The Easiest Way to Learn Reported Speech or Indirect Speech

Why do we need reported speech?

We may have to report to another person what someone said.  If you gossip you need reported speech.  If your friend asks, "What did the teacher say?", you need reported speech.

For example, change the following into reported speech:

"I am very tired today," Tom said

Ans:  Tom said that he was very tired that day


What are the three changes in reported speech?

1) Tense change

If the reporting verb (highlighted in yellow) is in the present, there is no tense change.  But most often it is in the past.  Then you have to change the tense of the sentence in the following way.

Direct Speech Reported Speech
Simple Present>Simple Past
Present Continuous>Past Continuous
Present Perfect>Past Perfect
Present Perfect Continuous>Past Perfect Continuous
Simple Past>Past Perfect
Past Continuous>Past Perfect Continuous
Past Perfect>Past Perfect (No change)
Past Perfect Continuous>No change
Future Simple>Change will/shall to would/should
Future Continuous>Change will/shall to would/should
Future Perfect>Change will/shall to would/should
Future Perfect Continuous>Change will/shall to would/should

2) Pronoun change

Depending on the speaker and the situation, pronouns (highlighted in purple in the above example) change.

Examples of pronouns are

Personal pronouns
    you (singular and plural)
Objective pronouns
    you (singular and plural)
Possessive pronouns
    yours (singular and plural)
Reflexive pronouns  

3) Change in indicators (time and place references)

Direct Speech Reported Speech
today>that day
yesterday>the day before
tomorrow>the next/following day
day before yesterday>two days before
day after tomorrow>in two days time / two days later
next week/month/year etc.>the following week/month/year etc.
last week/month/year etc.>the previous week/month/year etc.
last night>the night before / the previous night

How are statements reported?

Use reporting verbs said, or told(if there is an object - him/her etc). 

Eg: "I have heard that most Indians are vegetarians," Maggie said.

Ans:  Maggie said that she had heard that most Indians were vegetarians.

How are Questions reported?

Wh Questions 

    Use reporting verbs like asked, enquired,  requested, wanted to know etc. depending on the situation.

    Change question word order to statement word order (Subject before verb).

    Eg:  "How is it that you know anything about India?" Mr Gupta Said

    Ans: Mr Gupta asked how it was that she knew anything about India.

Yes/No Questions

    Use whether or if

    Use statement word order (Subject before verb)

    Eg:"Are you a vegetarian?" Maggie said.

    Ans: Maggie asked whether he was a vegetarian.

How are Imperatives reported?

Imperatives are commands or requests.

Use reporting verbs like asked, told, ordered, requested, advised, urged etc

Use 'to' before the command or request.

Eg: "Tell me why." Mr Gupta said.

Ans:  Mr Gupta asked her to tell him why.

(after 'to' use only the base form of the verb - never past or past participle)

How are Exclamatory sentences reported?

Use reporting verbs like exclaimed or  exclaimed with surprise/regret/contempt/sorrow etc. 

Change the sentence in to a statement.

Eg: "What a beautiful day!" she said.

She exclaimed that it was a beautiful day.


Note the following points as well:

Do not use quotation marks in reported speech.

Do not use question marks and exclamation marks in reported speech.


If someone said "Yes" or "No"

You can report it as, 

He answered in the affirmative.


He answered in the negative.

I)  Report the following conversations:

1)  Ashish:  "Manu has never visited Delhi."

2)  Neena:  "I like oranges more than apples."

3.  Teacher:  "Have  you finished your homework?"

4)  The policeman:  Where do you live?

5)  The teacher to the students: "Keep silence."

6)  The beggar: "Please give me one rupee."

7)  Tom:  "What a beautiful day!"

8)  Mary: "How foolish I am!"

II) Report the conversation between Maggie and the cashier:

Maggie:  "Can you tell me if that gentleman is an Indian?"

Cashier:  "I think so"

Maggie:  "Does he come here all the time?"

Cashier:  "Perhaps not.  I do not recall having seen him before."

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