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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



Can i use wh -clause after preposition. ?
E.g Tell me about where you live .
It depens on how much there traffic is.

Hello khitnay,

Yes, it is possible for a wh-clause to be the object of a preposition. There's an example in milad999's comment on our wh-clauses page, plus an explanation of it in Peter's answer just below.

Both of your example sentences are also good examples (and are correct).

All the best,
The LearnEnglish Team

Thank You Mr.Kirk for clarifying the points I raised in this forum.Actually these doubts were lingering in my mind for so long without getting a clear and precise answer. In my opinion (as a foreign learner of English language) prepositions and verbs used transitively and intransitively are the most difficult to master. I follow three Advanced learner's dictionaries ,Oxford,Longman and Collins Cobuild. Among the three dictionaries I have mentioned Oxford Advanced Learners dictionary gives grammatical patterns such as "somebody something" for example - give somebody something or "something to somebody" for example - give something to somebody. In such verbs if "somebody something" pattern is not given is it possible make meaningful sentences by using those verbs succeeded by the preposition 'to' when the object of the verb is a person. For example finally I revealed to her the truth.Almost similar issue was answered in one of my earlier postings, however I have been persisting with it just to reinforce my understanding.
With regards
Syam kumar

Hello language experts
Is it correct to surmise that transitive verbs take a direct object,without preceded by a preposition,for example I enjoyed the dinner or I advised him to be punctual and intransitive verbs take an object preceded by a preposition,for example he consented to our proposal, I opted for a short break or she stared at me. Secondly is it possible to use a transitive verb without an object/noun to form a meaningful sentence and is it possible to use a intransitive without an object preceded by a preposition to form a meaningful sentence ,for example- finally he relented or water receded or she smiled. Is my comprehension about transitive verbs and intransitive verbs correct?

Hello Syam,

That's an interesting idea, but I'm afraid that the presence of absence of a preposition or other particle after a verb is not a reliable indication of whether it is transitive or intransitive. If you look at a dictionary of phrasal verbs, all of which are a verb + some kind of particle, you'll see they are both transitive and intransitive. A verb or phrasal verb is transitive or intransitive depending on how it is used, which is simply a convention. This means that there is no way to tell which kind of verb it is simply by examining its form.

As for your second question, normally transitive verbs must always have an object. There are probably some exceptions to this, but in general they always need an object. Intransitive verbs don't take an object, so it's of course normal to use them without one, as in the examples you wrote.

I hope this helps clarify things a bit for you.

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

Is it grammatically correct say - I disclose to her the secret and I divulge to him the news.

Hello Syam,

Yes, that is grammatically correct, though it sounds a bit unnatural due to the word order. More often it would be 'I disclosed the secret to her and divulged the news to him' or in a neutral or informal situation simply 'I told her the secret and told him the news'.

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

hi guiys, i'm driving mad whit subjunctive.
i've a couple o f questions, i hope you can help me.

i noticed these sentence recently:1)she proposed that the board of directors replace the CFO,
2) i suggested we move quickly, but i would have say : she proposed that the board of directors replaced the CFO , i suggested we moved quickly; what's the difference? replace and move are base form without to? aren't they?

as well i perform this one;) have you ever thought you have changed job?.is ti right?

Hello rosario70,

replace and move are the correct forms for those two sentences because subjunctive forms in English are equivalent to the base form, and, as you noticed, do not change for time, i.e. -ed is not added to the end. The BBC has an old page that discusses the subjunctive that you might find useful.

I'm afraid I'm not sure what you mean in your last sentence. Perhaps 'Have you every thought about changing jobs?'?

Best wishes,
The LearnEnglish Team

Hi, sorry if I asked here, but I'm a little bit confused.
What's the difference between : it has been said and it's being said ?
Thank you very much from now