Reported Speech | Grammar


Reported Speech: Mastering the Art of Indirect Communication in English
Reported Speech: Mastering the Art of Indirect Communication in English

Direct vs Indirect Speech

Reported speech, or indirect speech, is when someone tells what another person said. Imagine you're playing with your friends and one of them says, "I like ice cream." (direct speech) When you tell someone else what your friend said, you use reported speech. Instead of saying the exact same words, you say it in a slightly different way. For example: "She said (that) she liked ice cream" (reported speech)

Reported Speech: Changing Tenses and Pronouns

Changing tenses and pronouns in reported speech. It can be quite a task, but fear not, with some practice, it can be a walk in the park.

Let's talk about changing tenses. When reporting something that was said in the past, we need to shift the tense of the verb used in the original sentence. For instance, if someone said "I love pizza," in reported speech it would be "He/she/they said that they loved pizza." Notice how we changed "love" to "loved" since we are reporting something that happened in the past.

Reported Speech: Modals and Conditionals

Modals and conditionals in reported speech can be quite confusing if you're not careful. In reported speech, modals should be changed according to the context, as they express degrees of certainty or possibility. "Can" changes to "could," and "may" changes to "might." However, "must" remains the same because the speaker's certainty doesn't change.

It's essential to practice using both modals and conditionals in reported speech to fully grasp the concept.

Here are some guidelines for using reported speech correctly:

Pronoun changes: When you switch from direct speech (exact words) to reported speech, you need to change the pronouns to match the person who originally spoke. For example:

  • Direct speech: "I like ice cream."
  • Reported speech: She said that she liked ice cream.

Tense changes: Generally, the tenses change in reported speech to reflect that the words were spoken in a past moment. Here are some examples:

Simple Present -> Simple Past:

  • "I like ice cream." -> He said he liked ice cream.

Present Continuous -> Past Continuous:

  • "We are playing football." -> They said they were playing football.

Present Perfect -> Past Perfect:

  • "She has finished her homework." -> He said she had finished her homework.

Simple Past -> Past Perfect:

  • "They went to the movies." -> She said they had gone to the movies.

Past Continuous -> Past Perfect Continuous:

  • "I was studying all night." -> He said (that) he had been studying all night.

Simple Future -> Conditional:

  • "I will help you." -> She said (that) she would help me.

"Going to" Future -> "Was/Were going to" Future:

  • "They are going to travel." -> He said (that) they were going to travel.

Future Continuous -> Conditional Continuous:

  • "We will be waiting for you." -> They said (that) they would be waiting for me.

Future Perfect -> Conditional Perfect:

  • "She will have finished her work." -> He said (that) she would have finished her work.

Modals (can, could, may, might, must, should, etc.) -> Change accordingly:

  • "I can swim." -> She said (that) she could swim.

Changes in words and adverbs of place and time: When using reported speech, adverbs of place and time can also change. For example:

  • Direct speech: "I am here."
  • Reported speech: He said that he was there.
  • Direct speech: "I will come tomorrow."
  • Reported speech: She said that she would come the next day.
Reported speech with questions: In reported speech, we usually use reporting verbs like "asked," "inquired," or "wondered" to introduce the reported question. We also need to change the pronouns, verb tenses, and sometimes word order to make the reported question grammatically correct.

Here are a few more examples:
  • Direct speech: "What time does the movie start?"
  • Reported speech: She asked what time the movie started.
  • Direct speech: "Have you finished your homework?"
  • Reported speech: He wondered if you had finished your homework.
  • Direct speech: "Will they come to the party?"
  • Reported speech: I asked if they would come to the party.
Remember to use the phrase he, she or they said that when you are making a reported speech. 

With regular practice, you'll be able to master the usage of reported speech in English. So, keep at it, and soon you'll be a pro!

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