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Reported Speech

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Click here for a list of reported speech exercises. Click here to download this explanation in PDF.

Reported Statements

When do we use reported speech? Sometimes someone says a sentence, for example "I'm going to the cinema tonight". Later, maybe we want to tell someone else what the first person said.

Here's how it works:

We use a 'reporting verb' like 'say' or 'tell'. ( Click here for more about using 'say' and 'tell' .) If this verb is in the present tense, it's easy. We just put 'she says' and then the sentence:

  • Direct speech: I like ice cream.
  • Reported speech: She says (that) she likes ice cream.

We don't need to change the tense, though probably we do need to change the 'person' from 'I' to 'she', for example. We also may need to change words like 'my' and 'your'. (As I'm sure you know, often, we can choose if we want to use 'that' or not in English. I've put it in brackets () to show that it's optional. It's exactly the same if you use 'that' or if you don't use 'that'.)

But , if the reporting verb is in the past tense, then usually we change the tenses in the reported speech:

  • Reported speech: She said (that) she liked ice cream.

* doesn't change.

Occasionally, we don't need to change the present tense into the past if the information in direct speech is still true (but this is only for things which are general facts, and even then usually we like to change the tense):

  • Direct speech: The sky is blue.
  • Reported speech: She said (that) the sky is/was blue.

Click here for a mixed tense exercise about practise reported statements. Click here for a list of all the reported speech exercises.

Reported Questions

So now you have no problem with making reported speech from positive and negative sentences. But how about questions?

  • Direct speech: Where do you live?
  • Reported speech: She asked me where I lived.
  • Direct speech: Where is Julie?
  • Reported speech: She asked me where Julie was.

Here are some more examples:

  • Direct speech: Do you like chocolate?
  • Reported speech: She asked me if I liked chocolate.

Click here to practise reported 'wh' questions. Click here to practise reported 'yes / no' questions. Reported Requests

There's more! What if someone asks you to do something (in a polite way)? For example:

  • Direct speech: Close the window, please
  • Or: Could you close the window please?
  • Or: Would you mind closing the window please?

All of these requests mean the same thing, so we don't need to report every word when we tell another person about it. We simply use 'ask me + to + infinitive' :

  • Reported speech: She asked me to close the window.

Here are a few more examples:

To report a negative request, use 'not':

  • Direct speech: Please don't be late.
  • Reported speech: She asked us not to be late.

Reported Orders

And finally, how about if someone doesn't ask so politely? We can call this an 'order' in English, when someone tells you very directly to do something. For example:

  • Direct speech: Sit down!

In fact, we make this into reported speech in the same way as a request. We just use 'tell' instead of 'ask':

  • Reported speech: She told me to sit down.
  • Click here for an exercise to practise reported requests and orders.

Time Expressions with Reported Speech Sometimes when we change direct speech into reported speech we have to change time expressions too. We don't always have to do this, however. It depends on when we heard the direct speech and when we say the reported speech. For example: It's Monday. Julie says "I'm leaving today ". If I tell someone on Monday, I say "Julie said she was leaving today ". If I tell someone on Tuesday, I say "Julie said she was leaving yesterday ". If I tell someone on Wednesday, I say "Julie said she was leaving on Monday ". If I tell someone a month later, I say "Julie said she was leaving that day ". So, there's no easy conversion. You really have to think about when the direct speech was said. Here's a table of some possible conversions:

  • Click here for an exercise about using 'say' and 'tell'.
  • Click here for a list of all the reported speech exercises.

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  • English Grammar
  • Reported Speech

Reported Speech - Definition, Rules and Usage with Examples

Reported speech or indirect speech is the form of speech used to convey what was said by someone at some point of time. This article will help you with all that you need to know about reported speech, its meaning, definition, how and when to use them along with examples. Furthermore, try out the practice questions given to check how far you have understood the topic.

form reported speech

Table of Contents

Definition of reported speech, rules to be followed when using reported speech, table 1 – change of pronouns, table 2 – change of adverbs of place and adverbs of time, table 3 – change of tense, table 4 – change of modal verbs, tips to practise reported speech, examples of reported speech, check your understanding of reported speech, frequently asked questions on reported speech in english, what is reported speech.

Reported speech is the form in which one can convey a message said by oneself or someone else, mostly in the past. It can also be said to be the third person view of what someone has said. In this form of speech, you need not use quotation marks as you are not quoting the exact words spoken by the speaker, but just conveying the message.

Now, take a look at the following dictionary definitions for a clearer idea of what it is.

Reported speech, according to the Oxford Learner’s Dictionary, is defined as “a report of what somebody has said that does not use their exact words.” The Collins Dictionary defines reported speech as “speech which tells you what someone said, but does not use the person’s actual words.” According to the Cambridge Dictionary, reported speech is defined as “the act of reporting something that was said, but not using exactly the same words.” The Macmillan Dictionary defines reported speech as “the words that you use to report what someone else has said.”

Reported speech is a little different from direct speech . As it has been discussed already, reported speech is used to tell what someone said and does not use the exact words of the speaker. Take a look at the following rules so that you can make use of reported speech effectively.

  • The first thing you have to keep in mind is that you need not use any quotation marks as you are not using the exact words of the speaker.
  • You can use the following formula to construct a sentence in the reported speech.
  • You can use verbs like said, asked, requested, ordered, complained, exclaimed, screamed, told, etc. If you are just reporting a declarative sentence , you can use verbs like told, said, etc. followed by ‘that’ and end the sentence with a full stop . When you are reporting interrogative sentences, you can use the verbs – enquired, inquired, asked, etc. and remove the question mark . In case you are reporting imperative sentences , you can use verbs like requested, commanded, pleaded, ordered, etc. If you are reporting exclamatory sentences , you can use the verb exclaimed and remove the exclamation mark . Remember that the structure of the sentences also changes accordingly.
  • Furthermore, keep in mind that the sentence structure , tense , pronouns , modal verbs , some specific adverbs of place and adverbs of time change when a sentence is transformed into indirect/reported speech.

Transforming Direct Speech into Reported Speech

As discussed earlier, when transforming a sentence from direct speech into reported speech, you will have to change the pronouns, tense and adverbs of time and place used by the speaker. Let us look at the following tables to see how they work.

Here are some tips you can follow to become a pro in using reported speech.

  • Select a play, a drama or a short story with dialogues and try transforming the sentences in direct speech into reported speech.
  • Write about an incident or speak about a day in your life using reported speech.
  • Develop a story by following prompts or on your own using reported speech.

Given below are a few examples to show you how reported speech can be written. Check them out.

  • Santana said that she would be auditioning for the lead role in Funny Girl.
  • Blaine requested us to help him with the algebraic equations.
  • Karishma asked me if I knew where her car keys were.
  • The judges announced that the Warblers were the winners of the annual acapella competition.
  • Binsha assured that she would reach Bangalore by 8 p.m.
  • Kumar said that he had gone to the doctor the previous day.
  • Lakshmi asked Teena if she would accompany her to the railway station.
  • Jibin told me that he would help me out after lunch.
  • The police ordered everyone to leave from the bus stop immediately.
  • Rahul said that he was drawing a caricature.

Transform the following sentences into reported speech by making the necessary changes.

1. Rachel said, “I have an interview tomorrow.”

2. Mahesh said, “What is he doing?”

3. Sherly said, “My daughter is playing the lead role in the skit.”

4. Dinesh said, “It is a wonderful movie!”

5. Suresh said, “My son is getting married next month.”

6. Preetha said, “Can you please help me with the invitations?”

7. Anna said, “I look forward to meeting you.”

8. The teacher said, “Make sure you complete the homework before tomorrow.”

9. Sylvester said, “I am not going to cry anymore.”

10. Jade said, “My sister is moving to Los Angeles.”

Now, find out if you have answered all of them correctly.

1. Rachel said that she had an interview the next day.

2. Mahesh asked what he was doing.

3. Sherly said that her daughter was playing the lead role in the skit.

4. Dinesh exclaimed that it was a wonderful movie.

5. Suresh said that his son was getting married the following month.

6. Preetha asked if I could help her with the invitations.

7. Anna said that she looked forward to meeting me.

8. The teacher told us to make sure we completed the homework before the next day.

9. Sylvester said that he was not going to cry anymore.

10. Jade said that his sister was moving to Los Angeles.

What is reported speech?

What is the definition of reported speech.

Reported speech, according to the Oxford Learner’s Dictionary, is defined as “a report of what somebody has said that does not use their exact words.” The Collins Dictionary defines reported speech as “speech which tells you what someone said, but does not use the person’s actual words.” According to the Cambridge Dictionary, reported speech is defined as “the act of reporting something that was said, but not using exactly the same words.” The Macmillan Dictionary defines reported speech as “the words that you use to report what someone else has said.”

What is the formula of reported speech?

You can use the following formula to construct a sentence in the reported speech. Subject said that (report whatever the speaker said)

Give some examples of reported speech.

Given below are a few examples to show you how reported speech can be written.

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Reported Speech: Important Grammar Rules and Examples

Reported speech is a very common thing in the English language. We do it almost every day, in conversation and in writing. The problem is, sometimes there can be some confusion around the topic. So today we’ll take a look at reported speech: what it is, how to use it, and we’ll give some interactive exercises of reported speech too, so you can see how it looks in everyday conversations or writing.

Table of Contents

Reported Speech

When we use reported speech, we are referring to something that was said either by ourselves or by someone else in the past. An example of this might be ‘he said that he was going shopping. This type of speech is used very frequently during both spoken and written examples of English and it is an important part of the language which any English student will find useful to learn. In this section, we are going to look at types of reported speech as well as how we can use it.

What is Reported Speech?

Reported speech is simply when we tell somebody what someone else said. You can do this in your writing, or in speech. Reported speech is very different from direct speech , which is when you show what somebody said  in the exact way that they said it . In reported speech though, you do not need to quote somebody directly.

Instead, we use a reporting verb, such as ‘say’ or ‘ask’. These reporting verbs are used to report the speech to someone else. There are many different reporting verbs that can be used, and we’ll try to use different ones throughout this article to show you some examples, but you can always do some research too if you want to learn more examples for yourself.

In short, reported speech is the linguistic technique that we use to tell somebody what someone else’s  direct speech  was. In reported speech though, you may need to make certain changes to the grammar to make the sentence make sense. So, we’ll look at some grammar change examples below and highlight what needs to be changed.

Reported Speech Examples

When we use reported speech, we are usually talking  about the past (because obviously, the person who spoke originally spoke in the past). The verbs therefore usually have to be in the past too.

For example :

  • Direct speech: I’ve lost my umbrella .
  • Reported speech: He said (that) he had lost his umbrella.

Reported Speech Rules

When changing from direct to indirect speech, you need to change the grammar in certain ways. In this section, we are going to be looking a little more closely at direct and indirect speech and how they are used. 

Verb Tense Changes in Reported Speech

If the reporting verb is in the present tense, then very little needs to be done to the direct speech sentence to change it. Here’s an example.

  • Direct speech:  I like dogs.
  • Reported speech:  She  says  she likes dogs.

Here nothing really needed to be changed except the pronoun, because you are now talking about somebody else, so ‘I’ becomes ‘She’ or ‘He’. The tense is still the same because ‘says’ is the present tense version of the reporting verb. But what happens if the sentence needs to be changed to past tense?

Sometimes it is necessary to change the reporting verb into the past tense if what was said is no longer relevant, or was said sometime in the past. Here are the changes that would need to be made.

