Reported Speech 1


Reported Speech: 1
Reported Speech Basics

When you report something that was said or written you usually 'go back in time' one step.
So the future becomes the present.
The present becomes the past.
And the past becomes the 'double' past, the Past Perfect.
  • "I will come at 8."
    • He said that he is coming at 8. (Future to Present, past also possible AND would!).
  • "I am hungry."
    • She said that she was hungry. (Present to Past)
  • "They are reading."
    • I said they were reading. (Present Continuous to Past Continuous)
  • "Everyone ate their dinner."
    • He said everyone had eaten their dinner. (Past to Past Perfect)
  • "She had met him before."
    • They told me she had him before. (Past Perfect doesn't change).
The use of THAT is optional.
  • He said (that) he is going on holiday tomorrow.
  • We told him (that) you were angry.
When a situation/perspective is still true it is optional to change tense.
However, changing a tense is always fine if you are in doubt.
  • "Rome is the capital of Italy."
    • The man told us that Rome is/was the capital of Italy.
    • The situation (fact) is still true.
  • "I am cooking lasagna tonight."
    • She said she is/was cooking lasagna tonight.
    • The perspective (future plans for tonight) is still true.
However if we don't believe the speaker we almost always change the tense.
  • "Milan is the capital of Italy."
    • The man told us that Rome was the capital of Italy.
    • What he said and what IS true are different (according to me).
  • "I am cooking lasagna tonight."
    • She said she was cooking lasagna tonight.
    • But I don't believe her.
Change CAN to COULD and WILL to WOULD, change MAY to MIGHT.
  • "I can swim."
    • She said that she could swim.
  • "They will be late."
    • We said they would be late.
  • "We may not have a lesson."
    • They told me that they might not have a lesson.
Pronouns will often need to be changed when reporting speech.
  • "I have lost my keys."
    • He said he had lost his keys.
  • "We will give it to you."
    • They said they would give it to me.
Words that refer to time in a relative way need to change if they are no longer true.
For example, today, tomorrow, later, next week, this Saturday, etc.
  • "We are working tomorrow." (said last week)
    • They said they were working the next day.
  • "I am meeting him this Saturday." (said a month ago)
    • She told me she was meeting him that Saturday.
Note the difference between Say and Tell.
Put a personal direct object or person's name after TELL.
  • Don't tell me what to do! (You tell someone something.)
  • She told Mary about the problem. (You tell someone something.)
Don't put a personal direct object after SAY.
  • She said she was hungry. (You say something.)
  • I said the time but it was wrong. (You say something.)