Reported speech is how we represent the speech of other people or what we ourselves say.


Direct speech repeats the exact words the person used, or how we remember their words:

Ex: Barbara said, “I didn’t realise it was midnight.”

In indirect speech, the original speaker’s words are changed.

Ex: Barbara said she hadn’t realised it was midnight.


If you have a sentence in Direct Speech, try to follow our 5 steps to put the sentence into Reported Speech:

  1. Define the type of the sentence (statement, questions, command)
  2. What tense is used in the introductory sentence?
  3. Do you have to change the person (pronoun)?
  4. Do you have to backshift the tenses?
  5. Do you have to change expressions of time and place?


Tense changes when using reported speech: 

Reporting verbs:

We can use say and tell to report statements in direct speech. 

Other reporting verbs:

add, admit, advise, agree, announce, answer, ask, claim, comment, complain, confess, confirm, continue, cry (=shout), demand, enquire, explain, hint, inform, insist, interrupt, maintain, note, observe, offer, order, point out, promise, protest, repeat, reply, shout, state, suggest, threaten, warn, wonder.


Conversion of expressions of time and place:

If there is an expression of time/place in the sentence, it may be changed, depending on the situation.

  • Direct Speech → Peter: “I worked in the garden yesterday.”
  • Reported Speech → Peter said (that) he had worked in the garden the day before.


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