  • Reported speech:  She  said  she  liked  dogs.

As well as changing the pronouns here, we’ve had to change the tense of both the reporting verb and the verb. So, ‘says’ becomes ‘said’ and ‘like’ becomes ‘liked’.

Direct and indirect speech

Reported Speech

When the reporting verb is in the past tense, verb tense forms usually need to change. The tenses generally move backward in this way:

  • Present Simple Tense into Past Simple Tense
  • Present Continuous Tense into Past Continuous Tense
  • Present Perfect Tense into Past Perfect Tense
  • Past Simple Tense into Past Perfect Tense
  • Past Continuous Tense into Past Perfect Continuous Tense
  • Past Perfect Tense (the tense remains unchanged)

If somebody is talking about what will happen in the future then, again, you will need to change the tense of the reporting verb.

  • Direct speech:  I shall leave in a moment.
  • Reported speech:  She said that she would leave in a moment.

Notice how ‘shall’ and “will” become ‘would’ here in order for it to make sense.

  • Will into Would
  • Will be into Would be
  • Will have into Would have
  • Will have been into Would have been

Modal verbs actually have a very interesting relationship with reported speech, so we’ll look at that below too.

Modal Verbs and Reported Speech

We’ve already covered modal verbs in another article, but it’s interesting to see how they are changed in reported speech.

  • Can into Could
  • Could (The verb remains unchanged)
  • Have to into Had to
  • Must into Must/Had to
  • May into Might
  • Might (The verb remains unchanged)
  • Should (The verb remains unchanged)

Let’s take a look at some examples.

  • Direct speech:  Will I see you later?
  • Reported speech:  He asked if he  would  see me later.

In the direct speech example you can see the modal verb ‘will’ being used to ask a question. Notice how in reported speech the modal verb ‘will’ and the reporting verb ‘ask’ are both written in the past tense. So, ‘will’ becomes ‘would’ and ‘ask’ becomes ‘asked’. It’s important in reported speech to make sure that each part of the sentence is in the same tense.

Sometimes though, modal verbs do not need to change tense because they already read correctly. Here’s an example.

  • Direct speech:  I should go to the park.
  • Reported speech:  He told me he  should  go to the park.

Notice that nothing needed to be changed here to fit the past tense reporting verb ‘told’. ‘Should’ does not need to be changed grammatically for either sentence to make sense. But you will notice that because we decided to use the reporting verb ‘told’ instead of ‘said’, we had to include the pronoun ‘me’ for it to make sense.

  • Reported speech:  He told  me  he should go to the park.
  • Reported speech:  He said he should go to the park.

Both of these sentences make grammatical sense, because we added the pronoun ‘me’ after ‘told’ in the first sentence, but we didn’t after ‘said’ in the second one. Here is the  incorrect  versions so you can see why it doesn’t work grammatically:

  • Incorrect reported speech:  He told he should go to the park.
  • Incorrect reported speech:  He said me he should go to the park.

In order to make the top one make sense, we need to add ‘me’ like we did in the correct examples above. In order to make the second one make sense, we would either have to remove ‘me’ like we did in the correct one above,  or  we would have to add  another  word. So that it looked like this.

  • Reported speech:  He said  to  me he should go to the park.

The above sentence makes sense, but sometimes you have to watch your wording of certain things to make sure that you aren’t over-speaking/writing. This can be a problem if you are trying to get your point across quickly. You should always choose the option that is quickest to say/write because it sounds/looks better and you run less risk of making a grammatical mistake.

This guide could not possibly be extensive, because there are many grammar rules that need to be followed when reporting speech, but they vary wildly. The take-home message should really be that when reporting speech, it is important to think carefully about what you are going to say or write, so you know it makes sense. Hopefully, this guide served as a good starting point though, so you can identify reported speech now, and start to think about which grammar rules are applied.

Direct and Indirect Speech

Changes in time and place in reported speech.

Time and place references often have to change in Indirect Speech

  • Now –> Then
  • Today –> That day
  • Here –> There
  • This –> That
  • Tomorrow –> The following day/ The next day/ The day after
  • Next week –> The following week/ The next week/ The week after
  • Yesterday –> The previous day/ The day before
  • Last week –> The previous week/ The week before
  • Ago –> Previously/ Before
  • Tonight –> That night

Changes in Time and Place in Reported Speech | Image

Changes in Time and Place in Reported Speech

No Change in Verb Tenses in Reported Speech

There is no change in verb tenses in Indirect Speech when:

  • The introductory verb is in the Present, Present Perfect or Future .
  • If the reported sentence deals with a fact or general truth .
  • The reported sentence contains a time clause .
  • The verb of the sentence is in the unreal past (the second or the third conditional ).
  • The subjunctive stays unchanged in the subordinate clause .
  • Had better , could , would , used to , should , might , ought to and mustn’t remain unchanged.
  • If the speaker reports something immediately or soon after it was said .

No Change in Verb Tenses in Reported Speech | Image

No Change in Verb Tenses in Reported Speech

Reporting Verbs in Indirect Speech

List of reporting verbs in reported speech.

  • Tell, say, ask.
  • Verb + that + clause : complain, deny, explain, exclaim, remark, promise, boast, inform somebody, claim, agree, suggest.
  • Verb + to + infinitive : agree, offer, refuse, demand, threaten, promise, claim.
  • Verb + indirect object + to + infinitive : advise, allow, beg, command, encourage, forbid, invite, want, instruct, permit, urge, order, remind, warn.
  • Verb + “ing” form : admit (to), accuse somebody of, apologize for, boast about/ of, complain to somebody of, deny, insist on, suggest.
  • Verb + how : explain to somebody.

Introductory Verbs in Indirect Speech | Image 1

Introductory Verbs in Reported Speech

Introductory Verbs in Indirect Speech | Image 2

Introductory Verbs in Reported Speech

Changes of Pronouns in Reported Speech

In indirect speech, you need to be careful with personal pronouns. They need to be changed according to the situation. You need to know the context.

Changes of Pronouns in Indirect Speech | Image

Changes of Pronouns in Reported Speech

Reported Questions in English

When you are changing a question from direct speech into indirect speech, you follow the same kinds of rules as for statements.

To report a question , we use verbs such as inquire, wonder, want to know, ask…

Reported Questions in English | Image

Reported Questions in English

Reported Commands and Requests in English

Reported Orders, Commands, and Requests are formed using the to-infinitive and not to-infinitive.

The reporting verbs for the orders/ commands/ requests are order, shout, demand, warn, beg, command, tell, insist, beseech , threaten, implore, ask, propose, forbid…

When we change from direct to indirect speech, the pronoun and tense changes are also needed.

Reported Commands and Requests in English | Image

Reported Commands and Requests in English

Reported Speech Video

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72 thoughts on “Reported Speech: Important Grammar Rules and Examples”

Good evening. I am proud for the job done on reported speech. My endless thanks to the author of this task.

Turn Reported speech

Vivek :I have forgotten my pen. Rina: I have two pens. I will give you one.

John said, “I have read this book.”

John said that he had read (this) book. (* holding the same book while speaking)

In this case, this doesn’t change to that.

Please comment. Thanks.

You are correct. In this case, the word “this” does not change to “that” when reporting the statement. This is because “this” refers to a specific book that John is holding while speaking, so it remains the same when reporting the statement. If John had been referring to a book that was not present, then “this” would change to “that” when reporting the statement.

Very nicely explained…….Thank you

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Everyday Grammar: Mastering Reported Speech

Everyday Grammar: Quoted Speech

Everyday Grammar: Quoted Speech

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Everyday Grammar: You Can Master Reported Speech

Everyday Grammar: You Can Master Reported Speech

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We often need to tell others what someone else said. There are two ways to do this. One is to say the same words and use quotation marks. That is "direct speech." The other method is to summarize, or tell about what someone said. This is called "reported speech." Before we get into the rules for reporting speech, here are the terms we are using to explain it.

Rules for reporting speech

To get this kind of sentence right, there are four things you should keep in mind:

The first rule is to choose a reporting verb and tense .

When did the speech happen? With current, repeated or recent events, the reporting verb is in the present tense. "He says he is hungry, so let's go to lunch." A habitual or repeated statement is in the present tense: "Everyone says the water is safe to drink." For reporting less immediate speech, choose the past tense. The reporting verb is often said , but it can also be told , or other verbs like ordered , stated , or reported , depending on the situation. When reporting questions, you can use verbs like asked or requested .

The second rule is to change the perspective, or point of view.

That means I becomes he , she , or they .

"Mary said ' I ate the pie."' becomes "She said that she ate the pie."

"The boys said, ' We are coming tomorrow'" becomes "They said they are coming tomorrow."

Next, choose whether to include "that or "if."

You can say, "He says he is at home" or "He says that he is at home." That is a conjunction here, linking the two parts of the sentence. It is optional. Another conjunction, if , is required when reporting on a question: "He asked me if I knew how to play tennis."

The fourth rule is to "backshift" the tense.

This is the trickiest part of reported speech. When the reporting verb is in the past tense, the verb in the reported clause is in the past tense, too. The verb aspect , showing whether the action is completed, matches. Here are some examples:​

"I am buying my ticket." (present continuous) -> He said he was buying his ticket. (past continuous)

Ashley: "I have fixed my bicycle." (present perfect) -> She said she had fixed her bicycle. (past perfect)

Reporting speech in English would be easy if these rules were all learners needed to know. But as usual, there is more to learn. Let's look at what happens with questions and modals .

Reporting on questions

When we report questions, we have to pay attention to the auxiliary verb . These are words like do , be , and have . Yes or no questions begin with an auxiliary, such as

" Do you like pizza?"

To report that question, drop the auxiliary and add if :

He asked me if I liked pizza.

Learners often make the mistake of leaving the auxiliary verb in the reported speech: He asked me do I like pizza.

Information questions start with a question word:

"Where are you going?"

To report on these, simply change the pronoun and word order.

She asked me where I was going.

Here, learners often make the mistake of keeping the same word order: She asked me where was I going.

A similar word order switch appears with the verb "be" in questions.

They asked, "When is the party?" -> They asked me when the party was.

The question word "when" remains. "Be" moves from a position before the noun to after the noun.

Reporting speech with modals

Finally, pay attention to whether the speech you are reporting uses a modal verb. Will , can , and shall change to would , could , and should when reported. Will is used to make statements about the future in English. When reporting this kind of statement, will becomes would . Compare these sentences:

Kelly said, "I will pick up the sandwiches." -> Kelly said she would pick up the sandwiches.

Modal verbs may appear in questions, as well:

Caty asked, " Can you answer the phone while I'm out?" -> Caty asked me if I could answer the phone while she was out.

If the modal verb is already in its past form, it does not change when reported.

George stated, "I would not do that." -> George said he would not do that.

Test your knowledge

Let's try a few sentences. I'll say the direct speech, and you make a sentence in reported speech.

Our boss said, "You can all go home early today." -> Our boss said we could all go home early.

Anna asked "When is your birthday?" -> Anna asked me when my birthday was.

Adam said, "I am leaving on Tuesday." -> Adam said he was leaving on Tuesday.

Chris said, "I will bring the cake." -> Chris said he would bring the cake.

