If we report what another person has said, we usually do not use the speaker’s exact words (direct speech), but reported (indirect) speech. Therefore, you need to learn how to transform direct speech into reported speech. The structure is a little different depending on whether you want to transform a statement, question or request.
TypeExampledirect speech“I speak English.”reported speech
(no backshift)He says that he speaks English.reported speech
(backshift)He said that he spoke English.
|with interrogative||direct speech||“Why don’t you speak English?”|
|reported speech||He asked me why I didn’t speak English.|
|without interrogative||direct speech||“Do you speak English?”|
|reported speech||He asked me whether / if I spoke English.|
|direct speech||“Carol, speak English.“|
|reported speech||He told Carol to speak English.|
|1) today ___ that day|
|2) yesterday ___the day before|
|3) tomorrow ___the next day|
|4) a week ago – a week before|
|5) last weekend – the weekend before|
|6) next week – the following week|
|7) these days – those days|
|8) last week – the week before|
|9) now ___ then|
|10) this mornning ___ that morning|
Exercise on Reported Speech
Questions – Exercise 1
Complete the sentences in reported speech. Note the change of pronouns and tenses.
- Where is my umbrella?” she asked.
→ She asked…
- “How are you?” Martin asked us.
→ Martin asked us …
- He asked, “Do I have to do it?”
→ He asked …
- “Where have you been?” the mother asked her daughter.
→ The mother asked her daughter …
- “Which dress do you like best?” she asked her boyfriend.
→ She asked her boyfriend …
- “What are they doing?” she asked.
→ She wanted to know …
- “Are you going to the cinema?” he asked me.
→ He wanted to know …
- The teacher asked, “Who speaks English?”
→ The teacher wanted to know…
- “How do you know that?” she asked me.
→ She asked me …
- “Has Caron talked to Kevin?” my friend asked me.
→ My friend asked me…
|1) Jacob: “I work in an office.”
Jacob told me (that) /I /he/ her/ him /my /our/ she/ their/ they/ worked in an office.
|2) Ryan and Lucas: “We play football.”
Jacob told me (that) / I /he/ her/ him/ my/ our/ she/ their/ they/ played football.
|3) Victoria: “I like my cat.”
Victoria told me (that) /I/he/her/him/my/our/ he their/they/ liked I/he/her/him/my/our/she/their/ they / cat.
|4) Henry: “Can you see me?”
Henry asked /me/ if / I /he /her /him /my /our /she /their/ they / could see /I /he /her /him /my /our /she /their /they / .
|5) Julian: “I will have to borrow your pencil.”
Julian told me (that) / I/ he /her/ him/ my/ our /she/ their/ they/ would have to borrow /I /he /her /him /my /our /she/ their /they / pencil.
|6) Melanie: “My father is Jamaican.”
Melanie told me (that) / I /he/ her/ him/ my /our /she /their /they / father is Jamaican.
|7) Emma and Doris: “Can we lend your rackets?”
Emma and Doris asked me if /I/ he/ her/ him/ my /our/ she/ their/ they / could lend /I he /her/ him /my /our /she /their /they / rackets.
|8) Leah: “How is your journey.”
Leah asked me how / I /he /her /him/ my /our/ she /their/ they /journey was.
|9) Isabella and Ella: “We love our pets.”
Isabella and Ella told me (that) / I /he /her /him /my /our /she /their/ they / loved / I /he /her /him /my/ our/ she /their /they / pets.
|10) Grandmother: “Please bring me a cup of my tea.”
Grandmother told me to bring /I /he/ her /him/ my /our /she /their/ they / a cup of / I /he/ her/ him/ my /our /she/ their/ they /tea.
Reported commands, affirmative sentences
|1) Andrew: “Clean the blue bike!”
Andrew told me …
|2) Jessica: “Write a text message!”
Jessica told me …
|3) Nelly: “Help Peter’s sister!”
Nelly told me …
|4) Fred: “Wash your hands!”
Fred told me …
|5) Anna: “Open the window!”
Anna told me …
|6) Tom: “Come at 8!”
Tom told me …
|7) Teacher: “Do your homework!”
The teacher told me …
|8) Doris: “Dance with me!”
Doris told me …
|9) Sabine: “Meet Sandy at the station!”
Sabine told me …
|10) Victoria: “Check your e-mails!”
Victoria told me …
Reported commands, negations
Reported speech – statements with expressions of time
|1) Christopher: “Do you want to dance?”
Christopher asked me …
|2) Betty: “When did you come?”
Betty wanted to know …
|3) Mark: “Has John arrived?”
Mark asked me …
|4) Ronald: “Where does Maria park her car?”
Ronald asked me …
|5) Elisabeth: “Did you watch the latest film?”
Elisabeth asked me …
|6) Mandy: “Can I help you?”
Mandy wanted to know …
|7) Andrew: “Will Mandy have lunch with Sue?”
Andrew asked me …
|8) Justin: “What are you doing?”
Justin asked me …
|9) Frank: “How much pocket money does Lisa get?”
Frank wanted to know …
|10) Anne: “Must I do the shopping?”
Anne asked …