Grammar: Reported Speech
Reported Speech or (Indirect Speech).
What is reported speech?
Reported speech is when you tell somebody else what you or a person said before.
Distinction must be made between direct speech and reported speech.
Direct speech : ." Reported speech :
|Direct Speech||Reported Speech|
*She says: "I like tuna fish"
*She said: "I'm visiting Paris next weekend"
*She says that she likes tuna fish
*She said that she was visiting Paris the following weekend.
When you use reported speech, you either report:
3-requests / commands
When transforming statements, check whether you have to change:
3-place and time expression
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 change of tenses in Reported speech.
If the sentence starts in the past, there is often change of tenses in Reported speech.
(no change) “I write poems.” He says that he writes poems.
(change) “I write poems.” He said that he wrote poems.
Examples of the main changes in tense:
present : He said: "I am happy" Past : He said that he was happy
Present Progressive: He said: "I'm looking for my keys" Past Progressive : He said that he was looking for his keys
Simple Past: He said: "I visited New York last year" Past Perfect Simple: He said that he had visited New York the previous year.
Present Perfect: He said: " I've lived here for a long time " Past Perfect: He said that he had lived there for a long time
Past Perfect: He said: "They had finished the work when I arrived" Past Perfect: He said that they had finished the work when he had arrived"
Past Progressive: He said: "I was playing football when the accident occurred" Past Perfect Progressive:He said that he had been playing football when the accident had occurred
Present Perfect Progressive: He said:"I have been playing football for two hours." Past Perfect Progressive: He said that he had been playing football for two hours
Past Perfect Progressive: He said: "I had been reading a newspaper when the light went off" Past Perfect Progressive : He said that he had been reading a newspaper when the light had gone off
Future Simple (will+verb): He said: "I will open the door." Conditional (would+verb): He said that he would open the door.
Conditional (would+verb): He said: "I would buy Mercedes if I were rich" Conditional (would+verb): He said that he would buy Mercedes if he had been rich"
The verbs could, should, would, might, must, needn't, ought to, used to do not normally change.
He said, “She might be right.” – He said that she might be right.
3- Place, demonstratives and time expressions
In the following list, you will find the different changes of place; demonstratives and time expressions.
today that day
yesterday the day before
… days ago … days before
last week the week before
next year the following year
tomorrow the next day / the following day
B. Reporting Questions
When transforming questions, check whether you have to change:
2-place and time expressions
Also note that you have to:
transform the question into an indirect question
use the question word (where, when, what, how) or if / whether
With question word (what, why, where, how…)
"Why" don’t you speak English?” He asked me why I didn’t speak English.
Without question word (yes or no questions)
“Do you speak English?” He asked me whether / if I spoke English.
C. Reporting requests / commands
When transforming requests and commands, check whether you have to change:
2-place and time expressions
“Nancy,do the exercise.“ He told Nancy to do the exercise.
"Nancy, give me your pen, please." He asked Nancy to give him her pen.
Tenses are not relevant for requests – simply use to / not to + verb (infinitive without "to")
She said, “Sit down." – She asked me to sit down.
She said, "don't be lazy" – She asked me not to be lazy
For affirmative use to + infinitive
For negative requests, use not to + infinitive .
D. Other transformations
Expressions of advice with must, should and ought are usually reported using advise / urge.
“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.
“Let’s go to the cinema.“= *He suggested going to the cinema. *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.“