Easiest Learning Method to Master Reported Speech or Indirect Speech

Reporting or Direct to Indirect Speech

Why do we need reported speech?

We may have to report to another person what someone said.  When we gossip about what someone said, we need reported speech.  If a friend asks, "What did he just say?", we need reported speech to answer her.

For example, change the following into reported speech:

"I am very happy  today," Tim said


Ans:  Tim said that he was very happy that day


What are the three changes in reported speech?

1) Tense change

If the reporting verb (highlighted in yellow) is in the present, there is no tense change.  But most often it is in the past.  Then you have to change the tense of the sentence in the following way.

Direct Speech Reported Speech
Simple Present>Simple Past
Present Continuous>Past Continuous
Present Perfect>Past Perfect
Present Perfect Continuous>Past Perfect Continuous
Simple Past>Past Perfect
Past Continuous>Past Perfect Continuous
Past Perfect>Past Perfect (No change)
Past Perfect Continuous>No change
Future Simple>Change will/shall to would/should
Future Continuous>Change will/shall to would/should
Future Perfect>Change will/shall to would/should
Future Perfect Continuous>Change will/shall to would/should

2) Pronoun change

Depending on the speaker and the situation, pronouns (highlighted in purple in the above example) change.

Examples of pronouns are

Personal pronouns
    you (singular and plural)
Objective pronouns
    you (singular and plural)
Possessive pronouns
    yours (singular and plural)
Reflexive pronouns  

3) Change in indicators (time and place references)

Direct Speech Reported Speech
today>that day
yesterday>the day before
tomorrow>the next/following day
day before yesterday>two days before
day after tomorrow>in two days time / two days later
next week/month/year etc.>the following week/month/year etc.
last week/month/year etc.>the previous week/month/year etc.
last night>the night before / the previous night

How are statements reported?

Use reporting verbs said, or told(if there is an object - him/her etc). 

Eg: "I am a serious investor" Susan said.

Ans:  Susan said that she was a serious investor.

How are Questions reported?

Wh Questions 

    Use reporting verbs like asked, enquired,  requested, wanted to know etc. depending on the situation.

    Change question word order to statement word order (Subject before verb).

    Direct Speech: "Where is the library?" Mary asked.
    Reported Speech: Mary asked where the library was.

Yes/No Questions

    Use whether or if

    Use statement word order (Subject before verb)

    Direct Speech: "Did you finish your homework?" Tom asked.
    Reported Speech: Tom asked if he had finished his homework.

How are Imperatives reported?

Imperatives are commands or requests.

Use reporting verbs like asked, told, ordered, requested, advised, urged etc

Use 'to' before the command or request.

Direct Speech: "Keep silence" Teacher said.
Reported Speech: Teacher asked us to keep silence.

(after 'to' use only the base form of the verb - never past or past participle)

How are Exclamatory sentences reported?

Use reporting verbs like exclaimed or  exclaimed with surprise/regret/contempt/sorrow etc. 

Change the sentence in to a statement.

Direct Speech: "What a beautiful sunset!" exclaimed Jack.
Reported Speech: Jack exclaimed that the sunset was beautiful.

Note the following points as well:

Do not use quotation marks in reported speech.

Do not use question marks and exclamation marks in reported speech.


If someone said "Yes" or "No"

You can report it as, 

He answered in the affirmative.


He answered in the negative.

Test your mastery of reported speech here.

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