DEFINITIONReported speech (also known as indirectspeech) refers to a sentence reporting whatsomeone has said. When we use reportedspeech, we are usually talking about the past(because obviously the person who spokeoriginally spoke in the past). The verbstherefore usually have to be in the past too. "Im going to the cinema". He said he was going to the cinema.
RULESIn all sentences, the quotation marksand the comma immediately before thefirst quotation mark are removed. Next,the word "that" is usually inserted afterthe reporting verb. Then, there arecertain changes to be considered. She said, “I work very hard." She said she worked very hard.
1. Tense changes Direct speech Indirect speech Present simple Past simple › She said, "Its cold." She said it was cold.Present continuous Past continuousShe said, "Im teaching › She said she was teaching English online." English online.
Other tense changes Modal verb forms also change: Direct speech Indirect speechwill would She said, "Ill teach English › She said she would teach English online tomorrow." online tomorrow.can could She said, "I can teach English › She said she could teach English online." online.must had to She said, "I must have a › She said she had to have a computer to teach English computer to teach English online. online."
2. Time and place changes Time and place references change: now › then today › that day here › there this › that this week › that week the following day tomorrow › the next day the day after
the following weeknext week › the next week the week after the previous dayYesterday › the day before the previous weeklast week › the week before previouslyAgo › before 2 weeks previously2 weeks ago › 2 weeks beforeTonight › that night the previous Saturdaylast Saturday › the Saturday before the following Saturday the next Saturdaynext Saturday › the Saturday after that Saturday
Examples:I went to the theatre lastnight. He said he had gone to thetheatre the night before.Im staying here until nextweek. He said he was staying thereuntil the following week.
3. PronounsPersonal pronouns need to be changed accordingto the situation. “I run 5 km every day”, said she. She said she ran 5 km every day.
4. Reporting VerbsSaid, told and asked are the most common verbs used inindirect speech.We use “asked” to report questions:I asked Lynne what time the lesson started.We use “told” with an object.Lynne told me she felt tired.We usually use “said” without an object.Lynne said she was going to teach online.If “said” is used with an object we must include “to”Lynne said to me that shed never been to China.
There are many other verbs we can use apart from said,told and asked. These include: accused, admitted, advised, alleged, agreed, apologised, begged, boasted, complained, denied, explained, implied, invited, offered, ordered, promised, replied, suggested and thought.
5. Indirect Questions We normally use asked. YES/NO Questions:“Can you pass me the salt?” she asked.1- We write the subject + asked if: She asked if...2- We invert the subject order of the question and change pronouns, time and place expressions and tenses: She asked if I could pass her the salt. WH- Questions:They asked “Where does your brother live?1- We write the subject + asked: They asked2- We write the WH- word, and we invert the subject order of the question and change pronouns, time and place expressions and tenses: They asked where my brother lived.