Indirect speech in less formal language


Whereas the formation of the reported speech in formal writing is to a certain degree standardised, the rules or conventions for the spoken language and less formal writing are much less strict. Although it is always grammatically correct to use the Konjunktiv I form in order to report what somebody has said, its use is often perceived as stilted and old fashioned. The following alternatives are possible in contemporary German:

• dass + indicative → Sie sagte, dass sie zur Party kommt.
• the indicative → Sie sagte, sie kommt zur Party.
• würden + infinitive → Sie sagte, sie würde zur Party kommen.
• Konjunktiv II → Sie sagte, sie käme zur Party.
• dass + Konjunktiv II → Sie sagte, dass sie zur Party käme.

Learning tip: Although in general the use of the Konjunktiv forms are decreasing in contemporary German, they are still widely used in the media. Being able to identify the various ways of indirect speech will make it much easier to understand German newspaper articles and other news reports.