One of the most common mistakes when becoming familiar with this type of grammar is not knowing the difference between direct speech and reported speech and the changes related to these types of sentences.
The reported speech reproduces the words of another person by adapting certain temporal and local references of the original speech to the situation of the speaker, for example, personal pronouns, demonstratives, verb tenses, and adverbs of place or time.
It is characterized by introducing the message that is reproduced with a speaking verb followed by conjunctions that or if. The speaking verb reveals the intention of the speaker to convey what another person has said.
The most frequent speaking verbs are: say, affirm, count, explain, ask, warn, suggest, order, etc.
Direct Speech vs. Reported Speech
Both are the two different ways to transmit what someone has said.
With direct speech, the message is reproduced as we have heard it, in quotes and after a color meanwhile with reported speech the message is reproduced with our words, without commas but using that or if after the verb.
Different Types of Sentences
- Reported statements: use that before the statement and the reporting verb said or told.
- Reported questions: use reported verbs like asked, requested, or wanted to know and omit the question mark. Remember that the order in reported questions changes. In the case of yes-no questions use whether or if.
- Reported requests or commands: use to or not to before the sentence and use verbs like asked, told, ordered, urged, advised, and begged.
Changes When Using Reported Speech
Tense Changes in Reported Speech
In short, the tense changes in the reported speech are made taking into account the verb in the direct speech. The tense changes are:
- Simple present -> simple past
- Present continuous -> past continuous
- Simple past -> past perfect simple
- Past continuous -> past perfect continuous
- Past perfect simple -> past perfect simple
- Past perfect continuous -> past perfect continuous
- Present perfect -> past perfect simple
- Present perfect continuous -> past perfect continuous
- Future simple -> would
- Future perfect -> would have
- Present passive -> past passive
- Present passive continuous -> past passive continuous
- Can -> could/would be able to
- May -> might
- May -> could/ would be allowed to
- Must -> must/ had to/ would have to
- Needn’t -> didn’t have to /didn’t need to /wouldn’t have to
- Shall -> would/should
- Will -> would
Place, Demonstratives, and Time Expressions
- Here -> there
- There -> there
- This -> that
- Today -> that day
- Tomorrow -> the next day/ the following day
- Now -> at that moment/ then
- At the present -> At the time
- Present, current -> existing current
- In one hour -> one hour later
- Next year -> the following year
- Days ago -> days before
- Tonight -> that night
- In two week’s time -> two weeks later
- Ago -> before
Pronouns and Demonstratives
- I -> he, she
- Me -> him, her
- My -> his, her, the
- Mine -> his, hers
- We -> they
- Us -> them
- Our -> their, the
- Ours -> theirs
- You -> they, them, their, the
- Yours -> theirs
- This -> that, the
- These -> those, the
- This book -> that book
Reported Speech | Infographic
Tense Changes in Reported Speech
Other Changes in Reported Speech