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Reported Speech

Reported Speech
Activity SmartMemo
Activity SmartMemo
Practise how to report the words somebody said.

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1- You will see sentences somebody said and must think of how to say that in reported speech. The introductory verb you must use is in brackets. 2- Move your mouse over the black button to check your answer. 3- If you were right, click on the green button, if wrong, click on the red.

When we report what somebody says or thinks, we can reproduce the exact words they say (or that we imagine they think) or we can express the idea inside our own sentence, changing everything necessary to make it fit:

Direct speech:

Peter said, “I am very happy here

Reported speech:

When we arrived to the river, Peter said that he was very happy in that place

girls talking

As you can see, in reported speech we need to make some changes. Let’s see what those changes are.


Words referring to place, time, etc. may need to be changed if we are reporting those words in a different place, time, etc.

- These are my children He said that those were his children
- Come here He told me to go there
- I’ll go tomorrow Yesterday he told me that he would come today


Some pronouns may need to change too.

- Give it to me He told me to give it to him
- You are nice He said that I was nice


We usually report the words at a later time, so we need to change all the tenses back towards the past with logical common sense. These are the usual changes:

Present Past
I need help He said that he needed help

Present perfect Past perfect
They have moved away He said that they had moved away

Past Past perfect
She lived here He said that she had lived there

Will would
I will visit you later He said he would visit us later

And the same with other modal verbs such as Can could, May might, etc.
I can do it He said he could do it

The Past Perfect tense doesn’t change because it can’t move back any further:
They had left an hour before He said they had left an hour before


We only use inversion in direct questions, so in reported speech we use the normal order: subject + verb. Also, questions beginning with a verb use the connector IF (or WHETHER). The reporting verb is always "asked" or "wanted to know".

Who are you? He asked me who I was
What's your name? He asked me what my name was
Is she gone? He asked me if she was gone
Have you got a pound? He wanted to know if I had a pound
Do you like her? He asked me whether I liked her


When we report an imperative we use an infinitive. Reporting verbs: told, ordered, asked.

Run faster! He told me to run faster
Be quiet He ordered us to be quiet
Don’t move He asked us not to move


Item Match Comments
Are you coming with me now? (asked) He asked me if I was going with him then also:  ... at that moment
Are you ok? (wanted to know) He wanted to know if I was ok or: whether I was ok
Can you see that bird over there? (asked) He asked me if I could see that bird over there
Come here! (asked) He asked me to go there
Did you see my brother yesterday? (wanted to know) He wanted to know if I had seen his brother the day before
Don't move! (ordered) He ordered me not to move
I can't do this any longer, I need to go now (shouted) He shouted (that) he couldn't do (that) any longer and that he needed to go then
I have been planting flowers all morning, I must rest (said) He said (that) he had been planting flowers all morning and (that) he must rest the modal verb MUST has no past form, so it doesn't change
I have known your father for twenty years (told) He told me (that) he had known my father for twenty years
I like those paintings very much, who is the painter? (said) He said (that) he liked those paintings very much, and wanted to know who the painter was also: and asked who the...
I lived in Brighton for a year (said) He said (that) he had lived in Brighton for a year
I worked in this factory two years ago (said) He said he had worked in that factory two years before AGO changes to BEFORE
I've got a big family (said) He said (that) he had a big family The form HAVE GOT is only used in the present, we can't say HAD GOT
It's better if I keep quiet and stay hidden here (thought) He thought it was better if he kept quiet and stayed hidden there
It's not fair, she has to stay with me (exclaimed) He exclaimed (that) it wasn't fair and (that) she had to stay with him
Show me your hands (ordered) He ordered me to show him my hands
Sit down please (asked) He asked me politely to sit down
Sometimes I see fairies (whispered) He whispered that sometimes he saw faires we can also say "... he sees faires" if that is still true
We saw a cangaroo at the zoo last week (told) He told me (that) they had seen a cangaroo at the zoo the week before
We will be hungry soon (announced) He announced (that) they would be hungry soon If WE includes him and me, it remains WE, but if it doesn't include me, it changes to THEY.
Where are you from? (wanted to know) He wanted to know where I was from
Who's that tall girl? (asked) He asked me who that tall girl was
Why are you living in this city? (wanted to know) He wanted to know why I was living in that city If we report this sentence in the same city, we say "... living in this city"
Will you come to my house tomorrow? (asked) He asked me if I would go to his house the following day
Will you come to my party tonight? (asked) He asked me if I would go to his party that night A more normal way of reporting this sentence would be:
- He invited me to his party
You look very nice, what's your name? (told her) He told her (that) she looked very nice and wanted to know what her name was also: ... and wanted to know her name.
Total number of items: 26

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