In this chapter the reported speech is explained. There are two different ways to report someone's words: you can use direct speech with quotation marks or you can use reported (indirect) speech.
Reported speech is used to report ideas expressed by another person in order to tell in our own words what someon has said. You can report someone's words in two ways:
The direct speech repeats the exact words someone said. These repeated quotations or phrases are placed between quatation marks and the verb tense is not modified.
The indirect speech is used to talk about what someone said in the past. This implies a modification of the verb tenses in comparison to direct speech. The verbs: 'to say', 'to tell', 'to advise', 'to promise' or 'to ask' are used, usually followed by the word 'that', to present the speech that has been said.
The verbal tense of a sentence changes when we go from direct speech to indirect speech. The table below show the changes that have to be made when the direct speech is converted to indirect speech.
|Direcht speech||Indirect speech|
|Present simple||"He is a teacher", she said.||Past simple||She said that he was a teacher.|
|Present continuous||He said, "I am making dinner".||Past continuous||He said that he was making dinner.|
|Present perfect||They asked, "Have you been to Australia?"||Passt perfect||They asked me if I had been to Australia.|
|Present perfect continuous||“I’ve been studying Italian for four years,” he said.||Past perfect continuous||He said he’d been studying Italian for four years.|
|Past simple||Mary said: “I didn’t go to school yesterday".||Past perfect||Mary said that she hadn’t gone to school the day before.|
|Past continuous||He said, "I was having a shower when you called".||Past perfect continuous||He said that he had been having a shower when I called.|
|Past perfect||"I had prepared something special for you", he said.||Past perfect (does not change)||He said that he had prepared something special for me.|
|Past perfect continuous||She said, “I had been repairing the car before we went.”||Past perfect continuous (does not change)||She said that she had been repairing the car before they went.|
|Future simple||He said, "I will go tomorrow"||Auxiliary would||He said that he would go tomorrow.|
It is not always necessary to modify the verb tense. If the quotation or speech is still true now, the present simple can be used:
Some modal verbs are also modified when used in the reported speech.
|Can||“Can you open the door, please?”, he asked.||Could||He asked me if I could open the door.|
|Must||“You must wear your seat belt,” the police said.||Had to||The police said that I had to wear my seat belt.|
|Shall||"Shall we go to the beach today?” Mom asked.||Should||Mom asked if we should go to the beach that day.|
|May||"May I help you?", he asked.||Might/ could||He asked me if he could help me.|
The modal verbs do not change if they already have the follwing forms in direct speech:
Some expressions of time or place also undergo modifications when changing form direct ot indirect speech:
|Direct speech||Indirect speech|
|Tomorrow||The following day|
|A week ago/ last week||A week before/ the previous week|
|Last month||The month before/the previous month|
|Next year||The following year|
|In four years||Four years from then|
Test yourself with the free exercises about reported speech below.
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