Hi Teachers,

This is what Coke answered to the old lady.

They are just my work-clothes, Coke answered.

This the Reported Speech one, right?

Coke answered (to the old lady) that they were just his work-clothes.

The information between paretheses is optional, isn't it?

Thanks in advance


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1 2
If you use "answered," to sound natural you need to do a bit more rewriting.

He answered the old lady, saying that they were just his work clothes.

He answered the old lady's question by telling her that they were...

He responded that they were ..

His answer to the old lady was that they were...

He responded by saying that they were...
Thinking SpainThis is what Coke answered to the old lady. ... Coke answered (to the old lady) that they were just his work-clothes.
"answered to the old lady" doesn't work.

When you answer TO someone, it's like saying that you must explain your behavior to them, that you must answer their questions. That person has the right to question you about your behavior. That person is going to judge your conduct. For example, according to some religions, everyone must ultimately answer to God. A more mundane example: At work, you answer to your boss.

I'd keep it simple and say: Coke told the old lady that they were just his work clothes.

CJ
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Hi Jim,

Thank you for your reply.

It's very clear that the verb 'answered' it's no very appropriate according to your explanation.

This is the original sentence:

You know, your clothes are in a terrible state, the old lady said after the meal. You ruined them when you had the accident!

That’s all right. They are just my work clothes, Coke answered.

Are you telling me, that most of the times, when I have the verb 'answered' in direct speech I should change it to 'told' for reported speech, except for examples as the ones you have given me?

Then, can I also use the verb 'said' instead of 'told' for the same purpose.

The resulting sentence should be, 'Coke said (that) they were just his work-clothes.

My conclusion, it's better to use the verb 'told' and 'said' for reported speech when we have the verb 'answered' in direct speech. Am I right?

Best regards

TS
Hi Grammar Geek,

Thank you for your reply. You have given me more than quite a few possibilities to sound natural.

Best regards

TS
Thinking SpainAre you telling me, that most of the times, when I have the verb 'answered' in direct speech I should change it to 'told' for reported speech, except for examples as the ones you have given me?
No. You can use "answered". Just leave out the information about who the answer was addressed to.

You could use He answered that .... I would not use He answered to [someone] that ....

It doesn't sound too bad with a pronoun: He answered her that ....

Be aware that these observations have nothing to do specifically with reported speech. They are simply observations about the grammar of the verb "answer".

Thinking SpainMy conclusion, it's better to use the verb 'told' and 'said' for reported speech when we have the verb 'answered' in direct speech. Am I right?
No. "said" is good too. Use "told" if you mention the person addressed; use "said" if you don't. Neither one is necessarily better than the other.

He told the old lady that ... / He said that ...

__________________

Technical note: You don't have "answered", "said", "replied", "told", or any of those in direct speech. These are simply verbs for reporting direct speech in a narrative form. Below, "I'm wearing my work clothes" should be understood as direct speech. "he said" should not be understood as direct speech, but as a clause that reports the direct speech.

"I'm wearing my work clothes", he said.

Direct speech Reporting clause

There is no requirement to use the same verb of reporting when you cast the sentence as indirect speech (reported speech). The clause that reports the indirect speech does not have to contain the same verb that was used to report the direct speech. You can use any verb that makes sense in the main clause of your report.

He claimed that he was wearing his work clothes.

He mentioned that he was wearing his work clothes.

He declared that he was wearing his work clothes.

CJ
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Hi Jim,

Thank you so much for your reply and examples given.

Original Sentence:

You know, your clothes are in a terrible state, the old lady said after the meal. You ruined them when you had the accident!

That’s all right. They are just my work clothes, Coke answered.

Possibilties among others:

a) He told the old lady (that) they were just his work clothes.

b) He told her (that) they were just his work clothes.

c) He said (that) they were just his work clothes.

d) He answered (that) they were just his work clothes.

e) He answered the old lady (that) they were just his work clothes.

f) He answered her (that) they were just his work clothes.

All the (that's) are optional, aren't they?

By they way, I've also seen this construction:

c) He said (that) they were just his work clothes to the old lady.

'... to the old lady.' optional. But now that I recall, if I'm not mistaken, in one of your post you told me, it is not correct. Please could yo confirm this point to me?

I really appreciate all your explanations. They are a great help.Emotion: nodding

Best regards

Conrad
Thinking Spaina) He told the old lady (that) they were just his work clothes.
b) He told her (that) they were just his work clothes.
c) He said (that) they were just his work clothes.
All OK. that is optional as shown.

Thinking Spaind) He answered (that) they were just his work clothes.
e) He answered the old lady (that) they were just his work clothes.
f) He answered her (that) they were just his work clothes.
All OK with that. A bit rough on my ears without that.

Thinking SpainBy they way, I've also seen this construction:
c) He said (that) they were just his work clothes to the old lady.
thatis optional as shown. I would not tack "to the old lady" onto the end like that for all the tea in China. Emotion: wink

Although it is technically grammatical, it strikes me as grotesque. Emotion: smile

CJ
Hi Jim,

Once again thank you very much!

d) He answered (that) they were just his work clothes.

e) He answered the old lady (that) they were just his work clothes.

f) He answered her (that) they were just his work clothes.

All OK with that. A bit rough on my ears without that.

So for these ones the 'that's' are not optional. it sounds much better with than without them.

TS
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