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Grammar Lesson: Reported Speech

Published on May 14th, 2016 | Last updated on July 8th, 2019 by | Category: English Grammar Lessons with Videos | 8 Comments on Grammar Lesson: Reported Speech | 136 Views | Reading Time: 3 minutes
  • English Grammar in Use – Unit 48:
  • Topic: Reported Speech
  • English Grammar Class
  • Date of Class: May 15th, 2016, from 9:00 to 10:00 pm (Iran)
  • Use the audio player below to listen to the podcast of this vocabulary class which is based on the text below.

Part A:

It is not always necessary to change the verb in reported speech. If the situation is still the same, you do not need to change the verb to the past. For example:
Direct: Paul said ‘My new job is boring.’
Reported: Paul said that his new job is boring.
{The situation is still the same. His job is still boring now.)
Direct: Helen said ‘I want to go to Canada next year.’
Reported: Helen told me that she wants to go to Canada next year.
(Helen still wants to go to Canada next year.)
You can also change the verb to the past:
Paul said that his new job was boring.
Helen told me that she wanted to go to Canada next year.
But if the situation has changed or finished, you must use a past verb:
Paul left the room suddenly. He said he had to go. (not has to go)

Part B:
You need to use a past form when there is a difference
between what was said and what is really true.
For example:
You met Sonia a few days ago.
She said: Joe is in hospital.
Later that day you meet Joe in the street. You say:
Hi, Joe. I didn’t expect to see you. Sonia said you were in hospital.
(not ‘Sonia said you are in hospital’, because clearly he is not)

Part C:

Say and tell
If you say who somebody is talking to, use tell:
Sonia told me that you were in hospital. (not Sonia said me)
What did you tell the police? (not say the police)
Otherwise use say:
Sonia said that you were in hospital. (not Sonia told that … )
What did you say?
But you can ‘say something to somebody’:
Ann said goodbye to me and left. (not Ann said me goodbye)
What did you say to the police?

Part D:

Tell/ask somebody to do something
Have you heard?
Joe is in hospital.
Hi, Joe. Sonia said you were in hospital.
We also use the infinitive (to do / to be etc.) in reported speech, especially with tell and ask (for orders and requests):
Direct: ‘Drink plenty of water,’ the doctor said to me.
Reported: The doctor told me to drink plenty of water.
Direct: ‘Don’t be late,’ I said to Joe.
Reported: I told Joe not to be late.
Direct: ‘Can you help me, please,’ Jackie said to me.
Reported: Jackie asked me to help her.
You can also say ‘Somebody said (not) to do something’:
Paul said not to worry about him. (but not Paul said me)

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