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REPORTED SPEECH

English Grammar – Reported speech

Statements

1) If the sentence starts in the present, there is no backshift of tenses in Reported speech.
Example: Susan: “I work in an office.” Susan says that she works in an office.

2) If the sentence starts in the past, there is often backshift of tenses in Reported speech. (see: Note)
Example: Susan: “I work in an office.” Susan said that she worked in an office.

Backshift of tenses  
from to  
Simple Present Simple Past  
Simple Past Past Perfect  
Present Perfect  
Past Perfect  
will would  
Progressive forms  
am/are/is was/were  
was/were had been  
has been  
had been  
Backshift of tenses
from to
Peter: “I work in the garden.” Peter said that he worked in the garden.
Peter: “I worked in the garden.” Peter said that he had worked in the garden.
Peter: “I have worked in the garden.”
Peter: “I had worked in the garden.”
Peter: “I will work in the garden.” Peter said that he would work in the garden.
Peter: “I can work in the garden.” Peter said that he could work in the garden.
Peter: “I may work in the garden.” Peter said that he might work in the garden.
Peter: “I would work in the garden.”
(could, might, should, ought to)
Peter said that he would work in the garden.
(could, might, should, ought to)
Progressive forms
Peter: “I’m working in the garden.” Peter said that he was working in the garden.
Peter: “I was working in the garden.” Peter said that he had been working in the garden.
Peter: “I have been working in the garden.”
Peter: “I had been working in the garden.”

If the sentence contains an expression of time, you must change it as well.

 

Peter: “I worked in the garden yesterday.”
Peter said that he had worked in the garden the day before.

Shifting of expressions of time

this (evening) that (evening)
today/this day that day
these (days) those (days)
now then
(a week) ago (a week) before
last weekend the weekend before / the previous weekend
here there
next (week) the following (week)
tomorrow the next/following day

Note:

In some cases the backshift of tenses is not necessary, e.g. when statements are still true.

John: “My brother is at Leipzig university.”
John said that his brother was at Leipzig university. or
John said that his brother is at Leipzig university.

or

Mandy: “The sun rises in the East.”
Mandy said that the sun rose in the East. or
Mandy said that the sun rises in the East.

Reported commands

If you put a command into Reported speech there are some steps which are the same like in statements: (changing of the person, backshift of tenses, changing of expressions of time).

The form is mostly: form of to tell + to + infinitive.

Affirmative commands Negative commands
Father: “Do your homework.” Teacher. “Don’t talk to your neighbour.”
Father told me to do my homework. The teacher told me not to talk to my neighbour.

Reported questions

If you put a question into Reported speech there are some steps which are the same like in statements: (changing of the person, backshift of tenses, changing of expressions of time).

In Reported speech there is no question anymore, the sentence becomes a statement.
That’s why the word order is: subject – verb

Question without question words (yes/no questions):
Peter: “Do you play football?” – Peter asked me whether (if) I played football.

Question with question words:
Peter: “When do you play football?” – Peter asked me when I played football.

 

 

Finish the sentences using Reported speech. Always change the tense, although it is sometimes not necessary.

Example: Peter: “Clean the black shoes!”
Peter told me _________________________

Answer: Peter told me to clean the black shoes.