Monday, 26 August 2013


Reported speech refers to a sentence reporting what someone has said.  It is almost always used in spoken English.
In reported speech the tenses, word-order and pronouns may be different from those in the original sentence.

If simple present, present perfect or the future is used in the reporting verb (i.e. says) the tense is retained. Look at these example sentences:

For example:
He says the test is difficult.
She has said that she watches TV every day.
Jack will say that he comes to school every day.

If the reporting verb (i.e. said) is in the past, the reported clause will be in a past form. This form is usually one step back into the past from the original. Look at these example sentences:

For example:
He said the test was difficult.
She said she watched TV every day.
Jack said he came to school every day.

However, if you are reporting a universal truth, facts or something that is still true, you can keep the verb in the present. 

For example: 
He said that mathematics is a science.
The teacher said that phrasal verbs are very important.

Here is how the tense backshift works:

Here is a list of common place and time words, showing how you change them for reported speech:

For example:
He said: "It is cold in here."  He said that it was cold in there.
He said: "It was hot yesterday."  He said that it had been hot the day before.
He said: "We are going to swim tomorrow."  He said they were going to swim the next day.

When reporting questions, it is especially important to pay attention to sentence order. When reporting yes/ no questions, connect the reported question using if. When reporting questions using question words (why, where, when, etc.), use the question word.

For example:
Kate asked, "Do you want to come with me?"   Kate asked me if I wanted to come with her.
Dave asked, "Where did you go last weekend?"  Dave asked me where I had gone the previous weekend.
Henry asked, "Why are you studying English?"  Henry asked me why I was studying English. 

Click here to practise reported speech.

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