In this week’s blog post, we focus on reported speech. With reported speech, we repeat what a person said but we use a reporting verb like say, tell or ask ( for reported questions) and change the tense. The grammar is clearly explained below and we have also included three IELTS Part 3 answers that clearly demonstrate the target language in use!

Direct Speech + Reported Speech

Direct Speech:   ‘I want a coffee.’     Reported Speech:  She said (that) she wanted a coffee.

Say + Tell

When we use tell, there must be a direct object.

With said there is no direct object.

e.g          She said (that) she wanted a coffee.

She told him (that) she wanted a coffee.

We usually go back one tense when we use reported speech.

Am/is/are > Was/were

‘I am leaving at 6.00’. > She said (that) she was leaving at 6.00.

Present > Past

‘I like football’. > He said he liked football                                                                                     

Present Perfect > Past Perfect                                                                                  

‘I’ve lost my keys’.  > He told me (that) he had lost his keys.          

Present Perfect Continuous > Past Perfect Continuous

‘I’ve been waiting for 20 minutes’. > He said (that) he had been waiting for 20 minutes.   

Past > Past Perfect         

‘I arrived late’. > He said (that) he had arrived late.

Past Continuous > Past Perfect Continuous

‘I was cycling to work at 8.00’. > She said that she had been cycling to work at 8.00

*Past Perfect and Past Perfect Continuous there is no change                                                 

Will > Would

‘I’ll call you later’. > She said (that) she would call me later.                                                          

Can > Could       

‘You can come’. > They told me (that) I could come.

Must > had to

‘I must call my mother’ > He said (that) he had to call his mother.

Should/ would- stay the same.

‘You should try to get out more’ > She told me (that) I should get out more.

Negatives                                                                                          

Reporting negatives is fairly simple as we just need to go back one tense by changing the auxiliary:

Present > Past

‘I don’t like football’.  > He said he didn’t like football.                                                                                     

Present Perfect > Past Perfect                                                                                  

‘I haven’t lost my keys’.  > He told me (that) he hadn’t lost his keys.           

Present Perfect Continuous > Past Perfect Continuous

‘I haven’t been waiting for 20 minutes’. > He said (that) he hadn’t been waiting for 20 minutes.   

Past > Past Perfect         

‘I didn’t arrive late’. > He said (that) he hadn’t arrived late.

Past Continuous > Past Perfect Continuous

‘I wasn’t cycling to work at 8.00’. > She told me that she hadn’t been cycling to work at 8.00

*Past Perfect and Past Perfect Continuous there is no change                                                    

Will > Would

‘I won’t call you later’. > She said (that) she wouldn’t call me later.                                                            

Can > Could       

‘You can‘t come’. > They told me (that) I couldn’t come.                                                                 

Am/is/are > Was/were

‘I am not leaving at 6.00’. > She said (that) she wasn’t leaving at 6.00.

Ask ( Reported Questions)

Reported Questions that start with ´Wh’

With reported questions that start with ‘Wh…’  The word order is the same as in positive sentences.

Am/is/are > Was/were

‘When are you leaving?’ > She asked me when I was leaving.

Present > Past

‘What do you like?’ > He asked me what I liked.                                                                                  

Present Perfect > Past Perfect                                                                                  

‘What have you lost?’ > He asked me what I had lost.      

Present Perfect Continuous > Past Perfect Continuous

‘How long have you been waiting?’ > She asked me how long I had been waiting.

Past > Past Perfect         

‘When did you arrive?’  > He asked when I had arrived.

Past Continuous > Past Perfect Continuous

‘What were you doing at 8.00?’ > She asked me what I had been doing at 8.00

Book A Free Trial

Start today with a trial lesson from PJC English

    Yes / No Questions

    With reported questions that start with ‘be’ or an auxiliary, i.e. ‘Yes/No’ questions, we need to add ‘if ’ or ´whether´.

    Am/is/are > Was/were

    ‘Are you leaving? > She asked me if I was leaving.

    Present > Past

    ‘Do you like cricket?’ > He asked me if I liked cricket                                                                                         

    Present Perfect > Past Perfect                                                                                  

    Have you lost your key?’  > He asked me if I had lost my key.       

    Present Perfect Continuous > Past Perfect Continuous

    ‘Have you been waiting long?’ > She asked me if I had been waiting long.

    Past > Past Perfect         

    ‘Did you arrive late?’  > He asked me if I had arrived late.

    Past Continuous > Past Perfect Continuous

    Were you doing your homework at 8.00? > She asked me if I had been doing my homework at 8.00

    Changing Pronouns

    When we use reported speech, we also have to change the pronoun.

    I > he/she  | ‘I’m late’ > He said (that) he was late.

    You > he/she/they   | ‘Will you call me?’ > He asked her to call him.

    He/she /it > he/she/it    | ‘He called me’ > She said (that) he had called her.

    We > they  | ‘We’re leaving’ > They said they were leaving.

    Us > them | ‘They gave us some presents’ > They said (that) they had given them  some presents.

    Our > their  |   ‘Where is our money?’ > They asked us where their money was.

    His/hers/its > His/hers/its  |  ‘I know it’s hers’ > She said (that) she knew it was hers.

    *If something is generally true or remains the same, we do not have to change the tense although you may need to change the verb.

    ‘I live in London’ > She told me that she lives in London.

    Grammar In Use – IELTS Speaking Part 3

    Do you think it’s important for young people to have good role models?

    It’s essential, in my opinion. Without strong role models, young people have no opportunity to learn what is right or wrong. You could end up with a situation where they are influenced only by their peers or by celebrities and that’s not ideal. I think family, teachers or older friends can act as role models for young people. One of my high school teachers told me that I had excellent writing skills and that I should focus more on this aspect of my studies; It was the best advice I ever got!

    What qualities should a good language teacher have?

    For me, primarily, they need to have a good understanding of the language they teach. They should know how to explain grammar and other concepts. Also, I think it’s important that they are patient and understanding, and have a real passion for teaching. Actually, my father was a teacher when he was younger but he said that he hadn’t the patience for it so he went down another career path instead.

    Do you think people these days are as likely to help others as in the past?

    I think so, yes. At least in my experience, people are still willing to help others and to support their neighbors when they are in trouble. People can definitely still rely on each other for help, in the countryside anyway.  For example, last week we asked our neighbor if he had any petrol in the garden shed as we needed to cut our lawn and didn’t have any. However, on the other hand, perhaps in large cities, the sense of community that existed in the past is no longer there.