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Teaching Reported Speech

Updated on March 15, 2015

Teaching Reported Speech


What is reported speech?

We use it to report what a person said. It doesn't have to be the exact words, but rather the general meaning. There are a few things that change when reporting what a person said - the verb tenses, the personal pronouns and the time expressions.


Direct Speech - Carla said, “Don’t put the cooked meat next to the raw meat.”

Reported Speech – She told me not to put the cooked meat next to the raw meat.

Direct Speech
Present Simple - I am not hungry
Past Simple - Bob said that he wasn't hungry
Present Continuous - I’m going to the market
Past Continuous - Bob said that he was going to the market
Present Perfect - I haven’t seen your keys
Past Perfect Bob said that he hadn’t seen my keys
Present Perfect Continuous - We’ve been watching that series for years
Past Perfect Continuous - Bob said that they had been watching that series for years
Past Simple - Did you go to the shop?
Past Perfect - Bob asked me if I had gone to the shop
Past Continuous - They were talking
Past Perfect Continuous - Bob told me they had been talking
Past Perfect - She had already left the library
Past Perfect - Bob said that she had already left the library
Past Perfect Continuous - We hadn’t been drinking
Past Perfect Continuous - Bob said that they hadn’t been drinking
Will - Will you meet me tonight?
Would - Bob asked me if I would meet him that night
Can - I can’t reach it
Could - Bob said he couldn’t reach it

Reported Speech


Changing Time Expressions

Today – That day

  • Direct speech – “I feel awful today,” Phil groaned.
  • Reported speech – He told me that he felt awful that day.

Tomorrow – The next day

  • Direct speech – “I’ll see you tomorrow,” Sandy said.
  • Reported speech – She said she would see me the next day

Yesterday – The day before

  • Direct speech – “We were here yesterday,” they said.
  • Reported speech – They said that they had been here the day before.

Next week – The following week

  • Direct speech – Brian said, “I can arrange the meeting next week.”
  • Reported speech – He said that he could arrange the meeting the following week.

Last week – The previous week

  • Direct speech – We went shopping last week,” said the couple.
  • Reported speech – They said that they had gone shopping the previous week.

This week – That week

  • Direct speech – “Are you doing yoga this week?” asked Sarah.
  • Reported speech – She asked whether I was doing yoga that week.

Changing the personal pronouns

When reporting what someone said you often change the subject.


“I can’t go camping.”

John said (that) he couldn’t go camping.

Mom and Dad said, “We want tea.”

They said they wanted tea.

Said or Told?

You can use either to report what someone said, but remember that the verb Tell needs an object.


  • She told me not to raise my voice.
  • She said not to raise my voice.

  • He told me to watch out.
  • He said to watch out.

You can also use verbs like Answer, Mention, Explain, Reply, Think and Announce to report speech.

‘That’ can be used or omitted when reporting, e.g., She knew (that) he was getting restless.

© 2014 Muttface


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    • SEEMA AQUA profile image


      4 years ago

      yeah me Pakistani and good

      thanks for sharing..


    • Will Lake profile image

      William Lake 

      4 years ago from Siem Reap, Cambodia

      Well written and very helpful for English learners!


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