Reported speech 1

 

 

Reported speech (1)

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.)

In reported speech the tenses, word-order and pronouns may be different from those in the original sentence.

Present simple and present continuous tenses

  • Direct speech: “I travel a lot in my job” Reported speech: He said that he travelled a lot in his job.

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

  • Direct speech: “Be quiet. The baby’s sleeping.” Reported speech: She told me to be quiet because the baby was sleeping.

The present continuous usually changes to the past continuous.

NB:

  • “I work in Italy” Reported speech: He told me that he works in Italy.

It isn’t always necessary to change the tense. If something is still true now – he still works in Italy – we can use the present simple in the reported sentence.

Past simple and past continuous tenses

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

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

  • 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 past continuous usually changes to the past perfect continuous.

Perfect tenses

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

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

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

The past perfect tense does not change in reported speech.

You can find more information about reported speech in another section.

 

Exercise