Reported speech in song

Reported speech sometimes shows up in popular songs. The singer Lisa Loeb begins the song "Stay" with a reported verb in the present tense to show that the action is a habit.

you say I only hear what I want to you say I talk so all the time so

Later she reports something in the past, so the reported speech verb is in the past tense.

you said that I was naive, and I thought that I was strong. I thought, "hey, I can leave, I can leave." but now I know that I was wrong, 'cause I missed you.

Follow these simple rules and you will be reporting speech like a pro.

She said that you would be reporting speech like a pro.

I'm Pete Musto.

And I'm Jill Robbins.

Dr. Jill Robbins wrote this story. Adam Brock was the editor.

________________________________________________________________

Words in This Story

report – v. to tell people about (something)

aspect – grammar : the characteristic of a verb that expresses the way an action happens

auxiliary verb – n. a verb (such as have , be , may , do , shall , will , can , or must ) that is used with another verb to show the verb's tense, to form a question, etc.

modal verb – n. a verb (such as can, could, shall, should, ought to, will, or would) that is usually used with another verb to express ideas such as possibility, necessity, and permission

Now it's your turn. Try changing these sentences into reported speech. Write your sentences in the comments section and we will give you feedback.

Trung asked, "Did you eat dinner?" Pete said, "I have been looking for a new car." Ashley says, "Come into my office."

Everyday Grammar: Put Prepositions in Their Place

Everyday Grammar: Put Prepositions in Their Place

Simple Past and Present Perfect

Simple Past and Present Perfect

Can You Correct 'Her and I?'

Can You Correct 'Her and I?'

Reported Speech in English Grammar

Direct speech, changing the tense (backshift), no change of tenses, question sentences, demands/requests, expressions with who/what/how + infinitive, typical changes of time and place.

  • Online exercises to improve your English
  • Lingolia Plus English

Introduction

In English grammar, we use reported speech to say what another person has said. We can use their exact words with quotation marks , this is known as direct speech , or we can use indirect speech . In indirect speech , we change the tense and pronouns to show that some time has passed. Indirect speech is often introduced by a reporting verb or phrase such as ones below.

Learn the rules for writing indirect speech in English with Lingolia’s simple explanation. In the exercises, you can test your grammar skills.

When turning direct speech into indirect speech, we need to pay attention to the following points:

  • changing the pronouns Example: He said, “ I saw a famous TV presenter.” He said (that) he had seen a famous TV presenter.
  • changing the information about time and place (see the table at the end of this page) Example: He said, “I saw a famous TV presenter here yesterday .” He said (that) he had seen a famous TV presenter there the day before .
  • changing the tense (backshift) Example: He said, “She was eating an ice-cream at the table where you are sitting .” He said (that) she had been eating an ice-cream at the table where I was sitting .

If the introductory clause is in the simple past (e.g. He said ), the tense has to be set back by one degree (see the table). The term for this in English is backshift .

The verbs could, should, would, might, must, needn’t, ought to, used to normally do not change.

If the introductory clause is in the simple present , however (e.g. He says ), then the tense remains unchanged, because the introductory clause already indicates that the statement is being immediately repeated (and not at a later point in time).

In some cases, however, we have to change the verb form.

When turning questions into indirect speech, we have to pay attention to the following points:

  • As in a declarative sentence, we have to change the pronouns, the time and place information, and set the tense back ( backshift ).
  • Instead of that , we use a question word. If there is no question word, we use whether / if instead. Example: She asked him, “ How often do you work?” → She asked him how often he worked. He asked me, “Do you know any famous people?” → He asked me if/whether I knew any famous people.
  • We put the subject before the verb in question sentences. (The subject goes after the auxiliary verb in normal questions.) Example: I asked him, “ Have you met any famous people before?” → I asked him if/whether he had met any famous people before.
  • We don’t use the auxiliary verb do for questions in indirect speech. Therefore, we sometimes have to conjugate the main verb (for third person singular or in the simple past ). Example: I asked him, “What do you want to tell me?” → I asked him what he wanted to tell me.
  • We put the verb directly after who or what in subject questions. Example: I asked him, “ Who is sitting here?” → I asked him who was sitting there.

We don’t just use indirect questions to report what another person has asked. We also use them to ask questions in a very polite manner.

When turning demands and requests into indirect speech, we only need to change the pronouns and the time and place information. We don’t have to pay attention to the tenses – we simply use an infinitive .

If it is a negative demand, then in indirect speech we use not + infinitive .

To express what someone should or can do in reported speech, we leave out the subject and the modal verb and instead we use the construction who/what/where/how + infinitive.

Say or Tell?

The words say and tell are not interchangeable. say = say something tell = say something to someone

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Reported speech in English

A Comprehensive Guide To Reported Speech In English

Olly Richards Headshot

There are times when someone tells you something and you’ll have to report what they said to someone else.

How can you do this in English?

You’ll need to know how to use what's called reported speech in English and this is what you’ll learn in this blog post.

What Is Reported Speech In English?

Reported speech, also known as indirect speech, is a way of retelling what someone else has said without repeating their exact words. 

For example, let’s say you have a friend called Jon and one called Mary. Mary has organised a house party and has invited you and Jon. 

Jon, however, is not feeling well. He says to you, “Sorry but I cannot come to the party. I spent all day working outside under the rain and I feel ill today.” 

A few days after the party, you meet Sarah. She’s another one of your friends and she was at the party too, but she arrived late – a moment before you left. You only had time to say hello to each other. 

She asks you, “I saw you at the party but I didn’t see Jon. Where was he?”

When Sarah asks you, “Where was Jon?” you can say, 

“Jon said, ‘Sorry but I cannot come to the party. I spent all day working outside under the rain and I feel ill today’.”

However, it would be more natural to use indirect speech in this case. So you would say, “Jon said he couldn’t come to the party. He had spent all day working outside under the rain and he felt ill that day .” 

form reported speech

Did you notice how the sentence changes in reported speech?

Here’s what happened:

  • “I” became “he”
  • “Cannot” became “couldn’t”
  • “Spent” became “had spent”
  • “I feel ill today” became “he felt ill on that day” 

Let’s take a closer look at how we form reported speech.

How To Form Reported Speech In English

To form reported speech, you might have to make a few changes to the original sentence that was spoken (or written). 

You may have to change pronouns, verb tenses, place and time expressions and, in the case of questions, the word order.

There are certain patterns to learn for reporting promises, agreements, orders, offers, requests, advice and suggestions.

Let’s have a look at all these cases one by one.

Reported Speech In English: Changing Verb Tenses

In general, when we use reported speech, the present tenses become past tenses.  

We do this because we are often reporting someone else’s words at a different time (Jon’s words were spoken 3 days before you reported them to Sarah).

Here’s an example:

Jenny (on Saturday evening) says,  “I don't like this place. I want to go home now.”(present tenses)

Matt (on Sunday morning) talks to James and says, “Jenny said that she didn't like the place, and she wanted to go home. (past tenses)

So this is how different verb tenses change:

Simple Present → Simple Past

DIRECT: I need money.

INDIRECT: She said she needed money.

Present Progressive → Past Progressive

DIRECT: My French is improving.

INDIRECT: He said his French was improving.

Present Perfect → Past Perfect

DIRECT: This has been an amazing holiday.

INDIRECT: She told me that it had been an amazing holiday.

What if there is a past simple form of the verb in direct speech? Well, in this case, it can stay the same in reported speech or you can change it to past perfect .

Past Simple → Past Simple Or Past Perfect

DIRECT: I didn’t go to work.

INDIRECT: Mary said that she didn’t go to work / Mary said that she hadn’t gone to work 

Past Perfect Tenses Do Not Change

form reported speech

DIRECT: I arrived late because I had missed the bus.

INDIRECT: He said he arrived (or had arrived) late because he had missed the bus.

Modal verbs like “can,” “may,” and “will” also change in reported speech.

Will → Would

DIRECT: The exam will be difficult.

INDIRECT: They said that the exam would be difficult.

Can → Could

DIRECT: I can’t be there.

INDIRECT: He told me he couldn’t be there.

May → Might

DIRECT: We may go there another time.

INDIRECT: They said they might go there another time.

However, past modal verbs don’t change (would, must, could, should, etc.) don’t change in reported speech.

DIRECT: It would be nice if we could go to Paris.

INDIRECT: He said it would be nice if we could go to Paris.

Here are some other examples:

So, in summary, 

  • am/is → were
  • do/does → did
  • have/has → had
  • had done → had done
  • will → would
  • can → could
  • may → might
  • could → could
  • would → would
  • like/love/buy/see → liked/loved/bought/saw or had liked/ had loved/had bought/had seen.

You make these verb tense shifts when you report the original words at a different time from when they were spoken. However, it is often also possible to keep the original speaker’s tenses when the situation is still the same.

For example, 

1. DIRECT: I am feeling sick.

   INDIRECT: She said she is feeling sick.

2. DIRECT: We have to leave now.

   INDIRECT: They said they have to leave now.

3. DIRECT: I will call you later.

   INDIRECT: He said he will call me later.

4. DIRECT: She is not coming to the party.

   INDIRECT: He said she is not coming to the party.

form reported speech

5. DIRECT: They are working on a new project.

   INDIRECT: She said they are working on a new project.

What about conditional sentences? How do they change in reported speech?

Sentences with “if” and “would” are usually unchanged.

DIRECT: It would be best if we went there early.

INDIRECT: He said it would be best if they went there early.

But conditional sentences used to describe unreal situations (e.g. second conditional or third conditional sentences) can change like this:

DIRECT: If I had more money I would buy a new car.

INDIRECT: She said if she had had more money, she would have bought a new car OR She said if she had more money, she would buy a new car.

Reported Speech In English: Changing Pronouns

In reported speech, because you’re reporting someone else’s words, there’s a change of speaker so this may mean a change of pronoun.

An example:

Jenny says,  “I don't like this place. I want to go home now.”

Matt says, “Jenny said that she didn't like the place, and she wanted to go home.” 

In this example, Jenny says “I” to refer to herself but Matt, talking about what Jenny said, uses “she”.

So the sentence in reported speech becomes:

  • Jenny said that she didn’t like . . . ( not Jenny said that I didn’t like . . .)

Some other examples:

form reported speech

1 . DIRECT: I have been studying for hours.

   INDIRECT: He said he had been studying for hours.

2. DIRECT: I don’t like that movie.

   INDIRECT: She said she didn’t like that movie.

3. DIRECT: He doesn't like coffee.

   INDIRECT: She said he doesn't like coffee.

4. DIRECT: We have a new car.

   INDIRECT: They told me they had a new car.

5. DIRECT: We are going on vacation next week.

    INDIRECT: They said they are going on vacation next week.

Reported Speech In English: Place And Time Expressions

When you’re reporting someone’s words, there is often a change of place and time.  This may mean that you will need to change or remove words that are used to refer to places and time like “here,” “this,” “now,” “today,” “next,” “last,” “yesterday,” “tomorrow,” and so on. 

Check the differences in the following sentences:

DIRECT: I'll be back next month.

INDIRECT: She said she would be back the next month , but I never saw her again.

DIRECT: Emma got her degree last Tuesday.

INDIRECT: He said Emma had got her degree the Tuesday before.

DIRECT: I had an argument with my mother-in-law yesterday .

INDIRECT: He said he’d had an argument with his mother-in-law the day before .

form reported speech

DIRECT: We're going to have an amazing party tomorrow.

INDIRECT: They said they were going to have an amazing party the next day.

DIRECT: Meet me here at 10 am.

