Reported Speech

Reported speech is related to the grammar of reporting what someone else said. In this lesson, you will learn all about it.

What Is Reported Speech in English?

What Is Reported Speech?

Reported speech involves three participants. One says something and the other one delivers their speech to a third person.

Reported Speech: Uses

When we want to repeat what somebody else said, we use reported speech. Take a look at these examples for more clarification:

She asked if I was invited to the party or not.

Her friend said, "my car is fancy and expensive"

Reported Speech: Types

There are two types of reported speech in English:

Direct Speech

an example of direct speech

Direct speech is to repeat somebody else's exact words. In written style, the quote is placed between quotation marks (" "). Remember not to change any of the declared words. For example:

She said, "I love you Jimmy."

"They will always be in my life." Hanna shouted

Direct Speech: Structure

Direct reported speech has two parts. The first part contains a reporting verb that is usually in the past simple tense, but it can be in other tenses too. The second part is the exact words of the person whose speech is being reported.

"I am not alone." Sam cried.

Panni said, "My mother is a doctor."

Indirect Speech

If we narrate someone's speech indirectly with our own words and not using the exact words of the speaker, then we are using indirect speech. For example:

She said that she had been in Tokyo.

My dad said he was going to sell the car.

Indirect Speech: Structure

To make indirect speech, we use a reporting verb which can be followed by that, and then a reported indirect speech which has been derived from the direct speech using backshift. Pay attention to the examples:

They declared that they would be there for me.

In this example the direct speech is "We will be there for you."

My sister said she could have finish the project if I had asked.

What Is Backshift?

To form reported speech, the tense and formation of some words, adverbs, and verbs undergo changes. This is called backshift. Check out the table below to see common forms of backshift:

Here are the common forms of modal backshift:

direct indirect
shall would
shall would or should
can could
may might or could
must had to or no change

What Are Reporting Verbs?

Reporting verbs are numerous in English grammar, but here are the most common ones:

  • say
  • tell
  • add
  • declare
  • admit
  • answer
  • ask
  • cry


As its name requires reported speech is used to report a dialogue. There are two kinds of reporting in English.

  • indirect speech
  • direct speech


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Reported Speech: Direct Speech

Mainly, there are two types of reported speech: direct speech and indirect speech. In this lesson, we will focus on the first type: how to use direct speech.

Reported Speech: Indirect Speech

There are two main types of reported speech: direct speech and indirect speech. In this lesson, we will learn about how to use indirect speech in English.

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Inversion and fronting occur when we invert the normal sentence order. In this lesson, we will study these two grammatical structure.

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