Reported Speech (Explanation and Video)


When we report someone’s words we can do it in two ways. We can use direct speech with quotation marks (“I work in a bank”), or we can use reported speech (He said he worked in a bank.)

Reported Speech

The present simple tense (I travel) usually changes to the past simple (he travelled) in reported speech.

  • Direct speech: “I travel a lot in my job” Reported speech: He said that he travelled a lot in his job.
  • Direct Speech: “I work in Italy” Reported speech: He told me that he works in Italy.

The present continuous tense usually changes to the past continuous.

  • Direct speech: “The baby’s sleeping.” Reported speech: She told me  that the baby was sleeping.

The past simple tense (we lived) usually changes to the past perfect (they had lived) in reported speech.

  • Direct speech: “We lived in China for 5 years.” Reported speech: She told me they had lived in China for 5 years.

The past continuous tense usually changes to the past perfect continuous.

  • Direct speech: “I was walking down the road when I saw the accident.” Reported speech: He told me he’d been walking down the road when he’d seen the accident.

The present perfect tense (have always been) usually changes to the past perfect tense (had always been).

  • Direct speech: “They’ve always been very kind to me”. Reported speech: She said they’d always been very kind to her.

The past perfect tense does not change in reported speech.

  • Direct speech: “They had already eaten when I arrived” Reported speech: He said they’d already eaten when he’d arrived.

Can’ and ‘can’t’ in direct speech change to ‘could’ and ‘couldn’t’ in reported speech.

  • Direct speech: “I can’t remember his name.” Reported speech: She said she couldn’t remember his name.

Will’ and ‘won’t’ in direct speech change to ‘would’ and ‘wouldn’t’ in reported speech.

  • Direct speech: “I’ll be there for 3 weeks.” Reported speech: He told me he’d be there for 3 weeks.

Other modal verbs don’t change in reported speech.

  • Direct speech: “You could be right.” Reported speech: I said that he could be right.
  • Direct speech: “You must call me.” Reported speech: She said that I must call her.

Enjoy the video  to learn more about Reported Speech from Nick Shepherd

 

Additional Information

Reported speech – how to say what someone told you on dictionaryblog.cambridge.org

Reported speech  on  learnenglish.de

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