Reported speech: reporting verbs

Reported speech: reporting verbs

Do you know how to tell someone what another person said using reporting verbs? Test what you know with interactive exercises and read the explanation to help you.

Look at these examples to see how reporting verbs are used.

direct speech: 'You should come, it's going to be a lot of fun,' she said.
indirect speech: She persuaded me to come.

direct speech: 'Wait here,' he said.
indirect speech: He told us to wait there.

direct speech: 'It wasn't me who finished the coffee,' he said.
indirect speech: He denied finishing the coffee.

Try this exercise to test your grammar.

Grammar test 1

Reported speech 3 – reporting verbs: 1

Grammar explanation

When we tell someone what another person said, we often use the verbs say, tell or ask. These are called 'reporting verbs'. However, we can also use other reporting verbs. Many reporting verbs can be followed by another verb in either an infinitive or an -ing form. 

Reporting verb + infinitive

Verbs like advise, agree, challenge, claim, decide, demand, encourage, invite, offer, persuade, promise, refuse and remind can follow an infinitive pattern.

'Let's see. I'll have the risotto, please.'
  • He decided to have the risotto.
'I'll do the report by Friday, for sure.'
  • She promised to do the report by Friday.
'It's not a good idea to write your passwords down.'
  • They advised us not to write our passwords down.

We can also use an infinitive to report imperatives, with a reporting verb like tell, order, instruct, direct or warn.

'Please wait for me in reception.'
  • The guide told us to wait for her in reception.
'Don't go in there!'
  • The police officer warned us not to go in there.

Reporting verb + -ing form

Verbs like admit, apologise for, complain about, deny, insist on, mention and suggest can follow an -ing form pattern.

'I broke the window.'
  • She admitted breaking the window.
'I'm really sorry I didn't get back to you sooner.'
  • He apologised for not getting back to me sooner.
'Let's take a break.'
  • She suggested taking a break.

Do this exercise to test your grammar again.

Grammar test 2

Reported speech 3 – reporting verbs: 2

Language level

Average: 4 (35 votes)

Submitted by facundo62 on Sun, 24/09/2023 - 16:59


Hello, i have 2 questions, firstly is the same use advise with verb + object + infinitive that use it with + gerund, it changes the meaning or no? secondly, when we use warn + object + infinitive it has the same meaning that warn somebody against?

Hi facundo62,

For advise, the meaning is the same with those two structures. For example:

  • I'd advise resting as much as you can.
  • I'd advise you to rest as much as you can.

However, the structure advise + -ing form is less commonly used than the advise + object + to + infinitive structure. 

About warn, the two structures you mentioned do also have the same meaning. But just to be clear, it's warn + object + not + to + infinitive that has that meaning. For example:

  • The doctor warned me not to eat too much.
  • The doctor warned me against eating too much.

I hope that helps.


LearnEnglish team

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Submitted by oyo on Fri, 22/09/2023 - 14:02


what is the diffrence beetween he suggested to ask andi for some ideas and he suggested asking andi for ideas

Hi oyo,

"He suggested to ask ..." is not grammatically correct. 

The verb "suggest" is followed by either:

  • an -ing verb form --> He suggested asking ... OR
  • that clause --> He suggested that we ask ...

"Suggest" is not in the group of verbs that is followed by an infinitive (to + verb).

I hope that helps.


LearnEnglish team

Submitted by Paul Devening on Fri, 08/09/2023 - 12:02


Why can't we say "Katie suggested us going for a walk" but instead should say "KATIE SUGGESTED THAT WE GO FOR A WALK" whilst "The man warned us not to park in this street" is correct. It's unclear why "She suggested us" isn't correct but "The man warned us...." is.

Hi Paul Devening,

It's simply because different verbs have different grammatical patterns, and not all patterns are available for every verb.

That said, some verbs can be grouped together according to their meaning. For example, warn and some other verbs (see the page above) can be used to report imperatives, as in your parking example, by using the pattern verb + object + (not) to + infinitive. Suggest is not in this category because the meaning does not fit - a suggestion is not an imperative.


LearnEnglish team

Submitted by Himansana on Fri, 05/05/2023 - 08:59


I am finding a comprehensive analysis for reporting "if conditionals" since I saw some exceptional rules in some books which are clashing with each other. Can someone explain this to me?

Hello Himansana,

We're happy to help you with specific questions, but I'm afraid we don't write comprehensive analyses in the comments. We are a small team with lots of other work to keep on top of!

But please do feel free to ask us specific questions about specific sentences.

All the best,
LearnEnglish team

Submitted by RAMZANJANI on Fri, 24/03/2023 - 15:06


please explain direct speech. what would be answer?
He has said,'' They are waiting outside."