Reported speech

We use the reported statements when we want to tell someone what the other person said or asked.

For example :

  • Direct speech: I like coffee .
  • Reported speech: She says (that) she likes coffee .

We don’t need to change the tense, but we do need to change the ‘person’ from ‘I’ to ‘she’, for example. We also may need to change pronouns like ‘my’ and ‘your’.

But, if the reporting verb is in the past tense, then usually we change the tenses in the reported speech:

  • Direct speech: I like coffe.
  • Reported speech: She said (that) she liked coffee .

Tense :present simple

Direct : I like ice cream

Reported : She said (that) she liked ice cream.

Tense :present continuous

Direct : I am living in London

Reported : She said (that) she was living in London.

Tense : past simple

Direct : I bought a car

Reported : She said (that) she had bought a car OR She said (that) she bought a car.

Tense : past continuous

Direct :I was walking along the street

Reported :She said (that) she had been walking along the street.

Tense : present perfect

Direct : I haven’t seen Julie

Reported : She said (that) she hadn’t seen Julie.

Tense : past perfect

Direct : I had taken English lessons before

Reported : She said (that) she had taken English lessons before.

Reported questions :

The tense changes are the same, and we keep the question word. The very important thing is that, once we tell the question to someone else, it isn’t a question any more.

For example :

  • Direct question : Where do you live?
  • Reported question : She asked me where I lived.

  • Direct question : what are you doing?
  • Reported question : She asked me what I was doing.

But, what if you need to report a ‘yes / no’ question? We don’t have any question words to help us. Instead, we use ‘if’.

For example :

  • Direct question : are you living here.?
  • Reported question : She asked me if I was living here.
  • Direct question : have you ever been to Spain?
  • Reported question : She asked me if I had ever been to Spain.


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