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English Grammar and Exercises for ESL learners.

Reported (Indirect) Speech

In reported (indirect) speech, we report an idea expressed by someone,
without quoting the exact words used.
Direct speech Tom : "I like football."
Mary: "What did Tom say?"
Indirect (reported) speech Bill :   "Tom said (that) he liked football."

  • We use verbs such as : say, tell, announce, promise, explain.
  • The verb tenses become more past
  • We can omit 'that' : Tom said (that) he liked football

Direct Speech 

You talk to Mr. Smith and he tells you the following things :
  • I clean my car every Friday.
  • I'm doing a computer course this year.
  • I visited a museum yesterday.
  • I will be 30 tomorrow.
Indirect or Reported Speech 

You report your conversation with Mr. Smith to your husband/wife/friend :
  • Mr. Smith said (that) he cleaned his car every Friday.
  • He said (that) he was doing a computer course this year.
  • He said (that) he had visited a museum yesterday.
  • He said (that) he would be 30 tomorrow.

Questions :
In indirect or reported questions, the word order changes.
    Direct :
  • When is your husband starting his new job?
    Indirect :
  • He asked me when my husband was starting his new job.

Orders, requests, advice and suggestions :
Orders, requests, advice and suggestions are often reported by using the infinitive.
    Direct :
  • Be careful!
  • Don't drive too fast.
    Indirect :
  • I told him to be careful.
  • I told him not to drive too fast.

Present Simple
• Sophie said: "I want to go home."
Past Simple
• Sophie said (that) she wanted to go home.
Present Continuous
• He said “I am doing my homework.”
Past Continuous
• He said (that) he was doing his homework.
Present Perfect
• Eva said: “I have seen the film.”
Past Perfect
• Eva said (that) she had seen the film.
Present Perfect Continuous 
• He said: "I have been waiting for you."
Past Perfect Continuous 
• He said (that) he had been waiting for me.
Past Simple
• Dad said: “I mowed the garden.”
Past Perfect
• Dad said (that) he had mowed the garden.
Past Continuous 
• He said: "I was talking to Bob."
Past Perfect Continuous 
• He said (that) he had been talking to Bob.
Past Perfect  
• Paul said: "I had read the book."
→  Past Perfect (no change)
• Paul said (that) he had read the book.
Past Perfect Continuous 
• He said: I had been gardening."
Past Perfect Continuous (no change)
• He said (that) he had been gardening.
• She said: “I will never leave you.”
• She said (that) she would never leave him.
• Billy said: “I can swim 500 metres.”
• Billy said (that) he could swim 500 metres.
• She said: “It may be too expensive.”
• She said (that) it might be too expensive.
• He said: “Everyone must arrive early.”
Had to
• He said (that) everyone had to arrive early.
Have to
• She said: “I have to lock the door.”
Had to
• She said (that) she had to lock the door.
Orders, advice, suggestions
• She said: “Be careful!”
• She said: ”Don’t drive too fast!”
The infinitive is used in reporting
• She told him to be careful.
• She told him not to drive too fast.
These modal verbs do not change in reported speech: might, could, would, should, ought to.

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