Reported Speech for intermediate learners

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

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What Is Reported Speech in English?

What Is Reported Speech?

When we want to report or deliver what someone has said to a third party, we use reported speech. We will learn all about it in this lesson.

Types

We can report speech in two ways:

Direct Speech

When we want to report the exact, same words of someone to a third party, we are reporting it directly. Remember to put the whole clause/clauses in quotation marks. Take a look at the following examples:

They said "See you later!".

"To hell with you!" Maria shouted.

Uses

Since we want to deliver the same words somebody said to another person, the reported speech does not change. However, the sentence that comes after or before it, is usually in the past tense. Study the following examples:

"I don't want you anymore." I voiced.

"Why can't she come right now?" My mom yelled.

Indirect Speech

When we want to report a speech indirectly, we use our own words to do it. So, the tenses change. Study the following examples carefully:

Chiara told me they were going on a trip to Italy.

The director said we could move the chairs around.

Uses

Backshift

One important thing we must do when we want to report speech indirectly is to change the tense of the reported speech. In other words, If the sentence is in the simple present tense, it changes to simple past and so it goes on. Take a look at the table below:

Direct Speech Indirect Speech
Simple Present Simple Past
Present Continuous Past Continuous

Now, let us see how they are used in sentences:

"I want to go to the movies". → She said she wanted to go to the movies.

As you can see, the sentence has been back shifted into simple past tense.

"We are cleaning the house today." → They said they were cleaning the house today.

Reporting Verbs

In English, we have some reporting verbs that are used to deliver a speech, either directly or indirectly to a third party. Take a look at the following list to get a glimpse of them:

  • Voice
  • Declare
  • Tell
  • Say
  • Answer
  • Shout
  • Cry

Now let us see some examples with them:

She cried "I cannot believe I ever trusted you!"

My friend asked whether I was busy today or not.

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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.

Inversion and Fronting

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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