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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

or

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

or

Noun + Verb + Noun + if + Clause

Reporting verbs 1

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Reporting verbs 2

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Comments

Hello fantastic team
I am writing to find out more about following sentence.

"UNESCO proposed this week that the Great Barrier Reef be added to its List of World Heritage in Danger."

I felt very confused when I saw the part -be added- in 'that'clause.

Because I usually consider and see clauses like normal a sentence.
While here we have-be added-

I really want to know why
' is added' is not used here like a normal sentence.

I would be grateful if you could explain it to me.

Best wishes!

Hello Nevi,

'be added' is a subjunctive form -- more specifically a passive form in the subjunctive. In this case, the subjunctive is used to express a desire for something to be different than it actually is.

I'd refer you to the Wikipedia page on the English subjunctive to learn a bit more about this. It's a bit technical in places, but if you focus on the examples, I think it will help you make sense of it.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Hi incredible team,
I am trying to learn some verbs followed by a 'that' clause or 'if and question word'
and I want to ask something.

Which tense should I use in 'that' clause and 'if' or 'question word '?

I suppose we should apply time shifting like we apply reported speech(say,tell).
But I saw sometimes there is no time shifting.

I would be grateful if you could explain it to me.
Best wishes.

Hi Nevı,

Could you give us some example sentences with the structures you mean? That will make it easier to discuss :)

Jonathan

The LearnEnglish Team

Of course, teacher.
For example,
'I forgot I lent you that money.'
-Here tense in that clause is 'past simple'

'I forgot you speak Spanish'
-Here tense in that clause is 'present simple'

I mean can I also say
'I forgot I lend you that money or
'I forgot you spoke Spanish'

What's the difference when I make tenses in that clauses different (simple past) ?, teacher.

I would be grateful if you could explain to me.
Best wishes.

Hello Nevı,

'I forgot I lend you money' is not correct because the action of lending is an action that doesn't extend throughout time -- you lend someone something and then the action of lending is done. The item is still lent or borrowed, but the action itself is considered over in the way English sees it.

'I forgot you spoke Spanish' is correct, but so is 'I forgot you speak Spanish', and they both mean the same thing (unless the person no longer speaks Spanish). Since the ability to speak a language is more of a state than an action that begins and ends quickly (like 'lend'), then we can use the present tense to refer to that ability. But we can also use the past tense to refer to that past situation more than the person's current ability, which is why 'spoke' is also correct.

Hope this helps you make sense of it.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

Thanks for your replies about other topics!.
Teacher,I usually write all British Council Teachers's answers on my notebook so I can look them later.
However, I saw a sentence about the time shifting we discussed here and I am wondering sth.
The sentence is 'Immigrant says he spent five days on the boat'

Here also
The action of spending is an action that doesn't extend throughout time like you said so we cannot say
'... says he spends five days...'

As you said in your previous comment about the sentence above 'I forgot I lend you money' is not'correct.

I would be grateful if you check whether my interference is true.
Thank you in advance.

Hello Nevi,

In this case, 'spend' refers to the passing of time, so it is an action that extends through time, i.e. through those five days.

Does that help you make sense of it?

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

I understand what you mean, teacher. So, we can say
'Immigrant said he spends 5 days on the boat.="... he spent 5 days..."?
You'd be doing me a huge favour.

Hello Nevi,

That doesn't sound right to me unless the immigrant is talking about something they do regularly. For example, if he/she spends Monday through Friday on a boat every week, then that would work. But he/she is talking about their trip to their new country, which was one trip in the past, then 'spent' would be the correct form.

Is this perhaps a news headline? The lack of 'an' or 'the' before 'immigrant' isn't correct in most other situations. If this sentence isn't from a headline, perhaps it's from a source that just isn't grammatically correct.

All the best,

Kirk

The LearnEnglish Team

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