When do we employ reported speech? Seldom someone states a sentence, like “I’m going to the auditorium tomorrow”. Later, maybe we desire to tell another person what the first person said.

Well, not everyone is going to be polite. Sometimes, we receive orders. Now how will you report them? Unlike the request, the reporting verb isn’t asking but tells or told. Furthermore, when in orders, sometimes subjects are excluded but while reporting, we have to strengthen the subjects. Let’s see a few instances:

  • Direct speech: Stand up!
  • Reported speech: She told me to stand up.

Rules for reporting speech

To understand how reporting speech work, there are four points you should keep in mind:

Choose A Reporting Tense And Verb.

When did the speech occur? With current, repeated or new events, the reporting verb is in the present tense. “He says he is hungry, so let’s go to lunch.” A common or repeated statement is in the present tense: “Everyone says the water is safe to take.” For reporting less immediate speech, take the past tense. The reporting verb is often said, though it can also be told or other verbs like stated, ordered or reported, depending on the circumstances. When reporting questions, you can use verbs like asked or requested.

Another Rule Is To Adjust The Perspective, Or Point Of View.

That means I become she, he, or they.

  • “Clinton said ‘I ate the cake.”‘ becomes

“She said that she ate the cake.”

  • “The men said, ‘We are coming next month'” becomes

“They said they are coming next month.”

Choose Whether To Include “If or That.”

You can say, “He says he is in office” or, “He says that he is at the office.” That is a conjunction here, linking the two parts of the sentence. It is optional. Another conjunction, if, is required when reporting on a question: “She asked me if I knew how to play volleyball.”

The Last Rule Is To “Backshift” The Tense.

This is the difficult part of reported speech. When the reporting verb is in the past tense, the verb in the reported clause is in the past tense, too. The verb aspect, noting whether the action is performed, matches. Here are some instances:

  • “I am buying my ticket.” (present continuous)

He said he was buying his ticket. (past continuous)

  • Ashley: “I have fixed my bikr.” (present perfect)

He said he had fixed his bike. (past perfect)

Reporting speech in English would be easy if these rules were all learners needed to know. But as usual, there is more to learn. Let’s look at what happens with modal and questions.

Reporting On Questions

When we are reporting questions, attention must be pay to the auxiliary verb. These are words like be, do, and have. Yes or no questions start with an auxiliary, such as

  • “Do you like rice?”

To report that question, drop the auxiliary and add if:

  • She asked me if I liked rice.

Learners often make the mistake of leaving the auxiliary verb in the reported speech: She asked me to do I like rice.

Information questions start with a question word:

  • “Where are you going?”

To report on these, simply change the pronoun and word order.

  • He asked me where I was going.
  • They asked, “When is the party?”

They asked me when the party was.

With that, you have everything it takes to understand reported speech. You are all set to change the direct to reported speech. Go ahead and try a few examples. All the best!

Brought to you by the KidsEnglishCollege™ Editorial Team.

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