Book your course now

How to use Reported Speech

Average: 4.4 (234 votes)

We use reported speech when we want to repeat what someone had previously said.

Let's look at the difference between direct speech and reported speech:

Direct Tomie said = 'I am tired.'

Reported Speech = 'Tomie said (that) she was tired.'

In reported speech we need to use the past tense form of the verb. In direct speech the present tense is used. As you can see, in the above sentence 'am' changes to 'was' when we use reported speech.

changing to the past tense to make reported speech

Here are some of the important verb changes we use when making reported speech:

am becomes was

Direct John: 'I am going.'
Reported: 'John said that he was going.'

is becomes was

Direct John: 'She is tall.'
Reported: 'John said that she was tall.'

do becomes did

Direct John: 'I always do my homework.'
Reported: 'John said that he always did his homework.'

does becomes did

Direct John: 'My mother does the cleaning.'
Reported: 'John said that his mother did the cleaning.'

have becomes had

Direct John: 'I have your number.'
Reported: 'John said that he had my number.'

has becomes had

Direct John: 'He has caught a cold.'
Reported: 'John said that he had caught a cold.'

go becomes went

Direct John: 'I go shopping on Sunday.'
Reported: 'John said that he went shopping on Sunday.'

will becomes would

Direct John: 'I will call Frank.'
Reported: 'John said that he would call Frank.'

can becomes could

Direct John: 'I can ride a horse.'
Reported: 'John said that he could ride a horse.'

want becomes wanted

Direct John: 'I want a girlfriend.'
Reported: 'John said that he wanted a girlfriend.'

When not to change the verb tense

When direct speech uses the past tense we do not need to make a change:

Direct John: 'I broke my arm.'
Reported: 'John said that he broke his arm.'

It is also OK to change the past tense to the past perfect:

Direct John: 'I broke my arm.'
Reported: 'John said that he had broken his arm.'

using reported speech for questions

So far we have looked at using 'said' in reported speech. When a question is asked we do not use 'said'. Instead we use 'asked'.
We also need to use an interrogative (wh- word) or if / whether.
Take a look at the examples:

questions using interrogatives

Direct John: 'What is your name?'
Reported: 'John asked me what my name was.'

Direct John: 'Where does she live?'
Reported: 'John asked me where she lived.'

questions using if / whether

Direct John: 'Does he play golf?'
Reported: 'John asked if he played golf.'
Reported: 'John asked whether he played golf.'

using reported speech for requests

As we have seen, 'said' is used for statements and 'asked' is used for requests. We use 'told' for requests and 'to' before the clause:

Direct John: 'Go home'
Reported: 'John told me to go.'

Direct John: 'Stop crying'
Reported: 'John told me to stop crying.'

using suggestions in reported speech

When someone gives us advice in direct speech we use 'suggested' or 'recommended' in reported speech:

Direct John: 'You should take a holiday'
Reported: 'John suggested that I took a holiday.'

Direct John: 'You should take a holiday'
Reported: 'John recommended that I took a holiday.'

For stronger language we can use 'insist' or 'demand':

Direct John: 'You must see a doctor.'
Reported: 'John insisted that I saw a doctor.'
Reported: 'John demanded that I saw a doctor.'

  • 'My brothers are taller than me.'

  • 'I will see you soon.'

  • 'I have a cold.'

  • 'I know the way.'

  • 'He lost his phone.'

  • 'Do you want a coffee?'

  • 'Are you Simon?'

  • 'Why do you like Jazz?'

  • 'Bring your ball.'

  • 'You must come to my party.'


subjuntive is needed

About" using suggestions in reported speech", I thought we should use subjuntive in the that-clause when the clauses come after reporting verbs like" ask, recommend , demand, suggest and insist".

Every witch has her own crystal ball.

This is true in the case of

This is true in the case of formal written English.

A little mistake

"She insisted that I come to her party."
"Come" according to the lesson should be replaced by "came".

It is really very useful lesson.

Bring your ball

Follow this lesson, I think :
He told me to bring my ball should be changed : He told me to brought my ball. Is it right?

Thank you for revising. It

Thank you for revising. It is very useful exersice!!

very useful lesson, hope to

very useful lesson, hope to remember these rules

Need help with changing from direct to indirect speech

Hi guys. Could I get help on changing this sentence into indirect speech.

"Victoria Station as fast as you can. I must catch the 11h30 train"

Thank you so so much !

Usefull Topic!

Very helpful, Best Topic, different cases for changing to reported speech are addressed with comprehensive examples.

Help to change Sentence to reported speech

could someone help me with changing the below sentence to reported speech.

Please be carful of those things in your life which you will never have chances to correct them again.