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Reported speech of imperative sentences requires use of either "infinitive" or "object+infinitive".Which one to choose if both the options are available in an MCQ. Consider the following direct speech

"Call the first witness", said the Judge.

Which one of the following options we should go with for the reported speech of the above sentence?

1. The Judge commanded to call the first witness.

2. The Judge commanded them to call the first witness.

Please explain any change in meaning in the two cases, if any. I am going with option 1 but the book is with option 2.

3 Answers 3

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If you don't specify "object+infinitive", it can sound like "everyone/anyone present" is meant. Context can override this.

John asked who had the ball. (Sounds like John asked everyone who was around who had the ball. But if previous sentences were saying that John was talking to someone specific, that specific person might be assumed.)

The Judge commanded to call the first witness. (Since this is a context where a procedure is being followed, and also a legal context, reader/listener is going to assume the judge commanded "someone" to call the first witness.)

In the second sentence, someone not paying attention might still wonder "which side's lawyer is calling the first witness?" unless you specified that in earlier sentences.

So, it's most clear and least ambiguous if you include the object pronoun.

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The verb "command" is usually transitive. It takes an object, the person or thing that receives the command. In this way it is like the verb "tell"

I told him to tidy up.

The intransitive uses ("The king's job is to command") are not used with infinitive complements.

So an object "them" is needed, and the book is correct....

... But I agree with Lambie, Judges don't command, they "order".

The judge ordered them to call the first witness.

But who are "them". There was no mention in the question of "them". You can manage this by using a passive

The judge ordered that the first witness be called.

Okay, so that is nice and formal, and we've completely ruined the impact of the sentence...

So how about

"Call the first witness" ordered the judge.

That's a much more impactful sentence than any of the reported speech ones!

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  1. The Judge commanded to call the first witness.

  2. The Judge commanded them to call the first witness.

Both the sentences above are inaccurate.

In English, judges order things, they don't command them. Command is more of a military term. "The general commanded a huge army."

The judge ordered the first witness be called.
The judge ordered the defense lawyer to call the first witness.

This is because we say: to be called as a witness in a case.

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