Reported Speech

Reported Speech


Introduction
1) When we want to tell somebody what someone else has said we can use either direct speech (exact words in quotation marks) or indirect speech (also called reported speech). The latter variant is more common.

Liz said, ‘I work as a nanny’. (direct speech)
Liz said that she works as a nanny. (reported speech)
2) In reported speech the reporting verb can stay in the present simple if the original words are still true or repeated very often.

Pam always tells me that she is going to get a gym membership.

If something is no longer true or happened some time ago, there is a backshift of tenses in reported speech (e.g. we use the past simple instead of the present simple). Study the following table:
Backshift of Tenses
Direct Speech
Reported Speech
present simple →
past simple
I like this movie.
Kate told me that she liked that movie.
present continuous →
past continuous
I’m working on the important project.
Jim said that he was working on the important project.
past simple →
past perfect
We bought a house.
The Smiths said that they had bought a house.
present perfect →
past perfect
I have known Mr. Ola for ages.
Peter claimed that he had known Mr. Ola for ages.
present perfect continuous →
past perfect continuous
I have been waiting for you for an hour!
Mike complained that he had been waiting for me for an hour.
past continuous →
past perfect continuous
We were working day and night.
They told me that they had been working day and night.
will → would
I will see you tomorrow!
Andrew told me that he would see me the following day.
can → could
Can you open this jar?
Betty asked me if I could open that jar.

Note that we also need to change time/place expressions and demonstratives in reported speech.
Indirect Speech
Reported Speech
today
that day
now
then
yesterday
the day before
… days ago
… days before
last week
the week before
next year
the following year
tomorrow
the next/following day
here
there
this
that
these
those


The structure of the reported clause depends on whether we are reporting a statement, a question, or an imperative:
a) statements consist of a reporting clause and a reported clause beginning with that (although we can omit that in informal speech).

My sister told me (that) she wanted to move to China for a year.

b) yes-no questions and questions with or consist of a reporting clause and a reported clause beginning with if/whether. Note that the reported clause does not retain the word order of questions; use if/whether + subject + verb instead.

My boss asked me if/whether I had written the report on Thursday.
My boss asked me if/whether I had written the report on Thursday or Friday.







Wh-questions consist of a reporting clause and a reported clause beginning a wh-word (who, what, when, where, why, or how). Note that the reported clause does not retain the word order of questions; use if/whether + subject + verb instead.

Jack wanted to know what happened to our colleague.
The police was investigating who lived in that building.


c) imperatives consist of a reporting clause and a reported clause beginning with (not) to + infinitive.

My mom told me not to come home very late. She also asked me to buy some bread.

Don't Stop There!

This is only a small part of the lesson. There is so much more to learn. Continue this lesson by joining The Ultimate English Grammar Course. 

 

Inside the course, you can continue with this lesson. There are dozen more uses and examples not shown here. You will also get access to guided practice with a real English professor, a real-life dialogue conversation,  and dozens of grammar practice problems with answers and PDF/ebook. Just click below to open the full course!

See What Our Students Say...

review5.png
review1.png
review2.png
review6.png
review4.png

Still Not Sure?

  • Learn the most important topics in English grammar

  • Learn how to use English grammar in real conversation examples.

  • Prepare for English grammar exams like  A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, TOEFL, IELTS, and TOEIC

  • Improve your speaking, listening, and writing with English grammar.

  • Beginner | Intermediate | Advanced | All Levels

  • Master English writing with the new bonus English punctuation section

Everything You Need to Know

This course has every English grammar topic. If you want to learn perfect English, this course is for you! No other English course covers as many English Grammar topics. This course includes a full English grammar book with hundreds of practice problems.

Enjoy the new English punctuation course that is included with this already huge English grammar course.

4 courses in 1 | Beginner Grammar | Intermediate Grammar | Advanced Grammar | English Punctuation

Don't waste your time buying dozens of English grammar courses. Everything you need is all in this English Grammar Master Course. This is the only course that teaches you English grammar in use and also shows you how to use it in real English conversation.

Every lesson has dozens of useful English Grammar examples, video lectures, guided practice, real-life English conversation, and worksheet pdfs full of practice problems to help you learn English.

The teacher for this course is a real-life university professor and will answer any questions you have.

Every lesson comes with the following:

  • Dozens of examples with full explanations.

  • Side by side guided instruction with Professional English teacher

  • A real-life conversation dialogue to show the grammar topic in use

  • Plenty of activities and exercises to practice what you learned.

  • A PDF worksheet to download and work offline

This course has 3 sections. Beginner grammar, intermediate grammar, and advanced grammar.

The course now also includes a full English punctuation course in addition to the English grammar course. Learn to master English writing and bring your English to the next level.

With the help of our course, you will master English grammar to improve your English speaking, or to ace those tough English grammar test such as A1, A2, B1, B2, C1,  TOEFL, IETLS, AND TOEIC.

Start learning English the easy way!

Langpill | Learn English | Speaking | Listening | Writing