1. In reported speech, we usually report what was said at a different time, and so we change the tense to reflect the time which we are reporting:
DIRECT SPEECH: "I'm not playing football."
REPORTED LATER: He said that he wasn't playing football.
2. Sometimes we need to change the pronoun.
DIRECT SPEECH: Jim: "I don't like living here." (Jim is referring to himself)REPORTED SPEECH: Jim said (that) he didn't like living here. (the pronoun he refers to Jim)
3. We may also need to change other words about place and time.
DIRECT SPEECH: "I like this car."
REPORTED SPEECH: He said (that) he liked the car.
DIRECT SPEECH: "I went to Tokyo last week."
REPORTED SPEECH: She said (that) she'd been to Tokyo the week before.
Functions and examples
We use reportedspeech to tell someone what another person said.
Jim says to you...
"I don't feel well."
"I can't drive."
"My parents have gone on holiday."
"I'm going out now so you will have to wait until I get back."
You tell your friend what Jim said...
Jim said (that) he didn't feel well.
He said (that) he couldn't drive.
He said (that) his parents had gone on holiday.
He said (that) hewas going out now so I would have to wait until he got back.
1. If we report something which is still true, it is not necessary to change the verb.
DIRECT SPEECH: "My car is bigger than yours."
REPORTED SPEECH: He said his car is / was bigger than mine.
2. When we are reporting past tenses, and we see the events from the same view point as the original speaker, it is notnecessary to change the tense.
DIRECT SPEECH: "The earthquake happened at half past seven."
REPORTED SPEECH: The radio said that the earthquake happened at half past seven.
3. Modal verbs could, might, would, should, ought, had better usually do not change in reported speech.
DIRECT SPEECH: "I should go to the dentist."
REPORTED SPEECH: He said that he should go to the dentist.
See alsoReported questions / Say and tell
Teaching Reported speech
I give the students comic strips from the funny pages, and they have to summarize the direct speech. There are always lots of questions, and that makes especially good practice."
I ask students to tell three secrets to a partner. Then this partner goes and tells these secrets to other people in the class (gossip).In this way, students practice reporting but in a fun way."
I ask students to think of a fun sentence, they're all in a line and the one at the end whispers his/her sentence to the one beside them, this student reports the sentence to the following student, and so on. The last student says the sentence aloud and we see if they did it correctly... it is like the "telefono descompuesto"in Spanish."
Say and tell
Direct and indirect speech
We use 'say' and 'tell' in both direct and indirect speech.
DIRECT SPEECH: I said: "I'm hungry." / I told him: "I'm hungry."
INDIRECT SPEECH: I said that I was hungry / I told him that I was hungry.
We cannot use 'say' or 'tell' with indirect questions.
Jim asked (me) if I wanted to play football.
NOT: Jim told/said meif I wanted to play football.
With 'tell', we say who is told.
He told me that he liked playing tennis.
NOT: He said me that he liked playing tennis./ He said to me he liked playing tennis
NOT: He told that he liked playing tennis.
With 'say', if we want to use a personal object, we use to.
He said to them that he would be late.
With other objects, we don't usually use'tell'.
He said a strange thing.
NOT: He told a strange thing.
Orders and instructions
We can use 'tell' + object + infinitive to give orders and instructions.
I told my son to stop shouting.
She told me to shut up.
See also: Reported speech / Reported questions
Teaching Say and tell
We use 'tell' to give or ask for information. For example:
"Please tell me your name."...