Indirect Discourse

English tends to backshift the tense of reported speech. For example, if I said to someone “My name is Simon” and they reported that to someone else, they would say, “He said his name was Simon”. The tense is backshifted and, obviously, appropiate pronouns are altered.

Greek doesn’t backshift the tense, rather the original aspect is maintained. For example in John 1:39, two of the disciples follow Jesus, he asked them what they want and they say “Where are you staying?” (v38). They go with him and they:

εἶδαν ποῦ μένει
lit. they saw where he stays.

The general rules are: aspect retained; mood and person can be changed.

Forms of indirect discouse:

  • statements
    • introduced by
      • indicative + ὁτι
      • infinitive of indirect discouse
      • participle of indirect discourse (see post on participles)
  • commands/requests
    • use
      • infinitive
      • ἱνα + subj.
  • questions.
    • use
      • interrogatives (the example about, John 1:39, is an indirect question, indicated by interrogative που)
      • εἱ

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