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24.172 Indirect Discourse

Make sure you read Croy's notes about indirect discourse in section 172. Also, if you are a student of Latin: rejoice! The accusative + infinitive style of indirect discourse is much less common in Greek than in Latin.

You have already seen that in Greek it is possible to express indirect discourse with ὅτι in Greek, much like the English word "that." The only important difference between the use of Greek ὅτι and English "that" is the complicated way that English applies "sequence of tense" rules. Greek is much simpler than English in this regard at least!

In Greek, the indirect speech is reported in the same tense as in the direct speech. So, for example, if someone says "I am happy," then Greek would use the present tense in all forms of the indirect speech, even in the past tense. For example, you can make a statement like "He said that he is happy."

In English, you have to change the tense of the reported speech according to the complex rules for sequence of tense: "He said that he was happy." Luckily for you, as a native speaker of English, you know the rules for sequence of tense without having learned those rules in school.

For more examples of the contrast between the Greek style of indirect speech with ὅτι and the English sequence of tense rules, see the examples in Croy.

In addition to the indirect discourse reported with ὅτι, there is also a construction using an infinitive plus an accusative subject. We also use this construction in English, as in sentences such as "I consider her to be my best friend" or "I believe him to be an honest person." Given this similar construction in English, you will probably not find the accusative plus infinitive construction in Greek to be too difficult.

Biblical Greek Online. Laura Gibbs, Ph.D. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License. You must give the original author credit. You may not use this work for commercial purposes. If you alter, transform, or build upon this work, you may distribute the resulting work only under a license identical to this one. Page last updated: April 9, 2005 8:06 PM

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