INDIRECT: He told me to meet him there at 10 am.

DIRECT: This restaurant is really good.

INDIRECT: She said that the restaurant was really good.

DIRECT: I'm going to the gym now.

INDIRECT: He said he was going to the gym at that time.

DIRECT: Today is my birthday.

INDIRECT: She told me that it was her birthday that day .

DIRECT: I'm leaving for Europe next week.

INDIRECT: She said she was leaving for Europe the following week.

Reported Speech In English: Word Order In Questions

What if you have to report a question? For example, how would you report the following questions?

  • Where’s Mark?
  • When are you going to visit your grandmother?
  • What do I need to buy for the celebration?
  • Where are your best friend and his wife staying?
  • Do you like coffee?
  • Can you sing?
  • Who’s your best friend?
  • What time do you usually wake up?
  • What would you do if you won the lottery?
  • Do you ever read nonfiction books?

In reported questions, the subject normally comes before the verb and auxiliary “do” is not used.

So, here is what happens when you're reporting a question:

DIRECT: Where’s Mark?

INDIRECT: I asked where Mark was. 

DIRECT: When are you going to visit your grandmother?

INDIRECT: He wanted to know when I was going to visit my grandmother.

DIRECT: What do I need to buy for the celebration?

INDIRECT: She asked what she needed to buy for the celebration.

DIRECT: Where are your best friend and his wife staying?

INDIRECT: I asked where his best friend and his wife were staying.

form reported speech

DIRECT: Do you like coffee?

INDIRECT: I asked if she liked coffee.

DIRECT: Can you sing?

INDIRECT: She asked me if I could sing.

DIRECT: Who’s your best friend?

INDIRECT: They asked me who my best friend was. 

DIRECT: What time do you usually wake up?

INDIRECT: She asked me what time I usually wake up.

DIRECT: What would you do if you won the lottery?

INDIRECT: He asked me what I would do if I won the lottery.

DIRECT: Do you ever read nonfiction books?

INDIRECT: She asked me if I ever read nonfiction books.

You might have noticed that question marks are not used in reported questions and you don’t use “say” or “tell” either.

Promises, Agreements, Orders, Offers, Requests & Advice

When you’re reporting these, you can use the following verbs + an infinitive:

Here are some examples:

DIRECT SPEECH: I’ll always love you.

PROMISE IN INDIRECT SPEECH: She promised to love me.

DIRECT SPEECH: OK, let’s go to the pub.

INDIRECT SPEECH: He agreed to come to the pub with me.

form reported speech

DIRECT SPEECH: Sit down!

INDIRECT SPEECH: They told me to sit down OR they ordered me to sit down.

DIRECT SPEECH: I can go to the post office for you.

INDIRECT SPEECH: She offered to go to the post office.

DIRECT SPEECH: Could I please have the documentation by tomorrow evening?

INDIRECT SPEECH: She requested to have the documentation by the following evening.

DIRECT SPEECH: You should think twice before giving him your phone number.

INDIRECT SPEECH: She advised me to think twice before giving him my phone number.

Reported Speech In English

All right! I hope you have a much clearer idea about what reported speech is and how it’s used. 

And the good news is that both direct and indirect speech structures are commonly used in stories, so why not try the StoryLearning method ? 

You'll notice this grammatical pattern repeatedly in the context of short stories in English.

Not only will this help you acquire it naturally, but you will also have a fun learning experience by immersing yourself in an interesting and inspiring narrative.

Have a wonderful time learning through books in English !

form reported speech

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  • B1-B2 grammar

Reported speech: reporting verbs

Reported speech: reporting verbs

Do you know how to tell someone what another person said using reporting verbs? Test what you know with interactive exercises and read the explanation to help you.

Look at these examples to see how reporting verbs are used.

direct speech: 'You should come, it's going to be a lot of fun,' she said. indirect speech: She persuaded me to come. direct speech: 'Wait here,' he said. indirect speech: He told us to wait there. direct speech: 'It wasn't me who finished the coffee,' he said. indirect speech: He denied finishing the coffee.

Try this exercise to test your grammar.

Reported speech 3 – reporting verbs: 1

Grammar explanation

When we tell someone what another person said, we often use the verbs say , tell or ask . These are called 'reporting verbs'. However, we can also use other reporting verbs. Many reporting verbs can be followed by another verb in either an infinitive or an -ing form. 

Reporting verb + infinitive

Verbs like advise , agree , challenge , claim , decide , demand , encourage , invite , offer , persuade , promise , refuse and remind can follow an infinitive pattern.

'Let's see. I'll have the risotto, please.' He decided to have the risotto. 'I'll do the report by Friday, for sure.' She promised to do the report by Friday. 'It's not a good idea to write your passwords down.' They advised us not to write our passwords down.

We can also use an infinitive to report imperatives, with a reporting verb like tell , order , instruct , direct or warn .

'Please wait for me in reception.' The guide told us to wait for her in reception. 'Don't go in there!' The police officer warned us not to go in there.

Reporting verb + -ing form

Verbs like admit , apologise for , complain about , deny , insist on , mention and suggest can follow an -ing form pattern.

'I broke the window.' She admitted breaking the window. 'I'm really sorry I didn't get back to you sooner.' He apologised for not getting back to me sooner. 'Let's take a break.' She suggested taking a break.

Do this exercise to test your grammar again.

Reported speech 3 – reporting verbs: 2

Language level

Hello, i have 2 questions, firstly is the same use advise with verb + object + infinitive that use it with + gerund, it changes the meaning or no? secondly, when we use warn + object + infinitive it has the same meaning that warn somebody against?

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Hi facundo62,

For  advise , the meaning is the same with those two structures. For example:

  • I'd advise resting as much as you can.
  • I'd advise you to rest as much as you can.

However, the structure  advise  + - ing form is less commonly used than the advise + object + to + infinitive structure. 

About  warn , the two structures you mentioned do also have the same meaning. But just to be clear, it's  warn  + object + not + to  + infinitive that has that meaning. For example:

  • The doctor warned me not to eat too much.
  • The doctor warned me against eating too much.

I hope that helps.

LearnEnglish team

what is the diffrence beetween he suggested to ask andi for some ideas and he suggested asking andi for ideas

"He suggested to ask ..." is not grammatically correct. 

The verb "suggest" is followed by either:

  • an - ing  verb form -->  He suggested asking ...  OR
  • a  that  clause -->  He suggested  that we ask   ...

"Suggest" is not in the group of verbs that is followed by an infinitive ( to  + verb).

it helped alot thanks

Why can't we say "Katie suggested us going for a walk" but instead should say "KATIE SUGGESTED THAT WE GO FOR A WALK" whilst "The man warned us not to park in this street" is correct. It's unclear why "She suggested us" isn't correct but "The man warned us...." is.

Hi Paul Devening,

It's simply because different verbs have different grammatical patterns, and not all patterns are available for every verb.

That said, some verbs can be grouped together according to their meaning. For example,  warn  and some other verbs (see the page above) can be used to report imperatives, as in your parking example, by using the pattern verb + object + (not)   to  + infinitive. Suggest is not in this category because the meaning does not fit - a suggestion is not an imperative.

Hello, I am finding a comprehensive analysis for reporting "if conditionals" since I saw some exceptional rules in some books which are clashing with each other. Can someone explain this to me?

Hello Himansana,

We're happy to help you with specific questions, but I'm afraid we don't write comprehensive analyses in the comments. We are a small team with lots of other work to keep on top of!

But please do feel free to ask us specific questions about specific sentences.

All the best, Kirk LearnEnglish team

please explain direct speech. what would be answer? He has said,'' They are waiting outside."

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What is Reported Speech and how to use it? with Examples

Reported speech and indirect speech are two terms that refer to the same concept, which is the act of expressing what someone else has said. Reported speech is different from direct speech because it does not use the speaker's exact words. Instead, the reporting verb is used to introduce the reported speech, and the tense and pronouns are changed to reflect the shift in perspective. There are two main types of reported speech: statements and questions. 1. Reported Statements: In reported statements, the reporting verb is usually "said." The tense in the reported speech changes from the present simple to the past simple, and any pronouns referring to the speaker or listener are changed to reflect the shift in perspective. For example, "I am going to the store," becomes "He said that he was going to the store." 2. Reported Questions: In reported questions, the reporting verb is usually "asked." The tense in the reported speech changes from the present simple to the past simple, and the word order changes from a question to a statement. For example, "What time is it?" becomes "She asked what time it was." It's important to note that the tense shift in reported speech depends on the context and the time of the reported speech. Here are a few more examples: ●  Direct speech: "I will call you later." Reported speech: He said that he would call me later. ●  Direct speech: "Did you finish your homework?" Reported speech: She asked if I had finished my homework. ●  Direct speech: "I love pizza." Reported speech: They said that they loved pizza.

When do we use reported speech?

Reported speech is used to report what someone else has said, thought, or written. It is often used in situations where you want to relate what someone else has said without quoting them directly. Reported speech can be used in a variety of contexts, such as in news reports, academic writing, and everyday conversation. Some common situations where reported speech is used include: News reports: Journalists often use reported speech to quote what someone said in an interview or press conference. Business and professional communication: In professional settings, reported speech can be used to summarize what was discussed in a meeting or to report feedback from a customer. Conversational English: In everyday conversations, reported speech is used to relate what someone else said. For example, "She told me that she was running late." Narration: In written narratives or storytelling, reported speech can be used to convey what a character said or thought.

How to make reported speech?

1. Change the pronouns and adverbs of time and place: In reported speech, you need to change the pronouns, adverbs of time and place to reflect the new speaker or point of view. Here's an example: Direct speech: "I'm going to the store now," she said. Reported speech: She said she was going to the store then. In this example, the pronoun "I" is changed to "she" and the adverb "now" is changed to "then." 2. Change the tense: In reported speech, you usually need to change the tense of the verb to reflect the change from direct to indirect speech. Here's an example: Direct speech: "I will meet you at the park tomorrow," he said. Reported speech: He said he would meet me at the park the next day. In this example, the present tense "will" is changed to the past tense "would." 3. Change reporting verbs: In reported speech, you can use different reporting verbs such as "say," "tell," "ask," or "inquire" depending on the context of the speech. Here's an example: Direct speech: "Did you finish your homework?" she asked. Reported speech: She asked if I had finished my homework. In this example, the reporting verb "asked" is changed to "said" and "did" is changed to "had." Overall, when making reported speech, it's important to pay attention to the verb tense and the changes in pronouns, adverbs, and reporting verbs to convey the original speaker's message accurately.

How do I change the pronouns and adverbs in reported speech?

1. Changing Pronouns: In reported speech, the pronouns in the original statement must be changed to reflect the perspective of the new speaker. Generally, the first person pronouns (I, me, my, mine, we, us, our, ours) are changed according to the subject of the reporting verb, while the second and third person pronouns (you, your, yours, he, him, his, she, her, hers, it, its, they, them, their, theirs) are changed according to the object of the reporting verb. For example: Direct speech: "I love chocolate." Reported speech: She said she loved chocolate. Direct speech: "You should study harder." Reported speech: He advised me to study harder. Direct speech: "She is reading a book." Reported speech: They noticed that she was reading a book. 2. Changing Adverbs: In reported speech, the adverbs and adverbial phrases that indicate time or place may need to be changed to reflect the perspective of the new speaker. For example: Direct speech: "I'm going to the cinema tonight." Reported speech: She said she was going to the cinema that night. Direct speech: "He is here." Reported speech: She said he was there. Note that the adverb "now" usually changes to "then" or is omitted altogether in reported speech, depending on the context. It's important to keep in mind that the changes made to pronouns and adverbs in reported speech depend on the context and the perspective of the new speaker. With practice, you can become more comfortable with making these changes in reported speech.

