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Reporting verbs

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Reporting verbs

♦ Sometimes when you are reporting what people say or believe, you don´t know, or you  don´t want to say, who exactly the `people´ are. So you use an impersonal construction:

People believe that thousands of birds died.

The same idea can be expressed by using the passive in two different ways:
a) subject + passive of reporting verb + `to´ infinitive: Hundreds of thousands of birds are believed to have died.
b) It + passive of reporting verb + that + clause: It is believed that hundreds of thousands of birds died.

○ Some other reporting verbs that can be used in this way are: calculate, claim, consider, discover, estimate, expect, feel, hope, know, prove, report, say, show, think, understand, etc.

○ With present reference, the passive is followed by the present infinitive:
People think that Johnson is in Cardiff: Johnson is thought to be in Cardiff.

○ With past reference, the passive is followed by the past infinitive:
People believe that Johnson left Cardiff last month: Johnson is believed to have left Cardiff last month.

Present and past continuous infinitives are also used:
They think that the forger is living in Florence: The forger is thought to be living in Florence.
People know that the suspect has been dealing with drugs: The suspect is known to have been dealing with drugs.

Passive infinitives can also appear:
People believe that the portrait was painted by Vermeer: The portrait is believed to have been painted by Vermeer.
They think that the staff are given a bonus whenever they have to work overtime: The staff are thought to be given a bonus whenever they have to work overtime.

The reporting verb can also be past:
People considered the government had spent too much: The government was considered to have paid too much.

EXERCISE

♦ Rewrite each sentence so that the meaning stays the same.

1 People think that neither side wanted war.
Neither side is ………………………………………………………………………………………
2 People say that fewer than 1,000 blue whales survive in the southern hemisphere.
Fewer ………………………………………………………………………………………………….
3 Everyone knows that eating fruit is good for you.
Eating fruit …………………………………………………………………………………………..
4 People consider that one in three bathing beaches is unfit for swimming.
One in three bathing beaches ………………………………………………………………….
5 At least 130,000 dolphins are reported to be caught in the nets of tuna fishers every year.
It is ……………………………………………………………………………………………………..
6 It is estimated that in the past 15 years about 10 million dolphins have been killed.
About 10 million dolphins …………………………………………………………………….
7 In ancient Greece people thought dolphins were men who had abandoned life on land.
In ancient Greece it ………………………………………………………………………………
8 In ancient Rome it was believed that dolphins carried souls to heaven.
In ancient Rome dolphins ……………………………………………………………………..
9 People say that the company invested fifty million pounds last week.
The company ……………………………………………………………………………………….
10 People say Mr Clark was difficult to work with when he was younger.
Mr Clark ……………………………………………………………………………………………..
11 Someone has calculated that the water of the River Rhine contains over 2,000 chemicals.
It ………………………………………………………………………………………………………..
12 Everyone thought the painting had been destroyed in the fire.
The painting …………………………………………………………………………………………
13 It is believed that the Chinese invented gunpowder.
The Chinese …………………………………………………………………………………………
14 About 1 million papers are thought to have been sold.
People …………………………………………………………………………………………………
15 It is thought that the two injured men were repairing high-tension cable.
The two ……………………………………………………………………………………………….
16 We hope that the government has prepared a plan.
The government ……………………………………………………………………………………
17 People say that Mr Bond was having business difficulties when he was charged with fraud.
Mr Bond ………………………………………………………………………………………………
18 It is thought that this treasure dates from the 19th century.
This treasure …………………………………………………………………………………………
19 People believe that a professional thief stole the painting.
It …………………………………………………………………………………………………………

KEYS

1 People think that neither side wanted war: Neither side is thought to have wanted war.
2 People say that fewer than 1,000 blue whales survive in the southern hemisphere: Fewer than 1,000 blue whales are said to survive in the southern hemisphere.
3 Everyone knows that eating fruit is good for you: Eating fruit is known to be good for you.
4 People consider that one in three bathing beaches is unfit for swimming: One in three bathing beaches is considered unfit for swimming.
5 At least 130,000 dolphins are reported to be caught in the nets of tuna fishers every year: It is reported that at least 130,000 dolphins are caught in the nets of tuna fishers every year.
6 It is estimated that in the past 15 years about 10 million dolphins have been killed: About 10 million dolphins are estimated to have been killed in the past 15 years.
7 In ancient Greece people thought dolphins were men who had abandoned life on land: ancient Greece it was thought that dolphins were men who had abandoned life on earth.
8 In ancient Rome it was believed that dolphins carried souls to heaven: In ancient Rome dolphins were believed to carry souls to heaven.
9 People say that the company invested fifty million pounds last week: The company is said to have invested fifty million pounds last week.
10 People say Mr Clark was difficult to work with when he was younger: Mr Clark is said to have been difficult to work with when he was younger.
11 Someone has calculated that the water of the River Rhine contains over 2,000 chemicals: It has been calculated that the water of the River Rhine contains over…
12 Everyone thought the painting had been destroyed in the fire: The painting was thought to have been destroyed in the fire.
13 It is believed that the Chinese invented gunpowder:  Chinese are believed to have invented gunpowder.
14 About 1 million papers are thought to have been sold: People think that about 1 million papers have been sold.
15 It is thought that the two injured men were repairing high-tension cable: The two injured men are thought to have been repairing high-tension cable.
16 We hope that the government has prepared a plan: The government is hoped to have prepared a plan.
17 People say that Mr Bond was having business difficulties when he was charged with fraud: Mr Bond is said to have been having business difficulties when he was charged with fraud.
18 It is thought that this treasure dates from the 19th century: This treasure is thought to date from the 19th century.
19 People believe that a professional thief stole the painting: It is believed that the painting was stolen by a professional thief/ a professional thief.

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  1. Juani

    Hola Patty ! Soy yo de nuevo pero esta vez por una duda real jaja
    Haciendo ejercicios de reported speech, tuve un problema en uno de ellos, es éste:

    “The film had already started when they arrived” I said → pasándolo a RS sería: I said that the film had already started when they arrived. Es así ?

    Cuando chequeo si está bien o mal, me pone eso. Yo, en esos casos, tengo duda por los verbos que están dentro de la oración (la transformada a reported speech), no sé si tengo que modificar los tiempos verbales en ese caso o los dejo como está, tal cual lo pone como respuesta correcta.
    Pregunto porque no siempre se tienen que cambiar los tiempos verbales, pero en otros casos sí. Y esa es mi duda, cuándo cambiarlos y cuándo no.
    Desde ya, gracias !

    1. patty

      Hola Juani:
      los verbos se deben cambiar de presente a pasado y de futuro a conditional. Si se da el caso, como en tu ejemplo, que la oración en estilo directo está ya en pasado, entonces no se cambia, porque no hay un pasado anterior al past perfect. Sin embargo, arrive si lo cambiarías porque está en presente, ése si lo puedes pasar a past simple.
      Saludos,
      Patty

      1. Juani

        Hola Patty:
        Entonces siempre se cambia, a menos que la oración dada ya esté en algún tiempo pasado. O entendí mal ?

        1. patty

          Eso es, pero si está en pasado simple, también pasa a past perfect. Cuando no se cambia es cuando lo tienes en past perfect, porque ya no hay otro pasado anterior.

          1. Juani

            Genial, perfecto. Y en el caso de las inversiones, es solamente hacer la inversión, verdad ? Es decir, sin necesidad de cambiar el tiempo verbal de la oración dada.

          2. patty

            Exacto! 🙂

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