There are two main ways of reporting what somebody has said and what we ourselves may have said: the direct speech and the indirect speech.

For example:
Lorenzo ha detto: “Vado a dormire”(Lorenzo said: “I’m going to sleep”.)

Lorenzo ha detto che andava a dormire. (Lorenzo said he was going to sleep.)

•    Direct speech

The direct speech reports something that has been said or written, with exactly the same words used by the quoted person or text. Words are contained between quotation marks, called virgolette alte “  ” or virgolette basse «   », while the colon : always precedes the opening of the virgolette.

For example:
Marco disse: «Ho fame» (Marco said: «I’m hungry»)

Marco disse: “Ho fame”

Sometimes speech’s beginning can be signaled by a dash, set immediately after the semicolon.

For example: Marco disse: - Ho fame.

In direct speech, who quotes a person or a text, he directly introduces what someone else’s said or wrote: he introduces the voice of another person. The one who quotes is set in the position of a simply witness, he doesn’t introduce opinions.

•    Indirect speech

In the indirect speech someone else’s words are reported by a voice, for example by a narrator’s voice, that doesn’t quote the very same words pronounced by the speaker, but he reformulates them, including them in his speech or in his report. Neither the column nor the quotation marks are used: the reported speech depends on verbs like dire (to tell), domandare (to ask), rispondere (to answer), etc.

For example: Marco disse che aveva fame. (Marco said he was hungry.)

•    From direct to indirect speech

The passage from direct to indirect speech is always possible and it happens according to precise conditions. Changes are due to the direct speech’s passage from a main clause’s condition to a dependent clause’s condition. In this way, the subject and its point of view also change.

- The colon and the quotation marks aren’t used anymore. The sentence form independent becomes dependent.
Maria dice: «Sono stanca».     →     Maria dice che è stanca.
Maria says: «I’m tired».              Maria says she’s tired.

- Personal pronouns, possessive adjectives and pronouns of first and second persons change into the third person.
Maria disse: «Io intanto vado, vi aspetto davanti a casa mia». (Maria said: «I’m going, I’ll wait for you in front of my house.»)
    Maria disse che intanto lei andava e che li aspettava davanti a casa sua. (Maria said that in the meanwhile she was going home: she would have waited for them in front of her house.)

- If the verb introducing the indirect speech is inflected to the present, the present perfect or the simple future indicative, moods and tenses of the dependent sentence remain the same of the ones in the direct speech.
Maria dice: «Ho ragione».            Maria dice che ha ragione.
Maria says: «I’m right».              Maria says she’s right.    

- If the verb introducing the indirect speech is conjugated in a past tense, in the dependent sentence these are the necessary changes:

• the present indicative becomes, depending on the circumstances, imperfect indicative or imperfect subjunctive.
Maria disse: «Sono stanca».          Maria disse che era stanca.
(Maria says: «I’m tired».               Maria said she was tired.)
Maria chiese al ragazzo: «Come ti chiami?».      Maria chiese al ragazzo come si chiamasse.     
(Maria asked the boy: «What’s your name?»    Maria asked the boy what was his name.)                               

the indicative present perfect and the past perfect become indicative pluperfect.                  Maria disse: «Ho avuto ragione».       Maria disse che aveva avuto ragione.
(Maria said: «I’m right».                  Maria said she had been right.)

indicative simple future becomes past conditional.
Maria rispose: «Non ti deluderò più».       Maria rispose che non l’avrebbe più deluso.
(Maria answered: «I won’t disappoint you anymore»    Maria answered that she wouldn’t disappoint him anymore.)

the imperative becomes imperfect subjunctive.
Maria ordinò: «Andate! ».           Maria ordinò che se ne andassero.
Maria ordered them: «Go away!»      Maria ordered them to go away.

- When the subject of the principal sentence is the same of the dependet’s one, the indirect speech can be expressed in an implicit form. The main clause is followed by an infinitive: present, to indicate a contemporary event, or past, to indicate a previous one.
Maria dice: «Sono stanca».              Maria dice di essere stanca.

(Maria says: «I’m tired».                 Maria said she was tired.)
Maria dice: «Ho sbagliato».              Maria dice di avere sbagliato.
(Maria says: «I’m wrong».               Maria says she have been wrong.)

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