How do I change the tense in reported speech?

In reported speech, the tense of the reported verb usually changes to reflect the change from direct to indirect speech. Here are some guidelines on how to change the tense in reported speech: Present simple in direct speech changes to past simple in reported speech. For example: Direct speech: "I like pizza." Reported speech: She said she liked pizza. Present continuous in direct speech changes to past continuous in reported speech. For example: Direct speech: "I am studying for my exam." Reported speech: He said he was studying for his exam. Present perfect in direct speech changes to past perfect in reported speech. For example: Direct speech: "I have finished my work." Reported speech: She said she had finished her work. Past simple in direct speech changes to past perfect in reported speech. For example: Direct speech: "I visited my grandparents last weekend." Reported speech: She said she had visited her grandparents the previous weekend. Will in direct speech changes to would in reported speech. For example: Direct speech: "I will help you with your project." Reported speech: He said he would help me with my project. Can in direct speech changes to could in reported speech. For example: Direct speech: "I can speak French." Reported speech: She said she could speak French. Remember that the tense changes in reported speech depend on the tense of the verb in the direct speech, and the tense you use in reported speech should match the time frame of the new speaker's perspective. With practice, you can become more comfortable with changing the tense in reported speech.

Do I always need to use a reporting verb in reported speech?

No, you do not always need to use a reporting verb in reported speech. However, using a reporting verb can help to clarify who is speaking and add more context to the reported speech. In some cases, the reported speech can be introduced by phrases such as "I heard that" or "It seems that" without using a reporting verb. For example: Direct speech: "I'm going to the cinema tonight." Reported speech with a reporting verb: She said she was going to the cinema tonight. Reported speech without a reporting verb: It seems that she's going to the cinema tonight. However, it's important to note that using a reporting verb can help to make the reported speech more formal and accurate. When using reported speech in academic writing or journalism, it's generally recommended to use a reporting verb to make the reporting more clear and credible. Some common reporting verbs include say, tell, explain, ask, suggest, and advise. For example: Direct speech: "I think we should invest in renewable energy." Reported speech with a reporting verb: She suggested that they invest in renewable energy. Overall, while using a reporting verb is not always required, it can be helpful to make the reported speech more clear and accurate.

How to use reported speech to report questions and commands?

1. Reporting Questions: When reporting questions, you need to use an introductory phrase such as "asked" or "wondered" followed by the question word (if applicable), subject, and verb. You also need to change the word order to make it a statement. Here's an example: Direct speech: "What time is the meeting?" Reported speech: She asked what time the meeting was. Note that the question mark is not used in reported speech. 2. Reporting Commands: When reporting commands, you need to use an introductory phrase such as "ordered" or "told" followed by the person, to + infinitive, and any additional information. Here's an example: Direct speech: "Clean your room!" Reported speech: She ordered me to clean my room. Note that the exclamation mark is not used in reported speech. In both cases, the tense of the reported verb should be changed accordingly. For example, present simple changes to past simple, and future changes to conditional. Here are some examples: Direct speech: "Will you go to the party with me?" Reported speech: She asked if I would go to the party with her. Direct speech: "Please bring me a glass of water." Reported speech: She requested that I bring her a glass of water. Remember that when using reported speech to report questions and commands, the introductory phrases and verb tenses are important to convey the intended meaning accurately.

How to make questions in reported speech?

To make questions in reported speech, you need to use an introductory phrase such as "asked" or "wondered" followed by the question word (if applicable), subject, and verb. You also need to change the word order to make it a statement. Here are the steps to make questions in reported speech: Identify the reporting verb: The first step is to identify the reporting verb in the sentence. Common reporting verbs used to report questions include "asked," "inquired," "wondered," and "wanted to know." Change the tense and pronouns: Next, you need to change the tense and pronouns in the sentence to reflect the shift from direct to reported speech. The tense of the verb is usually shifted back one tense (e.g. from present simple to past simple) in reported speech. The pronouns should also be changed as necessary to reflect the shift in perspective from the original speaker to the reporting speaker. Use an appropriate question word: If the original question contained a question word (e.g. who, what, where, when, why, how), you should use the same question word in the reported question. If the original question did not contain a question word, you can use "if" or "whether" to introduce the reported question. Change the word order: In reported speech, the word order of the question changes from the inverted form to a normal statement form. The subject usually comes before the verb, unless the original question started with a question word. Here are some examples of reported questions: Direct speech: "What time is the meeting?" Reported speech: She asked what time the meeting was. Direct speech: "Did you finish your homework?" Reported speech: He wanted to know if I had finished my homework. Direct speech: "Where are you going?" Reported speech: She wondered where I was going. Remember that when making questions in reported speech, the introductory phrases and verb tenses are important to convey the intended meaning accurately. Here you can find more examples of direct and indirect questions

What is the difference between reported speech an indirect speech?

In reported or indirect speech, you are retelling or reporting what someone said using your own words. The tense of the reported speech is usually shifted back one tense from the tense used in the original statement. For example, if someone said, "I am going to the store," in reported speech you would say, "He/she said that he/she was going to the store." The main difference between reported speech and indirect speech is that reported speech usually refers to spoken language, while indirect speech can refer to both spoken and written language. Additionally, indirect speech is a broader term that includes reported speech as well as other ways of expressing what someone else has said, such as paraphrasing or summarizing.

Examples of direct speech to reported

1. Direct speech: "I am hungry," she said. Reported speech: She said she was hungry. 2. Direct speech: "Can you pass the salt, please?" he asked. Reported speech: He asked her to pass the salt. 3. Direct speech: "I will meet you at the cinema," he said. Reported speech: He said he would meet her at the cinema. 4. Direct speech: "I have been working on this project for hours," she said. Reported speech: She said she had been working on the project for hours. 5. Direct speech: "What time does the train leave?" he asked. Reported speech: He asked what time the train left. 6. Direct speech: "I love playing the piano," she said. Reported speech: She said she loved playing the piano. 7. Direct speech: "I am going to the grocery store," he said. Reported speech: He said he was going to the grocery store. 8. Direct speech: "Did you finish your homework?" the teacher asked. Reported speech: The teacher asked if he had finished his homework. 9. Direct speech: "I want to go to the beach," she said. Reported speech: She said she wanted to go to the beach. 10. Direct speech: "Do you need help with that?" he asked. Reported speech: He asked if she needed help with that. 11. Direct speech: "I can't come to the party," he said. Reported speech: He said he couldn't come to the party. 12. Direct speech: "Please don't leave me," she said. Reported speech: She begged him not to leave her. 13. Direct speech: "I have never been to London before," he said. Reported speech: He said he had never been to London before. 14. Direct speech: "Where did you put my phone?" she asked. Reported speech: She asked where she had put her phone. 15. Direct speech: "I'm sorry for being late," he said. Reported speech: He apologized for being late. 16. Direct speech: "I need some help with this math problem," she said. Reported speech: She said she needed some help with the math problem. 17. Direct speech: "I am going to study abroad next year," he said. Reported speech: He said he was going to study abroad the following year. 18. Direct speech: "Can you give me a ride to the airport?" she asked. Reported speech: She asked him to give her a ride to the airport. 19. Direct speech: "I don't know how to fix this," he said. Reported speech: He said he didn't know how to fix it. 20. Direct speech: "I hate it when it rains," she said. Reported speech: She said she hated it when it rained.

What is Direct and Indirect Speech?

Direct and indirect speech are two different ways of reporting spoken or written language. Let's delve into the details and provide some examples. Click here to read more

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Reported speech: indirect speech

Indirect speech focuses more on the content of what someone said rather than their exact words. In indirect speech , the structure of the reported clause depends on whether the speaker is reporting a statement, a question or a command.

Indirect speech: reporting statements

Indirect reports of statements consist of a reporting clause and a that -clause. We often omit that , especially in informal situations:

The pilot commented that the weather had been extremely bad as the plane came in to land. (The pilot’s words were: ‘The weather was extremely bad as the plane came in to land.’ )
I told my wife I didn’t want a party on my 50th birthday. ( that -clause without that ) (or I told my wife that I didn’t want a party on my 50th birthday .)

Indirect speech: reporting questions

Reporting yes-no questions and alternative questions.

Indirect reports of yes-no questions and questions with or consist of a reporting clause and a reported clause introduced by if or whether . If is more common than whether . The reported clause is in statement form (subject + verb), not question form:

She asked if [S] [V] I was Scottish. (original yes-no question: ‘Are you Scottish?’ )
The waiter asked whether [S] we [V] wanted a table near the window. (original yes-no question: ‘Do you want a table near the window? )
He asked me if [S] [V] I had come by train or by bus. (original alternative question: ‘Did you come by train or by bus?’ )

Questions: yes-no questions ( Are you feeling cold? )

Reporting wh -questions

Indirect reports of wh -questions consist of a reporting clause, and a reported clause beginning with a wh -word ( who, what, when, where, why, how ). We don’t use a question mark:

He asked me what I wanted.
Not: He asked me what I wanted?

The reported clause is in statement form (subject + verb), not question form:

She wanted to know who [S] we [V] had invited to the party.
Not: … who had we invited …

Who , whom and what

In indirect questions with who, whom and what , the wh- word may be the subject or the object of the reported clause:

I asked them who came to meet them at the airport. ( who is the subject of came ; original question: ‘Who came to meet you at the airport?’ )
He wondered what the repairs would cost. ( what is the object of cost ; original question: ‘What will the repairs cost?’ )
She asked us what [S] we [V] were doing . (original question: ‘What are you doing?’ )
Not: She asked us what were we doing?

When , where , why and how

We also use statement word order (subject + verb) with when , where, why and how :

I asked her when [S] it [V] had happened (original question: ‘When did it happen?’ ).
Not: I asked her when had it happened?
I asked her where [S] the bus station [V] was . (original question: ‘Where is the bus station?’ )
Not: I asked her where was the bus station?
The teacher asked them how [S] they [V] wanted to do the activity . (original question: ‘How do you want to do the activity?’ )
Not: The teacher asked them how did they want to do the activity?

Questions: wh- questions

Indirect speech: reporting commands

Indirect reports of commands consist of a reporting clause, and a reported clause beginning with a to -infinitive:

The General ordered the troops to advance . (original command: ‘Advance!’ )
The chairperson told him to sit down and to stop interrupting . (original command: ‘Sit down and stop interrupting!’ )

We also use a to -infinitive clause in indirect reports with other verbs that mean wanting or getting people to do something, for example, advise, encourage, warn :

They advised me to wait till the following day. (original statement: ‘You should wait till the following day.’ )
The guard warned us not to enter the area. (original statement: ‘You must not enter the area.’ )

Verbs followed by a to -infinitive

Indirect speech: present simple reporting verb

We can use the reporting verb in the present simple in indirect speech if the original words are still true or relevant at the time of reporting, or if the report is of something someone often says or repeats:

Sheila says they’re closing the motorway tomorrow for repairs.
Henry tells me he’s thinking of getting married next year.
Rupert says dogs shouldn’t be allowed on the beach. (Rupert probably often repeats this statement.)

