going to do what I say I am going to do," and is not necessarily associated with commitment to good behavior.

Samples of "so help me" being used in less-than holy ways:

Back to your sentence:

“So help me, Heaven!” he cried, “I will never steal again.”

I don't think it is correct to say that he is asking for assistance in not stealing, but your use of swore is good, because it brings in a religious overtone.

My indirect paraphrase would therefore be:

He emphatically swore that he would never steal again.

That isn't to say that the book is wrong - there are lots of ways to convert any sentence - but I agree with you that they added a little bit of extra interpretation.

  • Great answer ! Just what I was looking for. Thanks a lot ! :) Sep 19 '17 at 7:37

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