Verb form of reported clause

This parameter considers the verb form of indirect reported clauses. A reportative sentence contains two clauses: the reporting clause and the reported clause , each describing a distinct event. The reported clause (RepdCl), also known as an utterance complement, describes an event that is reported to have happened, while the reporting clause describes that event as being reported. Prototypically, this is expressed through the use of the verb ‘say.’ Reported clauses may be direct or indirect. If direct, the clause appears in the same grammatical form as spoken by the source; if indirect, the clause appears in a different grammatical form (such as appearing in a different person or tense).

The verb form of an indirect reported clause should be compared to the equivalent verb form in a simple (non-reported) independent clause.[1] If the two verb forms are identical, the verb form of the RepdCl is considered balanced; if they differ, it appears in a special form, also known as deranked .[2] Direct reported clauses do not show this distinction. The use of special verb forms should not be confused with tense agreement, since the latter is not used to mark reported clauses specifically.[3]

The majority of language allow only either a special form or base form, the former being the significantly less frequent option. Other languages allow both possibilities, either obligatorily and in complementary distribution (based on grammatical or logical criteria), or optionally and interchangeably.[4]


NoRepdCl: The language does not have indirect reported clauses, or there exists no difference between indirect and direct reported clauses.

RepdVBlcd: Although direct and indirect reported clauses display some differences, the verb of the reported clause appears in base form in both types.

RepdVDrkd: A special verb form is used in indirect reported clauses.[5]

When a language displays more than one strategy, multiple values can be listed. If one strategy is dominant, a slash (/) can separate the two values, with the dominant value appearing first; if neither is dominant, they are listed with an ampersand (&) separating the two. The use of parentheses indicates that use of the strategy is not obligatory.


[1] This should not be confused with the verb form of the indirect reported clause appearing in a different form than it would in a direct reported clause. For example, if the speaker reporting the event is also the subject of the clause, the direct reported clause would appear in first person, whereas it would appear in third person in its indirect equivalent. Instead, the question considered here is whether the verb form can appear in the same grammatical form in a non-reported independent clause. If the difference between the reported clause and the independent verb form is that the reported clause has a special affix or clitic, and its removal would result in the form used in an independent clause, then the two verb forms are considered to be the same, since the affix functions as a conjunction marking the structure as a reported clause.

[2] Special (deranked) verb forms refer to “demoted” verbs, which nonfinite verb forms originally derived from a verb. Examples include gerunds, converbs, and participles. Special verb forms also include finite verbs that differ from the base form in their marking of person, case, cause, mood, or aspect or in their co-occurrence with adpositions. These forms do not necessarily appear exclusively in reported clauses and often appear in other functions as well.

[3] For example, some languages do not allow use of the pluperfect (past perfect) in simple independent clauses, instead restricting it to subordinate clauses with a past-tense main clause. Since this rule applies regardless of whether the subordinate clause is part of reportative sentence, it is not relevant to this parameter.

[4] The commentary should specify whether use is obligatory or optional.

[5] This should be illustrated in the commentary with one or more examples.