In English we use reported speech to tell someone what another person said. In reported speech, we usually report what was said at a different time, and so we change the tense to reflect the time which we are reporting. The verb forms generally move one tense into the past.
Example Sentences :
DIRECT SPEECH : "I'm not playing football."
REPORTED LATER : He said that he wasn't playing football.
Look at the change in tense from direct speech to reported speech in these examples:
Present Simple ---> Past Simple
"I want to work abroad." ---> He said he wanted to work abroad.
Present Continuous ---> Past Continuous
"I'm teaching English in London." ---> She said she was teaching English in London.
Past Simple ---> Past Perfect
"I met a girl." ---> He said that he had met a girl.
Present Perfect ---> Past Perfect
"I've been to Australia." ---> She said she had been to Australia.
Will ---> Would
"I'll be back in May." ---> She said she would be back in May.
Can ---> Could
"I can help you." ---> He said that he could help me.
Be going to ---> Was/Were going to
"I'm going to start a business." ---> He told me he was going to start a business.
In English we use 'said' or 'told' in reported speech but they are used differently.
You can't use 'said' with an object or pronoun. eg. He said that he loved her. NOT He said her that he loved her.
You must use 'told' with an object. eg. He told her that he loved her. NOT He told that he loved her.
Notes for use of reported speech statements :
'That' is optional after say and tell.
Sometimes we need to change the pronoun:
DIRECT SPEECH : Jim: "I don't like living here." (Jim is referring to himself)
REPORTED SPEECH : Jim said (that) he didn't like living here. (the pronoun 'he' refers to Jim)
We may also need to change other words about place and time.
DIRECT SPEECH : "I went to Tokyo last week."
REPORTED SPEECH : She said (that) she'd been to Tokyo the week before.
If we report something which is still true, it is not necessary to change the verb.
DIRECT SPEECH : "My car is bigger than yours."
REPORTED SPEECH : He said his car is / was bigger than mine.
When we are reporting past tenses, and we see the events from the same viewpoint as the original speaker, it is not necessary to change the tense.
DIRECT SPEECH : "The earthquake happened at half past seven."
REPORTED SPEECH : The radio said that the earthquake happened at half past seven.
Modal verbs could, might, would, should, ought to and had better usually do not change in reported speech.
DIRECT SPEECH : "I should go to the dentist."
REPORTED SPEECH : He said that he should go to the dentist.
In English we don't have to report all the words people say. It's more important to report the main idea.
DIRECT SPEECH : "Don't forget to lock the door."
REPORTED SPEECH : She reminded them to lock the door.
The past simple and the past continuous don't have to change tense in reported speech, but they can.
If the reporting verb is in the present tense, then there is no change in tense.
eg. Dad says I can go to the party tonight if I finish my homework first.
Reporting verbs :
In English we use a variety of verbs to report what people say. The grammar structure we use after them changes.
Examples sentences :
invite / remind / warn + object + infinitive with to
offer / refuse / promise / agree / threaten + infinitive with to
admit / suggest + verb + ing
Some reporting verbs have more than one verb pattern.
After promise, agree, admit and suggest we can use that + clause.
eg. James admitted being in love with her. / James admitted that he was in love with her.
Verbs that summarize what people say:
verb + (that) : agree, complain, explain, insist, recommend, say, suggest
verb + object + (that) : warn, assure, persuade, tell
verb + gerund : deny, admit, recommend, suggest
verb + preposition + gerund : apologise, insist, object
verb + object + preposition + gerund : accuse, blame, congratulate, suspect
verb + infinitive : refuse, agree, decide, demand, offer, promise, threaten
verb + object + infinitive : tell, ask, invite, order, remind, warn
|Reported speech statement example sentences|
|He says he is having breakfast at a cafe.|
|I didn't say I wanted to or not...|
|I guess you said you like seafood.|
|When his right hand caught on fire!|
|Don't make fun of me, I told you that I'm a bit clumsy!|
|The girls say they will meet their boyfriends in Soho.|
|I said say hi to your IT manager!|
|She said the oil in the pan caught on fire, she didn't know what to do!|
|Please also say that I'm sorry I couldn't come tonight.|
|Well, you said you've been bringing your cat here since he was a kitten.|
|You told me, me smoking inside the room hurts your throat.|
|No, we didn't, I'm the owner... They told me you were coming.|
|I told her you were coming downstairs in a minute.|
|Diego said he really likes taking Bear out.|
|They say the early bird catches the worm!|
|She said she decided to stay in London for another month!|
|But you said you didn't want to eat meat.|
|I didn't say I wasn't going to clean it!|
|Exactly, I thought you said you didn't like violence!|
|Uh, it says it was built in 1841.|