Reported speech

We use reported speech to report what someone said.

Notes

When we use reported speech, we have to change the tense and the time expression used in the reported sentence. In order to do that, you have to understand the difference between direct speech and indirect speech first.

Learn FREE with videos and interactive exercises

Direct speech

We use direct speech to report what someone said by simply repeating it:

  • John said, "I'm so happy!"
  • "I'm so happy", she said.

Unlike Italian, we don't put a colon before the quote. In fact, we put a comma before or after the quote, depending on the structure of the sentence.

Indirect speech

We use indirect speech when we report what someone said without speech marks ("").

Indirect speech is also called reported speech.

  • She said she was happy.
  • We answered that you weren't at home.

 

Watch out! When using reported speech, you also have to change time expressions!

Today → Yesterday / that day
Yesterday → The day before yesterday / the day before
Last night/week/month → The night/week/month before
Tomorrow → Today / The following day
Now → Then / At that time

Change in tense

When we report what someone says in the present simple, we don’t change the tense, but we change the subject.

  • Direct speech: "I'm cold", Claire says.
  • Indirect speech: Claire saysshe's hot.

 

When we report things in the past, we change the tense.

Study the following table to know how tenses change in reported speech/indirect speech:

Direct speechIndirect speech
Present simplePast simple
Past simplePast simple

 

Here's an example:

  • "I'm cold", Claire said. → Claire said she was cold.
  • "I didn't have time", Claire said. → Claire said she didn't have time.

Reported speech worksheet

It's time to practise!

Download the worksheet below and test yourself!

Always remember to change verb tenses and time expressions when reporting in the past!