Patterns with reporting verbs

C1 grammar: Patterns with reporting verbs

Do you know how to use reporting verbs in a sentence? Test what you know with interactive exercises and read the explanation to help you.

Look at these examples to see how we use reporting verbs.

Harper reminds us that human rights are the priority.
Smith suggests introducing small changes at first.
Brown warns governments not to ignore ordinary people.

Try this exercise to test your grammar.

Grammar test 1


Read the explanation to learn more.

Grammar explanation

When we tell someone what another person said, we often use the reporting verbs say, tell and ask. However, we can also use other verbs to more accurately report what the speaker has said. 

Each reporting verb requires a different pattern after it, and more than one pattern is possible after some verbs.

Verb + infinitive

When some verbs are immediately followed by another verb, the second verb is in infinitive form.

They refuse to accept responsibility for the accident.
He promised not to share our personal information.

Verbs in this group include agree, claim, demand, offer, promise, refuse and threaten.

Verb + object + infinitive

Some verbs that are followed by the infinitive need an object between the reporting verb and the infinitive. 

The judge ordered the police to release the individual immediately.
Ferguson warns governments not to delay any further.

Verbs in this group include advise, ask, encourage, invite, order, remind, tell, urge and warn.

Verb + -ing 

When certain verbs are immediately followed by another verb, the second verb has to be in -ing form. 

She recommends waiting for the refund.
Computer scientists admit not knowing where the faulty data came from.

Verbs in this group include admit, deny, mention, recommend and suggest

Verb + preposition + -ing 

Note that when verbs with dependent prepositions are followed by another verb, we always use the -ing form. 

Employees complain about receiving important information too late.
Two organisations apologised for not being present.

Verbs in this group include apologise for, complain about, confess to, insist on and object to

This structure is also used with warn when it is followed by the preposition against, and admit when it is followed by the preposition to.

Novak warns against moving too fast.
They'll never admit to not knowing the answer.

Verb + object + preposition + -ing

Some verbs that are followed by the -ing form need an object between the reporting verb and the preposition.

O'Reilly accused the government of lying about the issue.
Parents blame schools for not doing enough to tackle bullying.

Verbs in this group include accuse (someone of), blame (someone for), and congratulate (someone on).

Verb + that + subjunctive

Some reporting verbs can also be followed by that + the base form of the verb. The verb in this part of the sentence is in the subjunctive and has no tense.

We suggest that she read the documents carefully before signing.
Steiner demanded that the government investigate the issue.

Reporting verbs can be followed by the subjunctive when they express something that is wanted. These verbs include advise, ask, command, demand, insist, order, propose, recommend, request, suggest and urge.

Verb + that + indicative

When reporting verbs do not relate to a desire, they can be followed by a that clause in a variety of tenses, and the subjunctive is not necessary.

Customers complained that they had not been kept informed.
Experts admit that it will take a long time to develop a solution.
Sengupta agrees that we need a better system.

Verbs in this group include admit, advise, agree, claim, complain, decide, deny, explain, insist, promise, recommend and say.

Verb + object + that clause

With verbs like assure, persuade, remind, tell and warn, we put the object after the reporting verb and before the that clause.

She assured us that they would fully investigate the situation.
Gairola warned ministers that the situation was critical.

Grammar test 2


Language level

Average: 4 (11 votes)
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