Newspaper headlines

We often use the present simple in newspaper headlines. It makes the reported speech more dramatic:

JUDGE TELLS REPORTER TO LEAVE COURTROOM
PRIME MINISTER SAYS FAMILIES ARE TOP PRIORITY IN TAX REFORM

Present simple ( I work )

Reported speech

Reported speech: direct speech

Indirect speech: past continuous reporting verb

In indirect speech, we can use the past continuous form of the reporting verb (usually say or tell ). This happens mostly in conversation, when the speaker wants to focus on the content of the report, usually because it is interesting news or important information, or because it is a new topic in the conversation:

Rory was telling me the big cinema in James Street is going to close down. Is that true?
Alex was saying that book sales have gone up a lot this year thanks to the Internet.

‘Backshift’ refers to the changes we make to the original verbs in indirect speech because time has passed between the moment of speaking and the time of the report.

In these examples, the present ( am ) has become the past ( was ), the future ( will ) has become the future-in-the-past ( would ) and the past ( happened ) has become the past perfect ( had happened ). The tenses have ‘shifted’ or ‘moved back’ in time.

The past perfect does not shift back; it stays the same:

Modal verbs

Some, but not all, modal verbs ‘shift back’ in time and change in indirect speech.

We can use a perfect form with have + - ed form after modal verbs, especially where the report looks back to a hypothetical event in the past:

He said the noise might have been the postman delivering letters. (original statement: ‘The noise might be the postman delivering letters.’ )
He said he would have helped us if we’d needed a volunteer. (original statement: ‘I’ll help you if you need a volunteer’ or ‘I’d help you if you needed a volunteer.’ )

Used to and ought to do not change in indirect speech:

She said she used to live in Oxford. (original statement: ‘I used to live in Oxford.’ )
The guard warned us that we ought to leave immediately. (original statement: ‘You ought to leave immediately.’ )

No backshift

We don’t need to change the tense in indirect speech if what a person said is still true or relevant or has not happened yet. This often happens when someone talks about the future, or when someone uses the present simple, present continuous or present perfect in their original words:

He told me his brother works for an Italian company. (It is still true that his brother works for an Italian company.)
She said she ’s getting married next year. (For the speakers, the time at the moment of speaking is ‘this year’.)
He said he ’s finished painting the door. (He probably said it just a short time ago.)
She promised she ’ll help us. (The promise applies to the future.)

Indirect speech: changes to pronouns

Changes to personal pronouns in indirect reports depend on whether the person reporting the speech and the person(s) who said the original words are the same or different.

Indirect speech: changes to adverbs and demonstratives

We often change demonstratives ( this, that ) and adverbs of time and place ( now, here, today , etc.) because indirect speech happens at a later time than the original speech, and perhaps in a different place.

Typical changes to demonstratives, adverbs and adverbial expressions

Indirect speech: typical errors.

The word order in indirect reports of wh- questions is the same as statement word order (subject + verb), not question word order:

She always asks me where [S] [V] I am going .
Not: She always asks me where am I going .

We don’t use a question mark when reporting wh- questions:

I asked him what he was doing.
Not: I asked him what he was doing?

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  • B1-B2 grammar

Reported speech

Daisy has just had an interview for a summer job. 

Instructions

As you watch the video, look at the examples of reported speech. They are in  red  in the subtitles. Then read the conversation below to learn more. Finally, do the grammar exercises to check you understand, and can use, reported speech correctly.

Sophie:  Mmm, it’s so nice to be chilling out at home after all that running around.

Ollie: Oh, yeah, travelling to glamorous places for a living must be such a drag!

Ollie: Mum, you can be so childish sometimes. Hey, I wonder how Daisy’s getting on in her job interview.

Sophie: Oh, yes, she said she was having it at four o’clock, so it’ll have finished by now. That’ll be her ... yes. Hi, love. How did it go?

Daisy: Well, good I think, but I don’t really know. They said they’d phone later and let me know.

Sophie: What kind of thing did they ask you?

Daisy: They asked if I had any experience with people, so I told them about helping at the school fair and visiting old people at the home, that sort of stuff. But I think they meant work experience.

Sophie: I’m sure what you said was impressive. They can’t expect you to have had much work experience at your age.

Daisy:  And then they asked me what acting I had done, so I told them that I’d had a main part in the school play, and I showed them a bit of the video, so that was cool.

Sophie:  Great!

Daisy: Oh, and they also asked if I spoke any foreign languages.

Sophie: Languages?

Daisy: Yeah, because I might have to talk to tourists, you know.

Sophie: Oh, right, of course.

Daisy: So that was it really. They showed me the costume I’ll be wearing if I get the job. Sending it over ...

Ollie: Hey, sis, I heard that Brad Pitt started out as a giant chicken too! This could be your big break!

Daisy: Ha, ha, very funny.

Sophie: Take no notice, darling. I’m sure you’ll be a marvellous chicken.

We use reported speech when we want to tell someone what someone said. We usually use a reporting verb (e.g. say, tell, ask, etc.) and then change the tense of what was actually said in direct speech.

So, direct speech is what someone actually says? Like 'I want to know about reported speech'?

Yes, and you report it with a reporting verb.

He said he wanted to know about reported speech.

I said, I want and you changed it to he wanted .

Exactly. Verbs in the present simple change to the past simple; the present continuous changes to the past continuous; the present perfect changes to the past perfect; can changes to could ; will changes to would ; etc.

She said she was having the interview at four o’clock. (Direct speech: ' I’m having the interview at four o’clock.') They said they’d phone later and let me know. (Direct speech: ' We’ll phone later and let you know.')

OK, in that last example, you changed you to me too.

Yes, apart from changing the tense of the verb, you also have to think about changing other things, like pronouns and adverbs of time and place.

'We went yesterday.'  > She said they had been the day before. 'I’ll come tomorrow.' >  He said he’d come the next day.

I see, but what if you’re reporting something on the same day, like 'We went yesterday'?

Well, then you would leave the time reference as 'yesterday'. You have to use your common sense. For example, if someone is saying something which is true now or always, you wouldn’t change the tense.

'Dogs can’t eat chocolate.' > She said that dogs can’t eat chocolate. 'My hair grows really slowly.' >  He told me that his hair grows really slowly.

What about reporting questions?

We often use ask + if/whether , then change the tenses as with statements. In reported questions we don’t use question forms after the reporting verb.

'Do you have any experience working with people?' They asked if I had any experience working with people. 'What acting have you done?' They asked me what acting I had done .

Is there anything else I need to know about reported speech?

One thing that sometimes causes problems is imperative sentences.

You mean like 'Sit down, please' or 'Don’t go!'?

Exactly. Sentences that start with a verb in direct speech need a to + infinitive in reported speech.

She told him to be good. (Direct speech: 'Be good!') He told them not to forget. (Direct speech: 'Please don’t forget.')

OK. Can I also say 'He asked me to sit down'?

Yes. You could say 'He told me to …' or 'He asked me to …' depending on how it was said.

OK, I see. Are there any more reporting verbs?

Yes, there are lots of other reporting verbs like promise , remind , warn , advise , recommend , encourage which you can choose, depending on the situation. But say , tell and ask are the most common.

Great. I understand! My teacher said reported speech was difficult.

And I told you not to worry!

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EnglishPost.org

Reported Speech: Structures and Examples

Reported speech (Indirect Speech) is how we represent the speech of other people or what we ourselves say.

Reported Speech focuses more on the content of what someone said rather than their exact words

The structure of the independent clause depends on whether the speaker is reporting a statement, a question, or a command.

Table of Contents

Reported Speech Rules and Examples

Present tenses and reported speech, past tenses and reported speech, reported speech examples, reported speech and the simple present, reported speech and present continuous, reported speech and the simple past, reported speech and the past continuous, reported speech and the present perfect, reported speech and the past perfect, reported speech and ‘ can ’ and ‘can’t’, reported speech and ‘ will ’ and ‘ won’t ’, reported speech and could and couldn’t, reported speech and the future continuous, reported questions exercises online, interested in learning more.

To turn sentences into Indirect Speech, you have to follow a set of rules and this is what makes reported speech difficult for some.

To make reported speech sentences, you need to manage English tenses well.

  • Present Simple Tense changes into Past Simple Tense
  • Present Progressive Tense changes into Past Progressive Tense
  • Present Perfect Tense changes into Past Perfect Tense
  • Present Perfect Progressive Tense changes into Past Perfect Tense
  • Past Simple Tense changes into Past Perfect Tense
  • Past Progressive Tense changes into Perfect Continuous Tense
  • Past Perfect Tense doesn’t change
  • Past Perfect Progressive Tense doesn’t change
  • Future Simple Tense changes into would
  • Future Progressive Tense changes into “would be”
  • Future Perfect Tense changes into “would have·
  • Future Perfect Progressive Tense changes into “would have been”

These are some examples of sentences using indirect speech

The present simple tense usually changes to the past simple

The present continuous tense usually changes to the past continuous.

The past simple tense usually changes to the past perfect

The past continuous tense usually changes to the past perfect continuous.

The present perfect tense usually changes to the past perfect tense

The past perfect tense does not change

 ‘ Can ’ and ‘can’t’ in direct speech change to ‘ could ’ and ‘ couldn’t ’

‘ Will ’ and ‘ won’t ’ in direct speech change to ‘ would ’ and ‘ wouldn’t ’

Could and couldn’t doesn’t change

Will ’ and ‘ won’t ’ in direct speech change to ‘ would ’ and ‘ wouldn’t ’

These are some online exercises to learn more about reported questions

  • Present Simple Reported Yes/No Question Exercise
  • Present Simple Reported Wh Question Exercise
  • Mixed Tense Reported Question Exercise
  • Present Simple Reported Statement Exercise
  • Present Continuous Reported Statement Exercise

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Manuel Campos, English Professor

I am Jose Manuel, English professor and creator of EnglishPost.org, a blog whose mission is to share lessons for those who want to learn and improve their English

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Reported speech (indirect speech).

Table of Content

Reported Speech (Indirect Speech) What is reported speech? Direct speech vs reported speech Different types of reported speech A. Reporting statements B. Reporting Questions C. Reporting requests / commands D. Other transformations Main clauses connected with and/but The punctuation rules of the reported speech Can we omit that in the reported speech? List of reporting verbs Conclusion

What is reported speech.

Reported speech is when you tell somebody what you or another person said before. When reporting a speech, some changes are necessary.

For example, the statement:

  • Jane said she was waiting for her mom .

is a reported speech, whereas:

  • Jane said "I'm waiting for my mom."

is a direct speech.

Note: Reported speech is also referred to as indirect speech or indirect discourse .

Reported Speech

Before explaining how to report a discourse, let us first distinguish between direct speech and reported speech .

Direct speech vs reported speech

1. We use direct speech to quote a speaker's exact words. We put their words within quotation marks. We add a reporting verb such as "he said" or "she asked" before or after the quote.

  • He said, "I am happy."

2. Reported speech is a way of reporting what someone said without using quotation marks. We do not necessarily report the speaker's exact words. Some changes are necessary: the time expressions, the tense of the verbs, and the demonstratives.

  • He said that he was happy.

More examples:

Different types of reported speech

When you use reported speech, you either report:

  • Requests / commands
  • Other types

A. Reporting statements

When transforming statements, check whether you have to change:

  • place and time expression

1- Pronouns

In reported speech, you often have to change the pronoun depending on who says what.

