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Some Important Points to Keep in Mind

Reported speech is used to express what others have said. To make sentences in reported speech, you need verbs like say or tell.
 

Example:
You are the most beautiful girl I have ever seen!

He said you were the most beautiful girl he had ever seen.

 

On the other hand the tense used to express an idea is also an important factor. Take into consideration the following chart:

 

Direct Speech

Reported Speech

Present Tense Simple Past Tense
Future with "Going to" Past with "Going to"
Present Perfect Past Perfect
Sentences with "Can" Sentences with "Could"
Future with "Will" Sentences with "Would"
Present Progressive Past Progressive

 

Look at the following examples:

 

Direct Speech

Reported Speech

Julia: "I live in my own apartment". She said that she lived in her own apartment
Nick: "I am going to visit my parents next weekend". He said he was going to visit his parents next weekend.
Tom: "I have studied Italian for a year". Tom said he had studied Italina for a year.
Linda and John: "We can't come to the party next week". They said they couldn't come to the party next week.
Terry: "I'll write as soon as I get there". She said that she would write as soon as he got there.
Andrew: "I'm learning to cook Chinese food". He said he was learning to cook Chinese food.

 

T here are different types of Reported Speech. For example:

  • Reported commands
     
  • Reported questions
     
  • Reported statements
  • 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.

     

    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 Oxford university."

    John said that his brother was at Oxford university. or

    John said that his brother is at Oxford 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.







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