You are here

Reporting verbs with 'that', 'wh-' and 'if' clauses


Level: intermediate

Reporting verbs with that clauses

When we want to report what people say or think, we can use a reporting verb and a clause with that:

He said that I had to see a doctor.
I thought that he was being silly

We can leave out the word that:

He said I had to see a doctor.
I thought he was being silly.

These verbs have the pattern:

Noun + Verb + (that) + Clause

With some verbs, we can mention the hearer as the object of the verb:

She reminded him that it was time to go.
He told me he was a friend of yours.

These verbs have the pattern:

Noun + Verb + Noun + (that) + Clause

Reporting verbs with wh- and if clauses

Some reporting verbs introduce a wh- clause or an if clause:

She explained what we had to do.
I didn't know where to go.

He asked if I was ready.
I wonder if they're at home.

These verbs have the pattern:

Noun + Verb + wh- word + Clause


Noun + Verb + if + Clause

With some verbs, we can mention the hearer as the object of the verb:

He told me what I had to do.
He asked them if they were ready.

These verbs have the pattern:

Noun + Verb + Noun + wh- word + Clause


Noun + Verb + Noun + if + Clause

Reporting verbs 1


Reporting verbs 2



Could you please help me? We are studying the subjunctive but we face different forms and explanations about it. I am confused about some sentences.
Is the following sentence correct or we have to change "are wearing", if so what form or forms we can change it to?
It was cold outside so my mother recommended that we are wearing coats.
Thank you so much

Hello Ahmed Imam

As you suspected, that sentence is not idiomatic. I'd suggest 'that we wear' (or perhaps 'that we should wear', though I prefer the former) instead.

All the best


The LearnEnglish Team

“Why don’t we have a picnic?” I said. (Direct speech)
I suggested that we (had - have) a picnic. (Reported)
I know that " have" is the correct subjunctive but some say that "had" is also correct.
Please, tell me the difference in detail.
Thank you

Hello Ahmed Imam,

Suggest has more than one meaning. In my examples below I will change 'we' to 'they' for clarity, since certain meanings (speculation and uncertainty past events, for example) are hard to express about yourself.


When we want to make a proposal, we usually use the present subjunctive:

I suggested that they have a picnic.

[Why don't you have a picnic?]


It is possible to use the past form. However, there is some ambiguity as to the the meaning of 'suggest'. It may have the same meaning as in the first example, but it can also meanssomething like 'offer an explanation':

I suggested that we had a picnic.

[Why don't you have a picnic?]


[My explanation was that they must have had a picnic]


I hope that helps to clarify it for you.



The LearnEnglish Team


in youtube, I've seen a video about reported speech that the teacher said: "Reported speech usually only used for writing. So we don’t really have to worry about all these crazy rules when we speak "

is it right? it's not necessary to use it when we speak? and how about international test exam such as IETL in speaking part?

Thank in advance

Hi ihsan_qwerty,

There is no reason reported speech cannot be used in conversation. It depends entirely on what you are talking about and what you want to say.

YouTube is not an accredited school by any means. Remember that anyone can create a video and put it on the site, and make any claims they wish.



The LearnEnglish Team

In the sentence "He said that I had to see a doctor". "I" mean him or mean the reporter?
I concern about direct and indirect report.
Like I understood that he had to see a doctor or I myself had to see a doctor?
Thank you for your help!

Hello Nam Phan,

In this sentence the pronoun 'I' refers to the person who is reporting the words. To make it clearer, compare these two alternatives:

Paul said that I had to see a doctor. [The person telling us this is sick]

Paul said that he had to see a doctor. [Paul is sick]


Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Yes, you are right: I realised I didn't put an "s" as soon as I sent the message... Sorry!
Thank u very much Peter. Yr explanation has been most useful!

Hi there, I've found the following sentence in a book I'm reading: She had suggested that we leave the train--- is it correct? Wouldn't be better "She had suggested that we left the train--- ?
In an English grammar book I see that the sentence "The minister proposed regular meeting for the committee" can be changed in "The minister proposed that the committee should meet regularly", using the word "meet'. Would it also be right if I used "meet" as it follows: "The minister proposed the committee to meet regularly"? Thank you very much for yr help.