She says, “ My dad likes roast chicken.” – She says that her dad likes roast chicken.

  • If the sentence starts in the present, there is no backshift of tenses in reported speech.
  • If the sentence starts in the past, there is often a backshift of tenses in reported speech.

No backshift

Do not change the tense if the introductory clause (i.e., the reporting verb) is in the present tense (e. g. He says ). Note, however, that you might have to change the form of the present tense verb (3rd person singular).

Example: He says, “I write poems.” – He says that he writes English.

You must change the tense if the introductory clause (i.e., the reporting verb) is in the past tense (e. g. He said ).

Example: He said, “I am happy.” – He said that he was happy.

Examples of the main changes in verb tense

3. modal verbs.

The modal verbs could, should, would, might, needn't, ought to, and used to do not normally change.

  • He said: "She might be right." – He said that she might be right.
  • He told her: "You needn't see a doctor." – He told her that she needn't see a doctor.

Other modal verbs such as can, shall, will, must ,and ma y change:

4- Place, demonstratives, and time expressions

Place, demonstratives, and time expressions change if the context of the reported statement (i.e. the location and/or the period of time) is different from that of the direct speech.

In the following table, you will find the different changes of place; demonstratives, and time expressions.

B. Reporting Questions

When transforming questions, check whether you have to change:

  • The pronouns
  • The place and time expressions
  • The tenses (backshift)

Also, note that you have to:

  • transform the question into an indirect question
  • use the question word ( where, when, what, how ) or if / whether

>> EXERCISE ON REPORTING QUESTIONS <<

C. Reporting requests / commands

When transforming requests and commands, check whether you have to change:

  • place and time expressions
  • She said, “Sit down." - She asked me to sit down.
  • She said, "don't be lazy" - She asked me not to be lazy

D. Other transformations

  • Expressions of advice with must , should, and ought are usually reported using advise / urge . Example: "You must read this book." He advised/urged me to read that book.
  • The expression let’s is usually reported using suggest . In this case, there are two possibilities for reported speech: gerund or statement with should . Example : "Let’s go to the cinema." 1. He suggested going to the cinema. 2. He suggested that we should go to the cinema.

Main clauses connected with and/but

If two complete main clauses are connected with ‚and or ‚but , put ‚that after the conjunction.

  • He said, “I saw her but she didn't see me.“ – He said that he had seen her but that she hadn't seen him.“

If the subject is dropped in the second main clause (the conjunction is followed by a verb), do not use ‚that‘ .

  • She said, “I am a nurse and work in a hospital.“ – He said that she was a nurse and worked in a hospital.“

The punctuation rules of the reported speech

Direct speech:

We normally add a comma between the reporting verbs (e.g., she/he said, reported, he replied, etc.) and the reported clause in direct speech. The original speaker's words are put between inverted commas, either single ('...') or double ("...").

  • She said, “I wasn't ready for the competition".

Note that we insert the comma within the inverted commas if the reported clause comes first:

  • “I wasn't ready for the competition,” she said.

Indirect speech:

In indirect speech, we don’t put a comma between the reporting verb and the reported clause and we omit the inverted quotes.

  • She said that she hadn't been ready for the competition.

In reported questions and exclamations, we remove the question mark and the exclamation mark.

  • She asked him why he looked sad?
  • She asked him why he looked sad.

Can we omit that in the reported speech?

Yes, we can omit that after reporting verbs such as he said , he replied , she suggested , etc.

  • He said that he could do it. - He said he could do it.
  • She replied that she was fed up with his misbehavior. - She replied she was fed up with his misbehavior.

List of reporting verbs

Reported speech requires a reporting verb such as "he said", she "replied", etc.

Here is a list of some common reporting verbs:

  • Cry (meaning shout)
  • Demonstrate
  • Hypothesize
  • Posit the view that
  • Question the view that
  • Want to know

In reported speech, we put the words of a speaker in a subordinate clause introduced by a reporting verb such as - ' he said ' and ' she asked '- with the required person and tense adjustments.

Related pages

  • Reported speech exercise (mixed)
  • Reported speech exercise (questions)
  • Reported speech exercise (requests and commands)
  • Reported speech lesson

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Time and Place in Reported Speech

When we report something, we may need to make changes to:

  • time (now, tomorrow)
  • place (here, this room)

If we report something around the same time, then we probably do not need to make any changes to time words . But if we report something at a different time, we need to change time words. Look at these example sentences:

  • He said: "It was hot yesterday ." → He said that it had been hot the day before .
  • He said: "We are going to swim tomorrow ." → He said they were going to swim the next day .

Here is a list of common time words, showing how you change them for reported speech:

Place words

If we are in the same place when we report something, then we do not need to make any changes to place words . But if we are in a different place when we report something, then we need to change the place words. Look at these example sentences:

  • He said: "It is cold in here ." → He said that it was cold in there .
  • He said: "How much is this book ?" → He asked how much the book was.

Here are some common place words, showing how you change them for reported speech:

Contributor: Josef Essberger

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Reported Speech Examples

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  • Reported Speech

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Reported Speech How does it Work?

Indirect speech or Reported speech is just a way of expressing your intent in questions, statements or other phrases, without essentially quoting them outrightly as the way it is done in indirect speech.

Reported Speech Rules

To understand Reported Speech Grammar and Reported Verbs, you need to first understand reported speech rules and how it works. Here are some types of reported speech:

Reported Statements

Reported speech is used when someone says a sentence, like, "I'm going to the movie tonight". Later, we want to tell a 3rd person what the first person is doing.

It works like this:

We use a reporting verb i.e 'say' or 'tell'. In the present tense, just put in 'he says.

Direct Speech: I like burgers.

Reported Speech: He says (that) he likes burgers.

You don't need to change the tense, but you do need to switch the 'person' from 'I' to 'he’. You also need to change words like 'my' and 'your'.

But, in case the reporting verb is in the past tense, then change the tenses in the reported speech itself.

Reported Questions

Reported questions to go like 

Direct Speech: Where do you reside?

We make the change to reported speech by-

It is similar to reported statements. The tense changes are exact, and we keep the question’s word. But we need to change the grammar of that normal sentence into positive. For eg:

Reported Speech: He asked me where I resided.

The direct speech question is in the present simple tense. We make a present simple question with 'do' or 'does'. For that, I need to take that away. Then change the verb to the past simple. 

Direct Speech: Where is Jolly?

Reported Speech: He asked me where Jolly was.

The direct question is the present simple of 'be'. We change the question form of the present simple of being by changing the position of the subject and the verb. So, change them back before putting the verb into the past simple.

Here Are Some More Examples

Reported Requests

The reported speech goes a long way. What if a person asks you to do something politely or make a request? It’s called a reported request. For example

Direct Speech: Close the door, please / Could you close the door please? / Would you mind closing the door, please?

All these requests mean the same, so we don't need to report every word there when we tell a 3rd person about it. 

We can simply use 'ask me + to + infinitive':

Reported Speech: They asked me to close the door.

Direct Speech: Please be punctual.

Reported Speech: They asked us to be punctual.

Reported Orders

And lastly, how about when someone doesn't ask that politely? This is known as an 'order' in English, which is when someone tells you to do something pretty much directly. This is called a reported order. For example

Direct Speech: Stand up right now!

We make this into a reported speech in the same way as that for a request. Just use 'tell' rather than 'ask':

Reported Speech: She told me to stand up right now.

Time Expressions within the Ambit of Reported Speech

Sometimes when we want to change the direct speech into reported speech, we will have to change the time expressions too. We don't necessarily always have to do that. However, It depends on when we heard the speech in indirect form and when we said the speech in reported form. 

For Example,

It's Sunday. Kiran Ma’am says "I'm leaving today".

If You tell someone on Sunday, You will say "Kiran Ma’am said she was leaving today".

If you tell someone on Tuesday, You will say "Kiran Ma’am said she was leaving yesterday".

If you tell someone on Friday, you will say "Kiran Ma’am said she was leaving on Sunday ".

If you tell someone a month later, you will say "Kiran Ma’am said she was leaving that day".

So, technically there's no easy way to convert. You need to put in real effort and have to think about it when the direct speech is said.

Here's a Table of How Some Conversions can be Made 

now can be converted to then / at that time

today can be converted to yesterday / that day / Tuesday / the 27 th of June

yesterday can be converted to the day before yesterday / the day before / Wednesday / the 5th of December

last night can be converted to the night before, Thursday night

last week can be converted to the week before / the previous week

tomorrow can be converted to today / the next day / the following day / Friday

Now Let us Check our Understanding Through this Table

This is all about reported speech. English grammar is a tricky thing given both the rules and practice. Reading these rules solely will not help you to get a strong grasp of them. You also have to practice reported speech sentences in practical life to know how and when they can be used.

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FAQs on Reported Speech

1. How to convert present tenses to reported speech and give some examples.

There are certain rules to follow while converting sentences to reported speech. We need to manage tenses also.

Usually, the present sentences change to simple past tense.

Ex: I do yoga every morning

She said that she did yoga every morning.

I play cricket a lot

He said that he played cricket a lot 

Usually The present continuous tense changes to the past continuous tense. 

Ex: My friend is watching a movie.

She said that her friend was watching a movie.

We are eating dinner

They said that they were eating dinner.

Usually, the  Present Perfect Tense changes into Past Perfect Tense

Ex: I have been to the USA

She told me that she had been to the USA.

She has finished her task.

She said that she had finished her task.

Usually the Present Perfect Progressive Tense changes into Past Perfect Tense

2. How to convert present tenses to reported speech and give some examples.

Usually the Past Simple Tense changes into the Past Perfect Tense.

Ex: He arrived on Friday

He said that he had arrived on Friday.

My mom enjoyed the stay here

He said that his mom had enjoyed the stay there.

Usually, the Past Progressive Tense changes into the Perfect Continuous Tense

Ex: I was playing the cricket

He said that he had been playing cricket.

My husband was cooking

She said that her husband had been cooking.

Usually, the Past Perfect Tense doesn’t change.

Ex: She had worked hard.

She said that she had worked hard.

And also the Past Perfect Progressive Tense doesn’t change.

3. State the rules for conversion of future tenses into reported speech

There are rules to follow while converting the future tenses to reported speech.

In general, the Future Simple Tense changes into would. And also the future Progressive Tense changes into “would be”. The Future Perfect Tense changes into “would have”. The Future Perfect Progressive Tense changes into “would have been”.

Ex: I will be attending the wedding.

She said that she would be attending the wedding.

4. Give examples for conversion of  ‘can ‘, ‘can’t’ and ‘will’,’’won’t’ 

5. Give some examples for reported requests and reported orders.  

  • Reported Speech

Reported Speech: Whenever you are quoting someone else’s words , you use two kinds of speeches – Direct or Indirect speech . In this chapter, we will learn all about Direct and Indirect speech and how to convert one into another.

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Reported speech- how does it work.

Reported speech

Whenever you report a speech there’s a reporting verb used like “say” or “tell”. For example:

Direct speech: I love to play football .

Reported speech: She said that she loves to play football. (Note 1 : Assume a gender if not mentioned already. Note 2: Using “that” is optional. This sentence could also have been written as “She said she loves to play football.”)

The tense doesn’t have to be changed in this case of reported speech. But of the reporting verb is in the past tense , we do change the tense of the sentence.

