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Reported Speech

Reported speech, doesnt use quotation marks. In general, when we use reported speech we have to change verb tenses. There are 2 words that we might use frequently: that for affirmative and negative statements, and in the other hand if / whether for interrogative statements.
Note: Take into account that time expressions also suffer changes when using reported speech. Look at changes shown below.

Direct Speech
Present Simple "He's American," she said. "I'm happy to see you," Mary said. He asked, "Are you busy tonight?" Present Continuous Dan is living in San Francisco," she said. He said, "I'm making dinner." "Why are you working so hard?" they asked. Past Simple "We went to the movies last night," he said. "Greg said, "I didn't go to work yesterday." "Did you buy a new car?" she asked. Past Continuous "I was working late last night," Vicki said. They said, "we weren't waiting long." " He asked, "were you sleeping when I called?" Present Perfect Simple "Heather said, "I've already eaten." "We haven't been to China," they said. "Have you worked here before?" I asked. Present Perfect Continuous "I've been studying English for two years," he said. " Steve said, "we've been dating for over a year now." "Have you been waiting long?" they asked. Past Perfect Simple "I'd been to Chicago before for work," he said. Past Perfect Continuous Past Simple

Reported Speech
She said he was American. Mary said that she was happy to see me. He asked me if I was busy that night. Past Continuous She said Dan was living in San Francisco. He told me that he was making dinner. They asked me why I was working so hard. Past Perfect Simple He told me they had gone to the movies the night before. Greg said that he hadn't gone to work the day before. She asked me if I had bought a new car. Past Perfect Continuous Vicki told me she'd been working late the night before. They said that they hadn't been waiting long. He asked if I'd been sleeping when he called. Past Perfect Simple Heather told me that she'd already eaten. They said they hadn't been to China. I asked her whether she'd worked there before. Past Perfect Continuous He said he'd been studying English for two years. Steve told me that they'd been dating for over a year. They asked whether I'd been waiting long. Past Perfect Simple (*NO CHANGE) He said that he'd been to Chicago before for work. Past Perfect Continuous (*NO CHANGE)

She said, "I'd been dancing for years before the She said she'd been dancing for years before the accident." accident.
Note: When we speak about something that hasnt changed (continues being true) or something about the future, it is not necessary to change verb tense.

Examples: "I'm 30 years old," she said. She said she is 30 years old. Dave said, "Kelly is sick." Dave said Kelly is sick. "We are going to Tokyo next week," they said. They said they are going to Tokyo next week. "I'll cut my hair tomorrow," Nina said. Nina said she is cutting her hair tomorrow.

Modal Verbs
Verb tenses change depending on some modal verbs.
Note: When using "would", "could", "should", "might" and "ought to", verb tense doesnt change.

Direct Speech
Will "I'll go to the movies tomorrow," John said. "Will you help me move?" she asked. Can Debra said, "Allen can work tomorrow." "Can you open the window, please?", he asked. Must "You must wear your seatbelt," mom said. She said, "You must work tomorrow." Shall "Shall we go to the beach today?" Tom asked. "What shall we do tonight?" she asked. May Jane said, "I may not be in class tomorrow." Would

Indirect Speech
John said he would go to the movies the next day. She asked me if I would help her move. Could Debra said Allen could work the next day. He asked me if I could open the window. Had to My mom said I had to wear my seatbelt. She said I had to work the next day. Should Tom asked if we should go to the beach that day. She asked me what we should do that night. Might/Could Jane said she might not be in class the next day.

the boy asked. "May I use the bathroom, please?" the boy The boy asked if he could use the bathroom. asked.
Note: In the chart below, it is shown how some time expressions suffer changes when using reported speech.

Direct Speech
today tonight this week/month/year tomorrow next week/month/year yesterday last week/month/year now here that day that night that week/month/year the next day

Indirect Speech

the following week/month/year the day before/the previous day the day/month/year before o the previous day/month/year then/at that moment there

Exercise: Reported Speech without backshift Change of Pronouns


Helen is in front of the class holding a presentation on London. As Helen is rather shy, she speaks with a very low voice. Your classmate Gareth does not understand her, so you have to repeat every sentence to him. Complete the sentences in reported speech (no backshift). Note the change of pronouns and verbs.

Helen: I want to tell you something about my holiday in London. Gareth: What does she say? You: She says that _________________________ Helen: I went to London in July. Gareth: What does she say? You: She says that _________________________ Helen: My parents went with me. Gareth: What does she say? You: She says that _________________________ Helen: We spent three days in London. Gareth: What does she say? You: She says that _________________________ Helen: London is a multicultural place. Gareth: What does she say? You: She says that _________________________ Helen: I saw people of all colours. Gareth: What does she say? You: She says that _________________________

Helen: Me and my parents visited the Tower. Gareth: What does she say? You: She says that _________________________ Helen: One evening we went to see a musical. Gareth: What does she say? You: She says that _________________________ Helen: I love London. Gareth: What does she say? You: She says that _________________________ Helen: The people are so nice there. Gareth: What does she say? You: She says that _________________________