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 (52 votes)
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Submitted by Charu on Wed, 09/12/2020 - 08:56

Hi! While changing Direct to Indirect speech, do we also change the infinitive verb in the statement? Example: "Ron wants to visit his grandparents tomorrow." Indirect: Ron wanted to visit his grandparents the following day. In the above sentence, will "to visit" remain as it is, or will it also follow the tense change rule?
Profile picture for user Jonathan R

Submitted by Jonathan R on Thu, 10/12/2020 - 02:46

In reply to by Charu


Hi Charu,

Good question! The answer is no - the infinitive verb doesn't change. Only verbs that show a tense (e.g. wants/wanted) change.

Best wishes,


The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by emmanuelniyomugabo12 on Tue, 29/09/2020 - 18:10

Thanks for the lesson. And I congratulate for your big help.
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Submitted by Rafaela1 on Sat, 29/08/2020 - 13:06

The suggested that verbs like admit, apologise for, complain about, deny, insist on, mention and suggest could follow an -ing form patter, which was new to me. Thanks for sharing. ;)

Submitted by ARANYA on Fri, 28/08/2020 - 15:37

Change of narration : Direct - He said to me, "You shall do this." which one is correct answer : Indirect - He told me that I should do that. or - He told me that I would do that.


Both options are possible, depending on the context in which the original sentence occurs.

We can use shall as an alternative to will, which would suggest would in indirect speech. However, it's possible for shall to convey strong advice, in which case should provides a closer equivalent.



The LearnEnglish Team

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Submitted by Karan Narang on Sat, 01/08/2020 - 04:42

Before I write down I am going to ask some questions let begin. can be extended for speaking to indirect or direct speech ? whether will help or not! Could you clarify these ?

Hello Karan Narang,

I'm afraid I don't understand your question. You might find it easier to learn grammar by taking it step by step, starting with the basic grammar and slowly moving up to intermediate grammar. Just studying a page and doing the exercises is a good start, but it's also essential to read and listen to materials to see how the grammar is used in the language.

You can find lots of resources that you can use for this in our Skills and General English section.

All the best,


The LearnEnglish Team

Submitted by Sofipe on Thu, 26/03/2020 - 19:50

I really like the platform, the information was very useful to me. What I studied were informative verbs with the information I learned that will be used to give statements and to report what someone said in a clear way, if someone says something it is as if they rectified it saying that person said it but already in the second person. Also the information of qualified adjectives works for me if I want to emphasize the quality of something in a very specific way.