Browse more Topics under Transformation Sentences

  • Active and Passive Voice
  • Parts of Speech
  • Types of Sentences

Reported speech- Play of the tenses:

Learn more about  Parts of Speech here in detail

This is a summary table that will be crystal clear to you as you read further. Just come back to this table after this section and use this as a summary table:

Some word transitions from direct to reported speech that will come in handy:

  • Will becomes would
  • Can becomes could
  • would stays would
  • should stays should
  • must stays must or had to(matter of choice)
  • shall becomes should

Exception : A present tense in direct speech may not become a past tense in the reported speech if it’s a fact or something generic we are talking about in the sentence. For example-

Direct speech: The sun rises from the East.

Reported speech: She said that the sun rises/rose from the East.

Reported speech- Handling questions:

What happens when the sentence we are trying to report was actually a question? That’s something we are going to deal with in this section. Reported questions- It’s quite interesting. let’s get into it:

Well the good news is that the tense change you learnt above stays the same in reported speech for questions. The only difference is that when you report a question, you no more report it in the form of a question but in the form of a statement. For example:

Direct speech: Where do you want to eat?

Reported speech: She asked me where I wanted to eat.

Notice how the question mark is gone from the reported speech. The reported speech is a statement now. Keep that in mind as you read further.

Remember the tense change? Let’s apply that to a few questions now.

Now these are questions that have wordy answers to them. What about the questions that has yes/no answers to them? In these type of questions just add “if” before asking the question. For example:

  • Direct speech: Would you like to eat some cupcakes?
  • Reported speech: He asked me if i would like to eat some cupcakes.
  • Direct speech: Have you ever seen the Van Gogh paintings?
  • Reported speech: She asked me if I had ever seen the Van Gogh paintings.
  • Direct speech: Are you eating your vegetables?
  • Reported speech: She asked if I was eating my vegetables.

Reported speech- Reported requests:

Well not all questions require answers. Some questions are polite requests. Remember? Could you please try to remember? And then there are request statements. Let’s see how do we convert these into reported speech.

Reported request = ask me + to + verb or requested me + to +verb

Just add this rule to your reported speech and you have what is called a reported request.

Reported speech- Reported orders:

Well, not everyone is going to be polite. Sometimes, we get orders. Now how will you report them? Unlike the request, the reporting verb isn’t ask but told or tell. Also, when in orders, sometimes subjects are omitted but while reporting we have to revive the subjects. Let’s see a few examples:

  • Direct speech: Sit down!
  • Reported speech: She told  me to sit down.
  • Direct speech: don’t worry!
  • Reported speech: She told me not to worry.

Reported speech- Time transitions:

With that, you have everything it takes to understand reported speech. you are all se to change the direct to reported speech. Go ahead and try a few examples. All the best!

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Transformation of Sentences

  • Active and Passive voice

37 responses to “Active and Passive voice”

Simple but very nice explanation and helpfull too.

What is the voice change of ” I have endeavoured to understand the fundamental truths.”

ENDEAVOUR HAS BEEN MADE BY ME TO UNDERSTAND THE FUNDAMENTAL TRUTH.

The fundamental truths have been endeavoured to be understood by me

The fundamental truths to understand had been endeavoured by him

The fundamental truths have endeavoured to be understood by me

The fundamental truths has been understood endeavoured to by me

How to change the voice for the following sentence – the books will be received by tomorrow

By whom? We need a subject. If the subject was for example “The library”, then the sentence in active voice would read “The library will receive the books by tomorrow”.

You will receive the books by tomorrow.

Tomorrow you will receive the book

You will receive the books (by) tomorrow.

Someone will receive the books by tomorrow

Tomorrow will be receive the books

HE WILL RECEIVE THE BOOKS BY TOMORROW.

By tomorrow the books will be received.

By tomorrow, you will receive the books

Tomorrow received the book

Change this “take right and turn left” into passive voice

Let the right be taken amd left be turned

‘amd’ is “and” 😅

You are advised to take right and turn left

Very helpful information thanks

Very well explained all basics that can lead to gain further knowledge very easily

What is in this box change into passive

what is the voice change of,” some people think nuclear is the best, because it doesnt add to global warming “….

Brilliant stuff!! – Rishabh

A kite was made by Ravi . What is the active form of this statement???

how to change into passive this sentence “when they were shifting the patient to the I.C.U.,he died

change into passive voice this sentence “when they were shifting the patient to I.C.U.,he died .

May you tell us tense conversion in voice.

Sentences without action like…. Jim is a doctor . Is it active or passive and if any how would you decide without having a main verb ?

It is named after the name of its principal tree ‘sundari'(passive)

how can ocean be object 🙄???

They made a bag

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  2. Reported Speech: A Complete Grammar Guide ~ ENJOY THE JOURNEY

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  3. ESL Teachers: REPORTED SPEECH

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  4. Reported Speech: A Complete Grammar Guide ~ ENJOY THE JOURNEY

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  5. Reported Speech part 4#reportedspeech #easy #englishgrammar #studytips #englishspeaking #highschool

  6. REPORTED SPEECH in English (DIRECT and INDIRECT speech)

COMMENTS

  1. Reported Speech

    Here's how it works: We use a 'reporting verb' like 'say' or 'tell'. ( Click here for more about using 'say' and 'tell' .) If this verb is in the present tense, it's easy. We just put 'she says' and then the sentence: Direct speech: I like ice cream. Reported speech: She says (that) she likes ice cream.

  2. Reported speech

    Verbs Clause structure and verb patterns Reported speech Reported speech Level: intermediate Reporting and summarising When we want to report what people say, we don't usually try to report their exact words. We usually give a summary, for example: Direct speech (exact words): Mary: Oh dear. We've been walking for hours! I'm exhausted.

  3. Reported speech

    from English Grammar Today Reported speech is how we represent the speech of other people or what we ourselves say. There are two main types of reported speech: direct speech and indirect speech. Direct speech repeats the exact words the person used, or how we remember their words: Barbara said, "I didn't realise it was midnight."

  4. Reported Speech

    Reported speech is a term we use when telling someone what another person said. You can do this while speaking or writing. There are two kinds of reported speech you can use: direct speech and indirect speech. I'll break each down for you. A direct speech sentence mentions the exact words the other person said. For example:

  5. Reported Speech

    Reported speech is the form in which one can convey a message said by oneself or someone else, mostly in the past. It can also be said to be the third person view of what someone has said. In this form of speech, you need not use quotation marks as you are not quoting the exact words spoken by the speaker, but just conveying the message.

  6. Reported Speech: Important Grammar Rules and Examples • 7ESL

    In short, reported speech is the linguistic technique that we use to tell somebody what someone else's direct speech was. In reported speech though, you may need to make certain changes to the grammar to make the sentence make sense. So, we'll look at some grammar change examples below and highlight what needs to be changed.

  7. Reported speech: statements

    Reported speech is when we tell someone what another person said. To do this, we can use direct speech or indirect speech. direct speech: 'I work in a bank,' said Daniel. indirect speech: Daniel said that he worked in a bank.

  8. Everyday Grammar: Mastering Reported Speech

    Reported speech in song Reported speech sometimes shows up in popular songs. The singer Lisa Loeb begins the song "Stay" with a reported verb in the present tense to show that the action is a habit.

  9. Reported Speech in English Grammar

    Introduction. In English grammar, we use reported speech to say what another person has said. We can use their exact words with quotation marks, this is known as direct speech, or we can use indirect speech.In indirect speech, we change the tense and pronouns to show that some time has passed.Indirect speech is often introduced by a reporting verb or phrase such as ones below.

  10. Reported Speech In English: The Ultimate Guide

    Reported speech, also known as indirect speech, is a way of retelling what someone else has said without repeating their exact words. For example, let's say you have a friend called Jon and one called Mary. Mary has organised a house party and has invited you and Jon. Jon, however, is not feeling well.

  11. Reported speech: reporting verbs

    Grammar explanation When we tell someone what another person said, we often use the verbs say, tell or ask. These are called 'reporting verbs'. However, we can also use other reporting verbs. Many reporting verbs can be followed by another verb in either an infinitive or an -ing form. Reporting verb + infinitive

  12. What is Reported Speech and How to Use It? with Examples

    Reported speech is used to report what someone else has said, thought, or written. It is often used in situations where you want to relate what someone else has said without quoting them directly. Reported speech can be used in a variety of contexts, such as in news reports, academic writing, and everyday conversation.

  13. Indirect speech

    Questions in indirect speech. We use the normal order of words in reported questions, i.e. the subject comes before the verb, and it is not necessary to use do or did. Imperatives in indirect speech. When we report an order or instruction, we use the form ask or tell someone to do something. Pronoun changes in indirect speech

  14. Reported speech: indirect speech

    The reported clause is in statement form (subject + verb), not question form: She asked if [S] [V] I was Scottish. (original yes-no question: 'Are you Scottish?') The waiter asked whether [S] we [V] wanted a table near the window. (original yes-no question: 'Do you want a table near the window?)

  15. Reported speech

    As you watch the video, look at the examples of reported speech. ... And then we change the topic form the conversation to favorite movies and he said that he was a great fan from star wars movies. And that was it . Log in or register to post comments; Submitted by 31170564 on Thu, 04/30/2020 - 09:14.

  16. Reported Speech: Structures and Examples

    Reported speech (Indirect Speech) is how we represent the speech of other people or what we ourselves say. Reported Speech focuses more on the content of what someone said rather than their exact words The structure of the independent clause depends on whether the speaker is reporting a statement, a question, or a command. Table of Contents

  17. Grammar Lesson

    1. We use direct speech to quote a speaker's exact words. We put their words within quotation marks. We add a reporting verb such as "he said" or "she asked" before or after the quote. Example: He said, "I am happy." 2. Reported speech is a way of reporting what someone said without using quotation marks.

  18. How to use Reported Speech

    In reported speech we need to use the past tense form of the verb. In direct speech the present tense is used. As you can see, in the above sentence 'am' changes to 'was' when we use reported speech. changing to the past tense to make reported speech. Here are some of the important verb changes we use when making reported speech: am becomes was

  19. Time and Place in Reported Speech

    Time and Place in Reported Speech. She said, "I saw Mary yesterday." She said she had seen Mary the day before. He said: "My mother is here." He said that his mother was there. Don't confuse time with tense. "Tense" is the grammatical form of the verb that in the reported clause we sometimes shift back (backshift).

  20. REPORTED SPEECH: Verb Tense Changes

    REPORTED SPEECH! https://7esl.com/reported-speech/Reported speech is often also called indirect speech in English.Direct Speech: https://7esl.com/direct-spee...

  21. Reported Speech Examples

    See the sentences below with direct and indirect speech forms, these are great references to understand the difference. Also See: Say vs Tell Exercises Subjunctive That Clause Reported Speech Examples 1 1. "Don't play with matches," his mother said. 1. His mother told him not to play with matches. 2. "I've forgotten to bring my lunch with me ...

  22. Reported Speech

    Reported speech is used when someone says a sentence, like, "I'm going to the movie tonight". Later, we want to tell a 3rd person what the first person is doing. It works like this: We use a reporting verb i.e 'say' or 'tell'. In the present tense, just put in 'he says. Direct Speech: I like burgers.

  23. Reported Speech: Direct and Indirect speech

    Whenever you report a speech there's a reporting verb used like "say" or "tell". For example: Direct speech: I love to play football. Reported speech: She said that she loves to play football. (Note 1 : Assume a gender if not mentioned already. Note 2: Using "that" is optional.