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Harvold, who has not passed his driving test, said, 'I realized the bus was out of control when I was speaking to the students on the microphone.'

'We hit a barrier and swerved to the other side of the road and I grabbed the wheel,' Harvold explained.

Are those quotations objects of the verbs say and explain?

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[1] Harvold, who has not passed his driving test, said, "I realized the bus was out of control when I was speaking to the students on the microphone".

[2] "We hit a barrier and swerved to the other side of the road and I grabbed the wheel", Harvold explained.

No: direct reported speech does not function as an object.

In [1] the direct speech is embedded as the complement of the reporting verb "say".

In [2] it is non-embedded, functioning as a main clause. The reporting frame "Harvold explained" has the status of a parenthetical.

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  • Thank you for adding to this post. In [1] it's a complex sentence, a dependent clause embedded in a main clause, which has a direct speech as complement of its verb. Do we also have a complex sentence in [2], with the parenthetical addition being a dependent clause?
    – mjfneto
    Jan 29 at 14:57
  • @mjfneto [1] is not a complex sentence. In the case of direct reported speech, as in your examples, the reported speech (a complement) in [1] is not actually a subordinate clause. The construction involves the embedding of a text, not a clause as such, and the sentence is thus a simple one. The same applies in [2], where we have a simple clause with a parenthetical rather than an embedded subordinate clause as such.
    – BillJ
    Jan 29 at 16:24
  • In [1], isn't the clause between commas a dependent clause? It's nonessential but dependent nonetheless, isn't it?
    – mjfneto
    Jan 29 at 17:01
  • @mjfneto Yes, I overlooked the fact that there is a subordinate relative clause, thus it's a complex sentence. My apologies.
    – BillJ
    Jan 29 at 17:06
  • It's completely fine! My "embedded" qualifying "dependent clause" might have been the source of confusion.
    – mjfneto
    Jan 29 at 17:20

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