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Reported Speech



Reported speech tells what a person said or thought or told another person.



Dave speaks to Bob. Dave says, "I am hungry."

Later, Bob speaks to Mary about Dave. Bob says, "Dave said that he was hungry."


Reported speech --

  • uses reporting verbs (say, tell, ask) to explain what a person said at an earlier time.
  • has the structure: reporting verb + that (can be omitted) + statement.
  • changes the verb in the reported sentence to "more past" when the speaker is reporting something from the past (see Examples).
    • (Yesterday) Dave: "I am tired."
    • (Today) Bob: "Dave said that he was tired yesterday."
  • does not change verb tense if the reported sentence is connected to the present.
    • Dave: "Vancouver is a pretty city."
    • Bob: "Dave says that Vancouver is a pretty city."
  • uses pronouns to refer to the original speaker.
    • Dave: "I am tired."
    • Bob: "Dave said that he was tired."
  • uses the reporting verb "ask" to report a yes / no question: ask + if + statement. NOTE: Use "if" in yes / no questions.
    • Dave: "Bob, can I use your car?"
    • Bob: "Dave asked if he could use my car."
  • uses the reporting verb "ask" to report an information question: subject + asked + wh- word + object + statement
    • Dave: "Bob, where do you work?"
    • Bob: "Dave asked where I work."

Related Sections

Past Perfect