Caibidil a Trí Déag: Sentences and Syntax (abairt agus comhréir)

indirect speech (an chlaoninsint)

One can either present something thought or said word for word with quotes ( = direct speech), or one converts that which was said into a subordinating clause (= indirect speech)

for example:

direct speech  indirect speech:
"Tá sé ag cur an cóta air" arsa mé Dúirt mé gur chuir sé an cóta air
"He's putting on the coat " I said. I said that he put on the coat.
"Cuir ort an cóta!" ar sise. Dúirt sé leis an cóta a chur air.
"Put on the coat !" she said. She told him that he should put on the coat.
"Cuireadh Pól an chota air!", I said Dúirt mise Pól an cóta a chur air.
I said: "Paul should put on the coat!" I said that Paul should put on the coatl.

As one can see, indirect speech causes a few changes in the sentence structure.

Here are a few rules:

the verb "to say"
In direct speech, it's mostly the defect verb ar (with a pronoun of the 3rd person) or. arsa (with other pronouns and nouns).
ar/arsa is indefinite in tense (said)
In indirect speech, ar/arsa cannot be used. (Instead one must always take a form of the verb abair.)
As well, ar/arsa can only come after the quoted speech, before that one would also have to use a form of abair in direct speech.

Instead of to say one can also use other verbs like order, ask, bid, wish, think, mean etc.

If the main clause is in the preterite, the tense for the indirect speech changes to:

direct speech indirect speech
present preterite
habitual present conditional
future conditional
subjunctive present subjunctive preterite
or conditional
or verbal noun
imperative verbal noun
neg. imperative gan + verbal noun

The imperative is always given as the verbal noun (no matter if the main clause is in the preterite)
By an imperative of the 3rd person ("He should ..") the form subject + verbal noun.(see 2nd example above)
The subjunctive present is given as the verbal noun only in the case of wishes (optative).


Usually, indirect speech is introduced via go / nach (that / that not)
   Dúirt sé go mbeadh sé ann = He said he would be there
   Dúirt sí nach raibh sé ann = She said that he wasn't there.

If the verb stands as the verbal noun, then use an infinitive construction ("infinitive with/without to ")
   Dúirt sé le Pól imeacht = He told Paul he should (be) go(ing).
   Dúirt sé le Pól tae a ól = He told Paul he should (be) drink(ing) tea.

In copular clauses, the copular form gur / nach is most common
   Dúirt sé gur mhaith leis tae = He said that he would like tea.
   Deir sí nach maith léi tae = She said that she doesn't like tea.

Indirect questions are introduced with the appropriate interrogatives (an, cé, cad, cá, conas, etc.) , instead of an also .
   D'fhiafraigh sí de ar mhaith leis tae = She asked him if he would like tea.
   D'fhiafraigh sí de raibh an cailín óg = She asked him where the young girl was.
   Ní sé a rinne é = He asked himself who had done it.

Indirect double questions (if or if not) are denoted by cé acu or an in the first part and nó nach in the second:
   D'fhiafraigh sí de cé acu a bhí sé sásta nó nach raibh = She asked him if he was satisfied or not

Real conditional clauses in the future tense come after main clauses in the preterite in the conditional and are introduced with instead of .

temporal adverbs
If the main clause is in the preterite, the temporal adverb also must be changed.

translation  direct speech indirect speech literally
today inniu an lá sin "that day "
yesterday inné an lá roimhe sin "that day before"
day before last arú inné dhá lá roimhe sin "2 days before that "
tomorrow amárach an lá arna mhárach "the day after-its morning "
day after next arú amárach i gceann dhá lá "ahead 2 days "
tonight anocht an oíche sin "that night "
last night aréir an oíche roimhe sin "night before that"
this year i mbliana an bhliain sin "that year "
last year anuraidh an bhliain roimhe sin "year before that "
next year an bhliain seo chugainn an bhliain a bhí chugainn "the year, that to-us was"

direct indirect
"Ach beidh mé ann anocht" arsa mé Dúirt mé go mbeinn ann an oíche sin 
"But tonight I will be there," I said I said that tonight I would be there.

demonstrative pronouns and adverbs
If the main clause and the indirect speech are in the 3rd person, the demonstrative part changes, d.h. this becomes that, here becomes there.

translation direct indirect
here anseo ansin, ansiúd, ann
this seo  pron.: sin, siúd
adject.: sin, úd

"Bhí sé anseo" arsa Seán  -  Dúirt Seán go raibh sé ansin (Seán said that he was here)

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(C) Lars Braesicke 1999 / 2003