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Grammar : Reported speech

In order to give information about what people say or think we use direct speech, or reported speech.

Direct speech / Quoted speech :

Repeating what someone has said is called direct speech ( sometimes called quoted speech).

Examples : 

  • She said, ” today’s lesson is on reported speech.”


  • “Today’s lesson is on reported speech”, she said.


Indirect speech / Reported speech :

Indirect speech ( sometimes called reported speech), doesn’t use quotation marks to repeat what the person said and it doesn’t have to be told word for word.

In reported speech the tense usually changes because when we use reported speech, we are usually talking about a time in the past ( the person spoke in the past). So the verbs usually have to be in the past too.

Examples : 

  • Direct speech : “I’m going home“, he said.
  • Indirect speech : He said he was going home.


Tense change :

Direct speech Indirect speech

Present simple

She said, “it’s cold”.

Past simple

she said it was cold.

Present continuous

she said, “I’m working”.

Past continuous

She said she was working.

Present perfect simple

She said, “I’ve been a teacher since 2007”.

Past perfect simple

She said she had been a teacher since 2007.

Present perfect continuous

She said, “I’ve been teaching french for 15 years”.

Past perfect continuous

She said she had been teaching french for 15 years.

Past simple

She said, “I taught reported speech”.

Past perfect

She said she had taught reported speech.

Past continuous

She said, “I was teaching little children”.

Past perfect continuous

She said she had been teaching little children.

Past perfect 

She said, “The lesson had already started when he arrived”

Past perfect

NO CHANGE- She said the lesson had already started when he arrived.

Past perfect continuous

She said, “I’d already been teaching for 2 hours”

Past perfect continuous

NO CHANGE- She said she’d already been teaching for 2 hours.

Modal verb forms also sometimes change :

Direct speech Indirect speech


She said, “I’ll teach reported speech”.


she said she would teach reported speech.


she said, “Morocco can beat France during the world cup”


She Morocco could beat France during the world cup.


She said, “I must watch the game”

Had to

She said she had to watch the game.


She said, “What shall we learn today?”


She asked what we should learn today.


She said, “May I open the window?”


She asked if she might open the window.


NOTE : There is no change to could, would, should, might and ought to.

Direct speech : “I might to to the cinema”, she said

Indirect speech : He said he might go to the cinema.


You can use the present tense in reported speech if you want to say that something is still true.

i.e : My name has always been and will always be Youssef.

Time change

If the reported sentence contains an expression of time, you must change it to fit in with the time of reporting the words said.

Example : 

We need to change words like here and yesterday if they have different meanings at the time and place of reporting that speech.

Now 24 hours, indirect speech
“Today’s lesson in on vocabulary” She said yesterday’s lesson was on vocabulary

Expressions of time change if reported on a different day :


Direct Indirect
 This ( dog )  that ( dog)
 Today  Yesterday/ That day
 These ( days)  Those ( days )
 Now  Then
 ( a week ) ago  ( a week)ِ before
 Last weekend  the weekend before/ the previous before
 Here  There
 Next ( week)  The following ( week )
 Tomorrow  The next/ Following day

Pronoun change :

In reported speech, the pronoun often changes.

Me You
“I teach maths”

 Direct speech :

” I teach Maths”, he said.

 Reported speech : 

He said he taught Maths.

Reporting verbs :

Said, told and asked are the most common verbs used  in indirect speech.

  • We use asked to report questions :
  • For example : I asked my friend what time the lesson started.
  • We use told with an object.
  • For example: My friend told me she felt tired.

We usually use said without an object :

Example :

Adiba said she was going to teach French .

If  said is used with an object we must include to.

Nadia said to me that she’d never been to Algeria.

Note : we usually use told.

Example : 

Nadia told me (that) she’d never been to Algeria.-

There are many other verbs we can use apart from said, told and asked.

These verbs include : accused, advised, agreed, apologised, begged, boasted, denied, explained, implied, invited, offered, ordered, replied, suggested,thought….

Examples : 

  • He asked me to come to the party
  • He invited me to the party
  • He begged me to come to the party
  • He advised me to come to the party

Example :

  • He told me that he lived in Madrid.
  • Hover, that is optional.
  • For example : He told me he lived in Madrid.

Note : That is never used in questions, instead we often use if or wether.

Examples : 

  • He asked me if I would come to the party
  • He asked me wether I would come to the party
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