Reported speech is the act of quoting what someone else said. There are two main ways you can quote what another person has said:
- You can use ‘direct speech’ which is the act of copying exactly what someone else said, and if, in writing, you would need to use quotation marks.
- We also have reported speech, or as it’s known to some indirect speech.
What happens in reported speech?
When you use reported speech or indirect speech, you need to change several elements of the sentence.
Examples of direct speech and reported speech (indirect speech)
- Direct speech: ”I like going to the park”. Reporter: She said ”I like going to the park”.
- Reported speech: ”I like going to the park”. Reporter: ”She said, (that) she liked going to the park”.
In the first example using ‘direct speech‘, the sentence goes as follows, ”I like going to the park”. This sentence had been reported directly, with no changes, hence the term, ‘direct speech’.
In the second example using reported speech, “I like going to the park”, had been reported indirectly: ”She said, she liked going to the park”.
To use reported speech, we had to make changes to the new sentence which was reporting.
For instance: the pronouns, and the grammar — present to past because the reporter of the speech is now speaking in the present moment; a verb change is necessary.
Rules for using reported speech
|present simple||I like to play sports.||past simple
She said (that) she liked to play sports.
|present continuous||I am doing my exam.||past continuous
He said (that) he was doing his exam.
|past simple||I cleaned my room.||past perfect simple
She said (that) she had cleaned his room.
|past continuous||I was playing my video game.||past perfect continuous
He said (that) he had been playing his video game.
|present perfect||I haven’t been to the park.||past perfect
She said (that) she hadn’t been to the park.
|past perfect||I had seen that guy before Wednesday.||past perfect
She said (that) she hadn’t seen that guy before Wednesday.
|present perfect continuous||I have been living in Spain for two years.||past perfect continuous
She said (that) she had been living in Spain for two years.
|future simple||I will go to the market.||conditional (would)
She said (that) she would go to the market.
|conditional||He wouldn’t go to the concert.||conditional (would)
He said (that) he wouldn’t go to the concert.
|ought to||I ought to buy a phone.||ought to
She said she ought to buy a phone.
|may||I may come tonight.||could/would
He said he would/could come tonight.
|need||I need to get a new cup.||must/had to
He said (that) he must get a new cup/ he said that he had to get a new cup.
|can||I can speak Spanish.||could
She said (that) she could speak Spanish.
|could||I could dance when I was younger.||could
She said (that) she could dance when she was younger.
|shall||They shall not come this evening.||would
He said (that) they would’t come this/that evening.
|should||I should buy a new phone.||should
She said (that) she should buy a new phone.
|might||I might arrive late today.||might
She said (that) she might arrive late today/yesterday/the other day.
|must||I must go to the mall.||must
She said (that) she must go to the mall.
This is a complete list of all active verb forms and modal auxiliaries with their respective forms that work in reported speech. It is important to note that time expressions or references to time can change. For example:
”I cleaned my room yesterday” = He said (that) he had cleaned his room (yesterday/the other day/Tuesday/Friday/ two weeks ago). The time reference will depend completely on the situation and point in time, this it is subjective to the reporter.
Modal auxiliary verbs:
- Articles (a/an, the, zero article)
- Pronouns: subject, object and possessive
- Question tags
- English conditionals
- Interrogatives in English
- Phrasal verbs
- Prefixes and suffixes
- Punctuation: apostrophes, colons, semi-colons, commas, dashes, full stops, question marks, exclamation marks, and quotation marks
- Numbers: cardinal, ordinal, and Roman numbers
- The verb: “get”
- ‘Get’ vs. ‘go’ and ‘got’ vs. ‘gotten’
- Copular verbs
- Cleft sentences
- Subjunctive in English
- Vulgar and taboo in English
- Split infinitive
- Emphasis with inversion
- Gerunds in English
- To + infinitive
- Bare infinitive
- British and American spelling