I've been learning about indirect speech in German. I think I understand the concept pretty well, but I have come across an article with this paragraph (it's a translation from another language into English, sorry if there are mistakes):

There are a lot of theories about the Earth - the Earth is round, the Earth is flat, the Earth is carried on the back of four elephants... Recently, however, the flat Earth theory has been gaining popularity. Among the supporters of this concept is an Italian couple who tried to reach the "edge of the world", but got lost on the way and ended up in quarantine. This was reported by the Italian newspaper La Repubblica.

I am not sure if this would be considered an indirect speech. The sentences themselves don't have a reporting verb, but the "reported" at the end of the paragraph threw me off. Should I, therefore, use Konjunktiv?

I tried to look for similar structures online and found this example, where they used "sollen":

Haushalte mit geringem Einkommen sollen im Juni einen einmaligen Heizkostenzuschuss bekommen. Das berichtete Tagesschau.de.


Could someone please explain this to me?

  • What's your translation? This is GermanSE. You can ask about German. If you want to know how indirect speech works in English, this is the wrong place.
    – Olafant
    Mar 22, 2022 at 19:30
  • 1
    I am asking about if and where one would use "indirekte Rede" in the first paragraph. It is my translation from my mother tongue that I don't think many people will know. That's why I translated it into English. Edit: I would just like to know, if in German, one would use "indirekte Rede" anywhere in it. I was thinking maybe in the sentence starting with "Among the supporters", but as it does know have a reporting verb per se, I wasn't sure if using Konjunktiv for indirekte Rede would work.
    – amoric
    Mar 22, 2022 at 19:43
  • @amoric: The fist paragraph is not in German. It is in a foreign language (it's in English which is not German). But you are here on german.stackexchange.com. So, your question is off topic here. The paragraph written in German does not contain any indirect speech. The sentence say that someone will get something ("Low-income households are set to receive a one-time heating subsidy in June.") Mar 22, 2022 at 22:18
  • 4
    I don't think the question is off-topic at all. The poster speaks English better than German and is asking the question in English. The fact that their first language is neither English or German shouldn't be a factor.
    – RDBury
    Mar 22, 2022 at 22:41
  • 1
    @HubertSchölnast I'd like to make you aware that amoric is new here. It would be more welcoming to first find out what the poster wants to know, instead of apodictically rejecting the question as off-topic. Even if that was the case, it would help to give some guidance how to turn it on-topic. But in order to do so, we need to understand the need of the OP better - by asking questions. If one enters a new community, it is hard to not find this kind of behavior repelling. Finally, the prev. comments make clear that the verdict is wrong in fact. Please give new members more benefit of the doubt. Mar 22, 2022 at 23:38

3 Answers 3


What counts as indirect speech seems to be about the same between English and German, though English and German handle it differently. (German may use the special subjunctive, Konjunktiv I, while the English special subjunctive is not used.) Though some of the statements given are "second-hand", they are not "reported speech" in the grammatical sense. For that to happen the statement and the fact that someone else made the statement have to be in the same sentence. Also, direct quotes are not considered reported speech. So reported speech will almost always involve sagen, denken, or some similar verb. The reported speech itself will be in the same sentence, either in an independent clause or in a dependent clause preceded by dass. It may seem odd that second-hand information would not considered "reported"; in the real world it is speech that someone reported. But grammatical jargon is meant to describe the structure of sentences in the simplest way possible, and sometimes that means that you can't take the definitions literally all the time.


I agree with RDBury's answer. To supplement his answer, a German sentence with reported speech may lack a reporting verb, but it has at least to be implied.

For example:

Karl beklagte sich über Walter. Dieser habe sich unangemessen verhalten.

The Konjunktiv I in the second sentence marks it as reported speech. The sentence lacks a reporting verb but there is an implied "Karl sagte," or similar which can be inferred from the first sentence.

Without the Konjunktiv I, the second sentence would not be considered reported speech.


It's perfectly possible to form reported speech without a reporting verb (and even without a verb at all) in German (but it generally isn't, be aware we're talking about exceptions). You just somehow need to make it clear a statement has been made (often with a substantivation, less often with a preposition):

Die Klage des Wirtschaftsministers, dass Subventionen nicht in Anspruch genommen worden seien, ist ungehört verpufft

Die Frage, ob die NATO sich in den Krieg einmischen solle, stellt sich hier gar nicht.

Die Behauptung, Separatisten hätten das Flugzeug abgeschossen, konnte bisher noch nicht bewiesen werden.

Continuation sentences that continue reported speech can live perfectly well without an introductory reporting verb as long as it is made clear from context this is reported speech (consider the switch to reported speech a real "switch" - As long as you don't leave the Konjunktiv in follow-up sentences, it's still clear this is reported, German Konjunktiv (as opposed to subjunctive in other languages) can live alone in sentences):

Sie sagte, sie seien erst gestern aus Berlin gekommen. Der Zug hätte extreme Verspätung gehabt. Danach seien sie nicht mehr zum Kauf einer Fahrkarte bereit gewesen. Dass der Schaffner sie deswegen ohne Fahrkarte erwischt hätte, sei also kein Wunder.

A bit different is the introduction of reported speech using prepositions: Regularly, the report is being done in indicative, but Konjuktiv is at least possible (and would thus hint to indirect speech):

Laut ukrainischen Regierungsquellen seien/sind im bisherigen Krieg über 10000 russische Soldaten getötet woden

Gemäß des Verteidigungsministeriums hat/habe eine Besprechung bisher noch nicht stattgefunden.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.