Reported Speech (Indirect Speech)

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.

Type Example
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.
Type Example
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.

  1. Where is my umbrella?” she asked.
    → She asked…
  2. “How are you?” Martin asked us.
    → Martin asked us …
  3. He asked, “Do I have to do it?”
    → He asked …
  4. “Where have you been?” the mother asked her daughter.
    → The mother asked her daughter …
  5. “Which dress do you like best?” she asked her boyfriend.
    → She asked her boyfriend …
  6. “What are they doing?” she asked.
    → She wanted to know …
  7. “Are you going to the cinema?” he asked me.
    → He wanted to know …
  8. The teacher asked, “Who speaks English?”
    → The teacher wanted to know…
  9. “How do you know that?” she asked me.
    → She asked me …
  10. “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

1) Karen: “Don’t play football in the garden!”
Karen told me …
2) Teacher: “Don’t forget your homework!”
The teacher reminded me …
3) Mike: “Don’t shout at Peter!”
Mike told me …
4) Yvonne: “Don’t talk to your neighbour!”
Yvonne told me …
5) Denise: “Don’t open the door!”
Denise told me …
6) Marcel: “Don’t sing that song!”
Marcel reminded me …
7) Jane: “Don’t watch the new film!”
Jane advised me …
8) Walter: “Don’t ring Romy on Sunday!”
Walter told me …
9) Lisa: “Don’t fly via Paris!”
Lisa advised me …
10) Jamie: “Don’t eat so much junk food!”
Jamie reminded me…

Reported speech – simple statements

1) John: “Mandy is at home.”
John said that …
2) Max: “Frank often reads a book.”
Max told me that …
3) Susan: “I’m watching TV.”
Susan said to me that …
4) Simon: “David was ill.”
Simon said that …
5) Peggy: “The girls helped in the house.”
Peggy told me that …
6) Richard: “I am going to ride a skateboard.”
Richard said to me that …
7) Stephen and Claire: “We have cleaned the windows.”
Stephen and Claire told me that …
8) Charles: “I didn’t have time to do my homework.”
Charles remarked that …
9) Mrs Jones: “My mother will be 50 years old.”
Mrs Jones told me that …
10) Jean: “The boss must sign the letter.”
Jean said that …

Reported speech – statements with expressions of time

1) Emily: “Our teacher will go to Leipzig tomorrow.”
Emily said that …
2) Helen: “I was writing a letter yesterday.”
Helen told me that …
3) Robert: “My father flew to Dallas last year.”
Robert told me that …
4) Lisa: “Tim went to the stadium an hour ago.”
Lisa said that …
5) Patricia: “My mother will celebrate her birthday next weekend.”
Patricia said that …
6) Michael: “I am going to read a book this week.”
Michael said to me that …
7) Jason and Victoria: “We will do our best in the exams tomorrow.”
Jason and Victoria told me that …
8) Andrew: “We didn’t eat fish two days ago.”
Andrew remarked that …
9) Alice: “I spent all my pocket money on Monday.”
Alice complained that …
10) David: “John had already gone at six.”
David said that …

Reported questions

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 …

Reported questions

1) Mandy: “Are the boys reading the book?”
Yesterday Mandy asked me …
2) Jason: “Who gave you the laptop?”
Yesterday Jason wanted to know …
3) Robert: “Is Tim leaving on Friday?”
Yesterday Robert asked me …
4) Daniel: “Will it rain tomorrow?”
Yesterday Daniel asked me …
5) Jennifer: “Where do you play football today?”
Yesterday Jennifer wanted to know …
6) Nancy: “Why didn’t Nick go to New York last summer?”
Yesterday Nancy wanted to know …
7) Barbara: “Must I do my homework this afternoon?”
Yesterday Barbara asked me …
8) Linda: “Did Max fly to London two weeks ago?”
Yesterday Linda wanted to know …
9) Grandmother: “Where are my glasses?”
Yesterday Grandmother asked me …
10) A man: “When does the train to Liverpool leave?”
Yesterday a man asked me …