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 (50 votes)

Submitted by Dominik992 on Fri, 16/02/2024 - 08:20


Would you consider the following structure to be reported speech?

The original sentence went as follows:

- After the procedure the doctors confirmed it was the right thing to have done.

Why am I asking? As far as I know the top notch phrasing should go like this:

- After the procedure the doctors confirmed it HAD BEEN the right thing to have done.

I think so because at that time the doctors must have said something like:

- Doctors confirming after the procedure - It was the right thing to have done, Dominik.

Would you be so kind to comment on this one, please :)

Hello Dominik992,

The version that you propose is correct, and, as you mention, is what is taught as best practice in most grammars.

The other version is also fine, however. Especially in more informal speaking and writing, we often use a past simple form when a past perfect form doesn't add any additional or important meaning.

Best wishes,
LearnEnglish team

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Submitted by GabDip on Wed, 24/01/2024 - 00:40


I would like to know whether this two sentences are correct. I think they are both correct, but I am not sure.

"He apologized for letting me down."
"He apologized for having let me down"

Thank you in advance!

Hello GabDip,

Yes, both sentences are correct. There is a slight difference in meaning:

Sentence 1 (for letting) could be about a particular situation or it could be about his general habit of being unreliable.

Sentence 2 (for having let) describes an issue in the past which is not true any more.



The LearnEnglish Team

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.