I came across this sentence in a high school grammar book. What should be the correct Indirect form of this sentence ?

“So help me, Heaven!” he cried, “I will never steal again.”

According to me it should be

He urged the Heaven to help him and swore to never steal again.


Urging the Heaven to help him, he swore to never steal again.


He pleaded the Heaven to help him and swore to never steal again.

I am really confused. Please tell what should be the correct answer.

P.S : The book has mentioned this as the correct answer, but I am not at all convinced.

He called upon Heaven to witness his resolve never to steal again.

And why can I not use the typical indirect exclamatory sentence construct "He exclaimed with sorrow..." here ?

  • "So help me" is an idiomatic exclamation and is not [or no longer] actually asking for help at all. (Also, please don't use the grammar tag unless you are actually asking about grammar. We have far more specific tags for most questions.) – Andrew Leach Sep 18 '17 at 9:06
  • Oh. So, is this statement correct then ? He called upon Heaven and swore to never steal again – Swasti Gupta Sep 18 '17 at 9:09
  • And sorry for the incorrect tag. Will keep it in mind ! :) – Swasti Gupta Sep 18 '17 at 9:11
  • "With Heaven's help,” he cried, “I will never steal again!” is a fairly close paraphrase. In indirect speech, << He cried that with Heaven's help he would never steal again. >> ('Heaven' is a metonym for God.) – Edwin Ashworth Sep 18 '17 at 9:12
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    There is no "correct answer". You have to paraphrase the first part "So help me, Heaven", and there are multiple ways to do it. One excellent way is your third attempt, if you fix some small grammar mistakes. "He pleaded with Heaven to help him and swore to never steal again." – Peter Shor Sep 18 '17 at 11:20

The problem is that you're talking about THE heaven. No such thing. You can talk about "the heavens" in general but not about a particular heaven because there is no such thing as "the" heaven, singular. When you say "heaven" in particular, you're usually referring to the sky itself. But when someone calls to "Heaven", such as "Heaven help me" what they're doing is imploring God for help. That's why the answer has a capital "H". You can also implore everyone else who is in Heaven for help. (Angels, for example.) It's not a grammatical question, it's theological.

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  • If it's a theological question rather than a grammatical one, giving an 'answer' on ELU is inappropriate. – Edwin Ashworth Sep 21 '17 at 13:39
  • Well, Edwin, the "question" was posed on ELU, so I answered it there. And you yourself said that Heaven is a metonym for God. So if Swasti will replace the word "Heaven" for "God" in any of his proposed sentences, the proper usage will be clear to him. – Lady Mondegreen Sep 23 '17 at 2:46
  • But OP opens with 'I came across this sentence in a high school grammar book. What should be the correct Indirect form of this sentence?' OP is after help with a conversion to indirect speech from direct speech; their question concerns a grammar rather than a spiritual exercise. The point is that interjections, implorations, and imprecations aren't rendered easily into indirect speech. << 'Long live the Queen!' they shouted >> becomes something distantly related like << They enthusiastically wished long life on the Queen >>. // Notice that I only responded with a 'comment'. – Edwin Ashworth Sep 23 '17 at 9:09
  • I agree completely with Peter Schor that "there is no correct answer". There are multiple ways to rephrase this indirectly. But if the word "the" is removed from the proposed sentences, they would be correct. However, "urging" is not as appropriate in this case as "pleading". So the word WITH would have to be inserted--"He pleaded with Heaven"--Lady Mondegreen – Lady Mondegreen Sep 25 '17 at 3:06

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