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)

Submitted by bhutuljee on Tue, 12/12/2023 - 08:51

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He said, "I wished she had gone."

How to change this sentence into indirect speech?

Submitted by bhutuljee on Tue, 12/12/2023 - 08:49

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He said, "I wish she went."

How to change the above sentence into indirect speech?

Submitted by bhutuljee on Tue, 12/12/2023 - 08:47

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He said , "She wished John would succeed."

How to change the above sentence into indirect speech?

Hello bhutuljee,

This is the third sentence you've asked us to transform in this way. While we try to offer as much help as we can, we are not a service for giving answers to questions which may be from tests or homework so we do limit these kinds of answers. Perhaps having read the information on the page above you can try to transform the sentence yourself and we will tell you if you have done it correctly or not.

 

Peter

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello alrufai,

1) The version of the sentence you suggest is also correct. In informal situations, we often don't change the past simple into the past perfect, but in formal situations we do so more often.

2) 'can', 'may' and 'might' all become 'could' in reported questions like these: 'She asked if she could borrow some money.'

Best wishes,
Kirk
LearnEnglish team

Submitted by Dong Nghi Tu on Sat, 21/10/2023 - 08:41

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I wonder if there are any occasions we can't use "Why" for reported speech? I'm not sure for this one. Thank you

Hello Dong Nghi Tu,

Off the top of my head, I can't think of any such restrictions. Did you have anything particular in mind?

By the way, our B1-B2 Grammar section also has several pages on reported speech, e.g. Reported speech: questions, if you'd like a bit more practice.

Best wishes,
Kirk
LearnEnglish team