Introduction to Reported Speech

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Welcome to your Introduction to Reported Speech lesson! In this topic we talk about:
• What is Reported Speech?
Forming Reported Speech sentences
Changing Direct Speech in the Past Simple to Reported Speech
Take the quizzes when you’re ready! If you’re having problems, use the comment box to contact our English Teachers.

What is Reported Speech?

Imagine this morning you saw your friend James, and he said:

“I feel hungry.”

Now, you want to tell someone else what James said. You can do this two ways. You can simply quote James using direct speech:

“James said ‘I feel hungry.'”

Or you can use reported speech:

“James said that he felt hungry.”

Forming Reported Speech sentences

When you want to form reported speech sentence, you usually start with the Past Simple: (“James said that… “) Then continue in the past for the rest: (“…he felt hungry.”) Here are a few more examples:

“I told you that I didn’t want any more to drink!”

“She explained that she was angry with me.”

You can often leave “that” out completely:

“I told you I didn’t want any more to drink!”

“She explained she was leaving me.”

Generally speaking, the present in direct speech changes to the past when you want to report that sentence:

is” → “was”
do” → “did”
have” → “had”

Have a look at a few direct speech sentences changed to reported speech sentences:

I‘m going out tonight.” → “She said she was going out tonight.

I need a new job.” → “He said that she needed a new job.

My girlfriend is from London.” → “He said his girlfriend was from London.

I don’t go out at night.” → “She said that she didn’t go out at night.

I live near you.” → “She said she lived near me.

Changing Direct Speech in the Past Simple to Reported Speech

You have two choices when reporting a past simple sentence; either you can leave it in the past simple, or you can use the Past Perfect:

Direct speech
I visited Mauritius last year.

Reported speech – Past Simple
He said he visited Mauritius last year.

Reported speech – Past Perfect
He said he had visited Mauritius last year.

 

Direct speech
I played the piano when I was younger.

Reported speech – Past Simple
She said she played the piano when she was younger.

Reported speech – Past Perfect
She said she had played the piano when she was younger.

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