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On reported speech

17 July 2012

Dear Mum,
I may have aced my Senior High School Certificate exams English paper, but it wasn’t enough to stamp my authority on the correctness of a sentence I constructed within an email I sent to a friend. When he called to verify, all I said is that “I heard it from a movie”. “Then the  movie is junk”, he said. I held on, “Hey, it is an American movie!”. I could sense from the silence that he was still not convinced. I told him I would google it.

I did. I searched for “reported messages. I didn’t find anything I didn’t know already. Then I stumblicked (stumbled + clicked) on one of the search results which led me to http://www.perfect-english-grammar.com. It gave a detailed breakdown of all the instances of reported speech. It still didn’t have the example of what I wanted. Thankfully, Seonaid the author accepted email. This is the thread.

This is what my colleague complained about:
Hello,
Dr. Boateng said to send you this.
Have a good one.

J. Budu

===============
I sent this to Seonaid

On Wed, Jul 11, 2012 at 6:19 PM, Joseph Budu <buduson@gmail.com> wrote:

Dear Sir/Madam,
I hope you are doing well.
Below is an email my supervisor asked me to send to his student .
A colleague to whom I sent a blind copy said my sentence “Dr. Boateng said to send you this.” was wrong.
Could you clarify this for us please; I did not find the needed explanation on your website.
Thanks in advance.

==================

This is her reply

On 11 July 2012 18:15, Seonaid grammar.com> wrote:
Hi Joseph,

I think ‘Dr. Boateng said to send you this’ is perfectly correct! There are more polite ways of expressing the same meaning, but this depends on the situation and on your relationship with the people involved. Grammatically, there is nothing wrong with your sentence.
 
Best wishes,

Seonaid

========================
I was stunned… I nearly screamed… but I wasn’t happy the statement wasn’t polite so I asked about the more polite ways, and whether I could quote her in this post.

On Thu, Jul 12, 2012 at 8:25 AM, Joseph Budu <buduson@gmail.com> wrote:
OmG Seonaid,
Thanks a million for your quick reply.
Further, I would be glad if you could educate me on those polite ways of expressing that meaning.
Thanks a million.

PS: I would like to make a blog post about this, may I quote you and your website?

===============================

What Seonaid said:

Seonaid seonaid@perfect-english-grammar.com
to me

Hi Joseph,
Sure! More politely, you could say something like:

 Dr. Boateng asked me to send you this.
Dr. Boateng asked me to pass this along to you.
Dr. Boateng said that you’d like a copy of this.
etc.
 
I think it’s the ‘said + to + infinitive’ that makes it sound a little bit less polite, as if the person writing didn’t want to send the email, but only did so because he was told to.
 
Feel free to quote me! I’d love to see the blog post when it’s up!
 
Best wishes, and hope this helps,

Seonaid
_______________________________
Mum, I thought that you would be happy to see me next weekend…till then have a good one.
Your son, Kweku

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4 Comments
  1. verily, verily I say unto you – be polite or the polite police will get you

    • and woe betides you
      it won’t be easy on you

  2. it is all very subtle isn’t it

    • verily, verily!

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