Reported speech : sentences and questions

I like travelling. → She said that she liked travelling.

I’m leaving tomorrow. → He told her that he was leaving the next day.

I’ll always love you. → He said that he would always love me.

I passed the exam. → She told me that she had passed the exam.

I’ve forgotten my keys. → He said that he had forgotten his keys.

I can’t come. → She said that she couldn’t come.

I may be late. → He said that he might be late.

I must go. → She said that she had to go.

  • When the reporting verb is in the past tense,the tenses in the sentence which is being reported usually change like this:
    present > past
    will > would
    past simple / present perfect > past perfect
  • Some modal verbs change, e.g can > could, may > might, must > had to.
    Other modal verbs stay the same, e.g. could, might, should, etc.
  • You usually have to change the pronouns, e.g.
    I like Jazz.’ → Jane said that She liked Jazz.
  • Using that after said and told is optional.
  • If you reported what someone said on a different day or in a different place, some other time and place words can change,
    e.g. tomorrow > the next day, here > there, this > that, etc.
    I’ll meet you here tomorrow. → ’He said He’d meet me there the next day.
Be careful – after said don’t use a person or an object pronoun:
He said he was tired. NOT He said me he…

After told you must use a person or pronoun:
Sarah told Cally that she would call her. NOT Sarah told that she …
He told me he was tired. NOT He told he was …


Reported questions

Are you married?’ → She asked him if he was married.

Did she phone?’ → He asked me whether she had phoned.

‘What‘s your name?’ → I asked him what his name was.

‘Where do you live?’ → They asked me where I lived.

  • When you report a question the tense change as in reported statements.
  • When a question doesn’t begin with a question word, add if(or whether).
    ‘Do you want a drink?’ He asked me if /whether I wanted a drink.
  • You also have to change the word order to subject + verb,and not use do/did.

quoted from Oxford English file Intermidiate MultiPack


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