Choosing a reporting form.

Which form of reporting would you use here and why?

Extract. On the phone.

Tim: How are you?
Jake: I’m really depressed.


Tim (to a friend): Jake called this morning. He’s really depressed/He says he’s really depressed.

I choose the first, or, as we were taught all our life :), He said he was really depressed.

Context is always important. Assuming that your manufactured phone conversation is supposed to represent a whole phone call, I’d still suggest adding a tad more context in order to avoid it possibly being seen as complete and utter “TEFLese”. For example, this might be a little more realistic:

On the phone.

(Tim’s phone rings.)
Tim: Hello.
Jake: Hi, Tim. It’s Jake.
Tim: Hey Jake! How are you?
Jake: I’m really depressed.
(Tim hears a click as Jake unexpectedly hangs up.)


Tim (to a friend): Jake called this morning. All he said was he was really depressed, and then he just hung up! That got me so worried that I called 911.

(The conversation would, of course, most likely continue with details about the rest of the story. )

Hi, Amy

I think that to completely eliminate the TEFL streak, it would be a good idea to substitute “down in the dumps” for “depressed”, for example.
The word “depressed”, in my opinion, is a sure hallmark of a TEFL speaker, because this word exists in many languages. Many a time I find myself wanting to use it, because it exists in my language.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t inveigh against “depressed”, I only want to extend my vocablurary beyond knowing the words, that have the exact counterparts in my native language. And I think so do most TEFL students.

Just a thought :smiley:

Hi Alex

I don’t see the use of the word “depressed” as being unrealistic. I’d say people do use that word pretty often in everyday speech. However I agree that there are other ways of saying roughly the same thing. I’d also point out that it would not be unusual if Jake did not actually say “I’m” and instead simply responded with “Really depressed.”

Other similar sorts of responses might be:

  • “(I’m) totally bummed out.” (probably more similar to “disappointed” than to “depressed”, though)
  • “(I’m) miserable.”
  • “I’m really feeling down.”
  • “I got the blues like you wouldn’t believe!”
  • “I feel like sh*t.”
  • “I feel like killing myself.” (depressed to the utmost degree)

To me “How are you” is probably more “artificial” than “depressed” in the context. There are lots of other ways to greet someone – especially in informal situations. “How are you” is simply the greeting that tends to be taught first and most often, I suppose.

I see. Is that the form you were taught in English classes?

I think that’s a good suggestion, Amy. So you believe that such decontextualised examples as the one in the thread post are of little benefit to learners, right?

I do think this example though is typical example of a conversation opener:

Jake called this morning. He’s really depressed/He says he’s really depressed.

Would you agree?

Let’s say that the call ended at “I’m depressed/down/down in the dumps, etc.” and you didn’t call 911. Would you find yourself using “All he said was he was really depressed,” or “He’s depressed/down/down in the dumps, etc.” when reporting the incident? Would you use verbs of saying or not?

I’d say it often used in contexts where the questioner is aware that the listener has not been to well of late.

Maybe Jake is a TEFL student. :wink:

I’ve not heard many Brits use “down in the dumps”, even though it is a valid form. I’d normally hear “I’m a bit down”.