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Reported Speech Part 1

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When we want to tell someone what someone else said we can do this in two ways:
‘Will you marry me?’ Chris asked Sandra.
‘I am moving to Boston.’ Peter said.

This is repeating exactly what someone said which is why it is referred to as ‘direct speech’.
But we usually report what people say because the things they said are important. We choose to report this in our own words. We use ‘indirect speech’ or ‘reported speech’:

Chris asked Sandra to marry him.
Peter said that he was moving to Boston.

These sentences often have reporting verbs like ‘ask’ and ‘say’ in the reporting clause which is followed by the reported clause which has the original statement, thought or question.
‘Peter said...(reporting clause)..that he was moving to Boston.

Reported speech with statements and thoughts

If we report what people think we use a reported clause which usually begins with ‘that’:
He thinks that he has made the right choice.
He said that he was thinking of leaving the company.
However in informal speech and writing ‘that’ is usually left out:
He thinks he made the right choice.
He said he was thinking of leaving the company.

Omitting ‘that’ is also usual if the verb used is a common reporting verb.
Verbs like ‘explain’, ‘admit’, ‘agree’, complain etc. usually have ‘that’ as a conjunction:

She agreed that shouting at her boss had been a bad idea.
We agreed that it would be better to wait.

Reported speech and a third person.

We might also want to mention the person speaking and the person listening in the original conversation. In reported speech the verbs are followed by a direct object with the person ‘listening to the conversation’.
Chris asked Sandra to marry him.
He informed us that he was leaving the city.

With some reporting verbs it is possible to choose to not mention the person listening.
I promised them that we wouldn’t be late.
I promised we wouldn’t be late.

If we mention the person listening with certain reporting verbs we do this with a prepositional phrase: >He agreed (with me) that it had been the right decision.
She admitted (to us) that it had been a mistake to shout at her boss.

We look at other aspects of reported speech in other lessons.

Today's lesson is by Tristan, English teacher at EC Malta

Now choose the correct sentences:

  • 1 - Which is correct?

  • 2 - Which is correct?

  • 3 - Which is correct?

  • 4 - Which is correct?

  • 5 - Which is correct?

  • 6 - Which is correct?