2

Here is the given direct speech:

The old man said to his son, “Fie! You are such a coward.”

Here are the four possible ways for the indirect speech version:

  • a. The old man cried out in anger that it was shameful that his son was such a coward.
  • b. The old man exclaimed that it was shameful that he was such a coward.
  • c. The old man exclaimed that it was shameful that his son was such a coward.
  • d. The old man surprised that his son was such a coward.

Source:Learn Grammar

Question no. 19

Correct answer given is option A. But he is not addressing his son. So which option is correct? First or second or none of them?

Please explain reason.

1

The old man said to his son, “Fie! You are such a coward.”

None of the four possible indirect-speech versions accurately describe the direct-speech version:

  • ✘ a) The old man cried out in anger that it was shameful that his son was such a coward.

    The man didn't necessarily cry.
    The man wasn't necessarily angry.
    The man never said anything about shame.
    The restated version doesn't mention that he spoke to his son.

  • ✘ b) The old man exclaimed that it was shameful that he was such a coward.

    The man didn't necessarily exclaim his second sentence.
    The man never said anything about shame.
    The restated version doesn't mention anything about his son.

  • ✘ c) The old man exclaimed that it was shameful that his son was such a coward.

    The man didn't necessarily exclaim his second sentence.
    The man never said anything about shame.
    The restated version doesn't mention that he spoke to his son.

  • ✘ d) The old man surprised that his son was such a coward.

    The man wasn't necessarily suprised.
    The restated version doesn't mention that he spoke to his son.
    The restarted version is ungrammatical: "the old man suprised that."


The following is closer to anything else offered:

e) The old man exclaimed, and then told his son that he was (such) a coward.

I left out trying to translate fie and kept it just at giving an exclamation.

I also feel that such could be dropped in the indirect-speech version without losing any essential meaning. (It seems a bit awkward for it to be there.)


The degree of detail that needs to be preserved between direct speech and indirect speech can be somewhat subjective. So long as nothing in the indirect version misrepresents the direct version, details can be omitted without it being considered incorrect.

So, it's subjective if the full version of the indirect speech is needed, or if the following is sufficient:

f) The old man told his son that he was a coward.


Note that this is still possibly ambiguous. It's not clear who he is referring to—the old man or the old man's son.

But even the use of his son could be taken the wrong way:

The old man told his son that his son (the old man's grandson) was a coward.

The use of pronouns makes this awkward.

In the real world, context would clarify the referents. Or actual names would be used.

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1

Rather than answer the question, I'll advise you not to use the linked site to learn English.

In number 2, all three of the answers are acceptable English. The difference is only the speaker's reference point. "Pamela said that man was mortal" means I'm reporting on what she said then. "Pamela said that man is mortal" means I'm reporting on what she said as a statement of her current belief also. Without context we can't say which is correct. "Pamela said man is mortal" is essentially the same as the previous option.

Number 3 has three answers that are exactly the same!

Number 13 doesn't make any sense at all. The first answer is bad grammar. The third and fourth answers are exactly the same.

Number 17 is extremely ambiguous; any of "Ah!" and "Alas!" and "What a pity!" could be an expression of sadness.

And so forth. It's a very sloppy test, in my opinion. You should find something better.

In addition, it's simply not always possible to convert speech "directly" from direct to indirect speech or from indirect to direct. The questions in the test are sufficient proof of that. In such a conversion, a certain amount of interpretation will go into all but the most simple sentences...which means that any moderately complex sentence isn't a good test question because there are so many possible answers.

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  • The full OED says of exclamatory Fie! that it's no longer current in dignified language. Effectively, it's archaic (though perhaps survives in dialectal pockets). So your advice not to use the linked site to learn English is spot on. I didn't know the etymology until I just looked it up though - apparently it's an onomatopoeic representation of the sound ancient Romans made upon detecting an unpleasant smell. Which would probably be Poo! or Phew! today anyway, and which doesn't necessarily imply "shame, moral outrage". Just "disgust, revulsion". – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Aug 8 '19 at 16:01
  • ...even in Shakespeare Fie! doesn't always imply For shame! Sometimes it just indicates surprise, equivalent to today's Ooh!, Golly gosh!, etc. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Aug 8 '19 at 16:04
0

The exercise leaves lots of room for doubt about the competence of person who drew it up.

Options A & C do not make it clear that the old man was addressing his son.

Option B has the same problem, aggravated by including no mention of the son.

Option D is not even grammatical.

The sentence is an awkward one to turn into indirect speech. Possibly:

Exclaiming, the old man told his son angrily of the shame he felt at the son's cowardice.

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