Reported speech: questions

Reported speech: questions

Do you know how to report a question that somebody asked? Test what you know with interactive exercises and read the explanation to help you.

Look at these examples to see how we can tell someone what another person asked.

direct speech: 'Do you work from home?' he said.
indirect speech: He asked me if I worked from home.

direct speech: 'Who did you see?' she asked.
indirect speech: She asked me who I'd seen.

direct speech: 'Could you write that down for me?' she asked.
indirect speech: She asked me to write it down.

Try this exercise to test your grammar.

Grammar test 1

Grammar B1-B2: Reported speech 2: 1

Read the explanation to learn more.

Grammar explanation

A reported question is when we tell someone what another person asked. To do this, we can use direct speech or indirect speech.

direct speech: 'Do you like working in sales?' he asked.
indirect speech: He asked me if I liked working in sales.

In indirect speech, we change the question structure (e.g. Do you like) to a statement structure (e.g. I like).

We also often make changes to the tenses and other words in the same way as for reported statements (e.g. have donehad done, todaythat day). You can learn about these changes on the Reported speech 1 – statements page.

Yes/no questions

In yes/no questions, we use if or whether to report the question. If is more common.

'Are you going to the Helsinki conference?'
  • He asked me if I was going to the Helsinki conference.
'Have you finished the project yet?'
  • She asked us whether we'd finished the project yet.

Questions with a question word

In what, where, why, who, when or how questions, we use the question word to report the question.

'What time does the train leave?'
  • He asked me what time the train left.
'Where did he go?'
  • She asked where he went.

Reporting verbs

The most common reporting verb for questions is ask, but we can also use verbs like enquire, want to know or wonder.

'Did you bring your passports?'
  • She wanted to know if they'd brought their passports.
'When could you get this done by?'
  • He wondered when we could get it done by.

Offers, requests and suggestions

If the question is making an offer, request or suggestion, we can use a specific verb pattern instead, for example offer + infinitive, ask + infinitive or suggest + ing.

'Would you like me to help you?'
  • He offered to help me.
'Can you hold this for me, please?'
  • She asked me to hold it.
'Why don't we check with Joel?'
  • She suggested checking with Joel.

Do this exercise to test your grammar again.

Grammar test 2

Grammar B1-B2: Reported speech 2: 2

Language level

Average: 4.6 (41 votes)
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Hello Rsb,

The sentence is grammatically correct. It treats the action of closing as something that the gate is capable of doing (rather than a person). You might use this when you are talking about an automated gate, for example, or a gate whose operator you cannot see.



The LearnEnglish Team

Sir Is it grammatically correct? Gates are closing. Or Gates are getting closed.
Profile picture for user Kirk Moore

Submitted by Kirk Moore on Thu, 11/06/2020 - 14:42

In reply to by Rsb


Hello Rsb

The first one is better, though in many cases you'd also need to use 'the': 'The gates are closing'.

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Rsb on Fri, 12/06/2020 - 16:14

In reply to by Kirk Moore

Right sir! "I have finished the contract" here I put my physical effort to finish the contract. Hence, finish is an action verb. "The contract has finished" here what kind a verb is finish ??

Hello Rsb,

Finish is an ergative or labile verb, which means a verb which can be both transitive (requiring an objet) and intransitive (having no object). In this sentence it is intransitive. It is a past participle which is part of a present perfect form with the auxiliary has.



The LearnEnglish Team

Sir, I understood it. But I am confused about an action verb ? In both sentences is there any action going on by the subject??
Profile picture for user Peter M.

Submitted by Peter M. on Sun, 14/06/2020 - 07:07

In reply to by Rsb


Hello again Rsb,

The present perfect here describes an action in the past with a present result. The verb is dynamic and could be used in a continuous form, for example:

The gate is closing

The gate has been closing for ten minutes. It's very slow!


The same thing is true with the verb finish:

The contract is finishing soon.

The tax year is ending this week, so we'll have to hurry with the accounts.



The LearnEnglish Team

Sir, Are these below sentences a part of quasi active voice as here subject is non living things. The gate is closing. The gate has been closing for ten minutes. The contract is finishing soon. The tax year is ending this week..