In written form the expression of something that somebody
else has said is quite easy.
John said: "The train arrives at seven in the morning."
If we want to repeat what John had said by telling somebody,
we can't do this in the same way. We have to transform
the phrases according to the following:
John said that the train arrived at seven in the morning.
The repetition of something somebody else has said is
called reported speech. In English the system of the
reported speech is very well defined and used within
the limits of its definition. You've seen in the sentences
above that the verbs are changed in their tenses (arrives
=> arrived). Let's have a look at
the German version:
She said: "I'm
eating a cake."
"Ich esse einen Kuchen."
that she was eating a cake.
dass sie einen Kuchen esse.
You see the expression of the reported speech is in
conjunctive (indicative: sie
isst; conjunctive: sie
esse). The tense (present) was not changed. So
far so good. But thanks to the difficulties with the
formation of the conjunctive things are not as easy
as they seem to be.