Reported Speech

Reported Speech How does it Work?

Indirect speech or Reported speech is just a way of expressing your intent in questions, statements or other phrases, without essentially quoting them outrightly as the way it is done in indirect speech.


Reported Speech Rules

To understand Reported Speech Grammar and Reported Verbs, you need to first understand reported speech rules and how it works. Here are some types of reported speech:

Reported Statements

Reported speech is used when someone says a sentence, like, “I’m going to the movie tonight”. Later, we want to tell a 3rd person what the first person is doing.

It works like this:

We use a reporting verb i.e ‘say’ or ‘tell’. In the present tense, just put in ‘he says.

Direct Speech: I like burgers.

Reported Speech: He says (that) he likes burgers.

You don’t need to change the tense, but you do need to switch the ‘person’ from ‘I’ to ‘he’. You also need to change words like ‘my’ and ‘your’.

But, in case the reporting verb is in the past tense, then change the tenses in the reported speech itself.

Reported Questions

Reported questions to go like 

Direct Speech: Where do you reside?

We make the change to reported speech by-

It is similar to reported statements. The tense changes are exact, and we keep the question’s word. But we need to change the grammar of that normal sentence into positive. For eg:

Direct Speech: Where do you reside?

Reported Speech: He asked me where I resided.

The direct speech question is in the present simple tense. We make a present simple question with ‘do’ or ‘does’. For that, I need to take that away. Then change the verb to the past simple. 

Direct Speech: Where is Jolly?

Reported Speech: He asked me where Jolly was.

The direct question is the present simple of ‘be’. We change the question form of the present simple of being by changing the position of the subject and the verb. So, change them back before putting the verb into the past simple.


Here Are Some More Examples

Reported Requests

The reported speech goes a long way. What if a person asks you to do something politely or make a request? It’s called a reported request. For example

Direct Speech: Close the door, please / Could you close the door please? / Would you mind closing the door, please?

All these requests mean the same, so we don’t need to report every word there when we tell a 3rd person about it. 

We can simply use ‘ask me + to + infinitive’:

Reported Speech: They asked me to close the door.

Direct Speech: Please be punctual.

Reported Speech: They asked us to be punctual.


Reported Orders

And lastly, how about when someone doesn’t ask that politely? This is known as an ‘order’ in English, which is when someone tells you to do something pretty much directly. This is called a reported order. For example

Direct Speech: Stand up right now!

We make this into a reported speech in the same way as that for a request. Just use ‘tell’ rather than ‘ask’:

Reported Speech: She told me to stand up right now.

Direct Order    

    Reported Order

Go to sleep!

He told the child to go to sleep

Stop worrying!

He told her to stop worrying

Be punctual!

He told me to be punctual.

Don’t move!

He told us not to move.

Time Expressions within the Ambit of Reported Speech

Sometimes when we want to change the direct speech into reported speech, we will have to change the time expressions too. We don’t necessarily always have to do that. However, It depends on when we heard the speech in indirect form and when we said the speech in reported form. 

For Example,

It’s Sunday. Kiran Ma’am says “I’m leaving today”.

If You tell someone on Sunday, You will say “Kiran Ma’am said she was leaving today”.

If you tell someone on Tuesday, You will say “Kiran Ma’am said she was leaving yesterday”.

If you tell someone on Friday, you will say “Kiran Ma’am said she was leaving on Sunday “.

If you tell someone a month later, you will say “Kiran Ma’am said she was leaving that day”.

So, technically there’s no easy way to convert. You need to put in real effort and have to think about it when the direct speech is said.


Here’s a Table of How Some Conversions can be Made 

now can be converted to then / at that time

today can be converted to yesterday / that day / Tuesday / the 27th of June

yesterday can be converted to the day before yesterday / the day before / Wednesday / the 5th of December

last night can be converted to the night before, Thursday night

last week can be converted to the week before / the previous week

tomorrow can be converted to today / the next day / the following day / Friday


Now Let us Check our Understanding Through this Table


Direct Speech

Reported Speech

present simple

I like Burger

She said (that) she liked Burger

present continuous

I am living in Australia

She said (that) she was living in Australia

past simple

I bought a new house

She said (that) she had bought a new house OR She said (that) she bought a new house

past continuous

My mom was watching a movie

She said (that) her mom had been watching a movie

present perfect

I haven’t seen Ram

She said (that) she hadn’t seen Ram.


I will travel to Delhi

She said (that) she would travel to Delhi.


I would suggest, but..”

She said (that) she would suggest but…


I can play cricket.

She said (that) she could play cricket


I could go the wedding

She said (that) she could go to the wedding


I shall come later

She said (that) she would come later.


I should talk to her

She said (that) she should talk to her


I might be coming late

She said (that) she might be coming late


I must attend the party

She said (that) she must attend the party She said she had to attend the party

This is all about reported speech. English grammar is a tricky thing given both the rules and practice. Reading these rules solely will not help you to get a strong grasp of them. You also have to practice reported speech sentences in practical life to know how and when they can be used.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. How to convert present tenses to reported speech and give some examples.

There are certain rules to follow while converting sentences to reported speech. We need to manage tenses also.

Usually, the present sentences change to simple past tense.

Ex: I do yoga every morning

She said that she did yoga every morning.

I play cricket a lot

He said that he played cricket a lot 


Usually The present continuous tense changes to the past continuous tense. 

Ex: My friend is watching a movie.

She said that her friend was watching a movie.

We are eating dinner

They said that they were eating dinner.


Usually, the  Present Perfect Tense changes into Past Perfect Tense

Ex: I have been to the USA

She told me that she had been to the USA.

She has finished her task.

She said that she had finished her task.


Usually the Present Perfect Progressive Tense changes into Past Perfect Tense

2. How to convert present tenses to reported speech and give some examples.

Usually the Past Simple Tense changes into the Past Perfect Tense.

Ex: He arrived on Friday

He said that he had arrived on Friday.

My mom enjoyed the stay here

He said that his mom had enjoyed the stay there.


Usually, the Past Progressive Tense changes into the Perfect Continuous Tense

Ex: I was playing the cricket

He said that he had been playing cricket.

My husband was cooking

She said that her husband had been cooking.


Usually, the Past Perfect Tense doesn’t change.

Ex: She had worked hard.

She said that she had worked hard.

And also the Past Perfect Progressive Tense doesn’t change.

3. State the rules for conversion of future tenses into reported speech

There are rules to follow while converting the future tenses to reported speech.

In general, the Future Simple Tense changes into would. And also the future Progressive Tense changes into “would be”. The Future Perfect Tense changes into “would have”. The Future Perfect Progressive Tense changes into “would have been”.


Ex: I will be attending the wedding.

She said that she would be attending the wedding.

4. Give examples for conversion of  ‘can ‘, ‘can’t’ and ‘will’,’’won’t’ 

Direct Speech

Indirect Speech

My grandma can’t remember me 

She said that her grandma couldn’t remember her.

I can play football

He said that he could play football

We can dance well

They said that they could dance well


Direct Speech

Indirect Speech

I will go to the market

He said that he would go to the market

Things will get better, she said.

She told me that things would get better

I won’t be in the team this year

He told me that he wouldn’t be in the team that year

5. Give some examples for reported requests and reported orders. 


Direct Speech

Indirect Speech

Please don’t be late.

He asked us not to be late.

Sit down!

He told me to sit down.

Please don’t drink.

He asked me not to drink.

Could you bring my dress tomorrow?

She asked me to bring her dress the next day

Don’t be late

He asked me not to be late

Can you pass me the book, please?

She asked me to pass the book

Please come early

He asked me to come early

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