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Reported speech

If we want to say what somebody has said, we basically have two options:
  • We can use the person's exact words in quotation marks "..." (direct speech)
  • We can change the person's words into our own words (reported speech)
Direct speech
  • He said “I love you.”
Reported speech
  • He said that he loved me.
Reported statements
Direct statement
  • He said: “I am sick.”
Reported speech
  • He said that he was sick.
Reported statements are one form of reported speech.
We usually introduce reported statements with "reporting verbs" such as "say" or "tell":
  • He said (that)...
  • He told me (that)...
When we report a statement, we can say "He said that..." or simply "He said...". Both are possible. "He said that..." is more formal.
Pronouns may need to change to reflect a different perspective.

Tense sometimes has to go back one tense eg,present becomes past - this is called backshift.


    pronoun backshift   time ,place
Direct statement He said I am tired.  
  Abi said I was working  
  He said It  is cold in  here
  David said he  works   in London
Reported statement He said that he  was  tired.  
  She said that  she had been working the day before.
  He said that it  was cold in  there.
  David said that he works   in London.
  • Abi said "I was working"
  • She said that she had been working.
  • He said "It is cold in here".
  • He said that it was cold in there.
It is not always necessary to change the verb when you use reported speech.If you report something and it is still true,you do not need to change the verb. 
  • Mary said "I work in London."
  • Mary said that she works in London.
  • Peter said "London is more lively than Birmingham."
  • Peter said that London was more lively than Birmingham.
  • Laura said "I want to go to Texas next year."
  • Laura said that she wants to go to Texas next year.
You must use a past form  when there is a difference between what was said and what is really true. If you say who you are talking to ,use tell.
  • Fiona told me that you were ill.
  • What did you tell the manager?
  • Otherwise use say.
  • Fiona said that you were ill.
  • What did you say?
  • But you can say something to somebody.
  • What did you say to the manager?
  • Sharon said goodbye to me and left.
we also use the infinitive to do,to stay reported speech,expecially with tell and ask for order and requests.
  • Direct: 'Stay in bed for a few days,' the doctor said to me.
  • Reported: The doctor told me to stay in bed for a few days.
  • Direct: 'Don't shout,' I said to Jim.
  • Reported: I told Jim not to shout.
  • Direct: 'Please don't tell anybody what happened,' Ann said to me.
  • Reported: Ann asked me not to tell anybody what (had) happened.
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