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REPORTED (INDIRECT) SPEECH

Direct speech refers to statements that are made without an intermediary.


Quoted statements, for example, are a type of direct speech.
Reported (indirect) speech refers to statements that are made through an
intermediary. In reported speech, the sequence of tenses rule is usually
employed (EXCEPT when the application of the rule would result in an
ambiguous or unclear sentence).
The sequence of tenses rule: If the verb in the main clause of a
sentence is in a past tense, subordinate clause verbs must also be
in their respective past forms.
Examples:
DIRECT SPEECH

REPORTED (INDIRECT) SPEECH

1. "I have two sisters."

He says (that) he has two sisters.

2. "We live on Maple Street."

She said (that) they lived on Maple Street.

3. "It is too windy to play tennis."

He said (that) it was too windy to play tennis.

4. "They have 3 children."

He said (that) they had 3 children.

5. "I saw her stealing the gloves."

He said (that) he had seen her stealing the


gloves.

6. "We have eaten dinner."

They said (that) they had eaten dinner.

7. "It is raining outside."

She said (that) it was raining outside.

8. "I will meet you here at 8:00."

He said (that) he would meet me there at 8:00.

9. "I can finish my homework


She said (that) she could finish her homework
quickly."
quickly.
Notes:
that is usually omitted before the subordinate clause
if the main clause verb is in the present tense (see ex. 1 above), the
subordinate clause verb is not changed
the past of the past is past perfect (see ex. 5 above)
the past of the present perfect is also past perfect (see ex. 6 above)
the past forms of the modal verbs are as follows:
o can could
o will would
o shall should
o may might
o must had to
sometimes pronouns, possessives, and time/place references must be
changed (see examples 2, 8, and 9)
EXERCISE Change the following direct statements to reported speech:
"I play inline-skate hockey for
the national team."

He says
.

"I want to play professionally in


the future."

He said
.

"I took some medicine for my


cold."

He said
.

"I have never taken anabolic


steroids."

He said
.

"I must go now."

He said
.

"The pharmacy is closing in 10


minutes."

He said
.

SAY is just one of many verbs that can be used in the main clause of a
reported statement. Here are some other commonly used verbs:
announce
explain
insist
state

answer

complain

declare

deny

mention
tell

predict

promise

remark

reply

Examples: (as an exercise, form the direct statements that served as the basis
for the following reported statements)
Make the direct (quoted) statement:

REPORTED (INDIRECT) SPEECH


The weatherman announced that it would
rain.
The President insisted that he hadn't had
sex with Ms. Lewinski.
The accused stated that he was innocent.
My teacher told me that I had to study more
or I would fail.
The boss told us that we could leave early.

Note:
the verb TELL requires an indirect object (see examples 4 and 5). The verb
SAY, on the other hand, takes no indirect object.
REPORTED QUESTIONS
Reported questions usually employ the verb ASK in the main clause (also
possible are the verbs INQUIRE, WONDER, or WANT TO KNOW).
When reporting verb questions (yes/no questions), the subordinating
conjunction IF (or WHETHER) is used to introduce the subordinate clause.
For information questions, the appropriate interrogative pronoun is used
(as a relative pronoun) to introduce the subordinate clause.
Examples:
DIRECT SPEECH

REPORTED (INDIRECT) SPEECH

"Is the bank open?"

He asked (me) if the bank was open.

"Where is the nearest post office?"

She asked (me) where the nearest post


office was.

"Where did you put my glasses?"

He asked (me) where I had put his glasses.

"When will this noise stop?"

They asked (us) when the noise would stop.

"How many cats do you have?"

She asked (me) how many cats I had.

Note: Reported questions are technically NOT questions themselves, so they


are not followed by question marks, and THERE IS NO INVERSION OF THE
VERB AND THE SUBJECT.

REPORTED COMMANDS
Commands (imperative sentences) are reported using the verb TELL followed
by an infinitive phrase.
Examples:
DIRECT SPEECH

REPORTED (INDIRECT) SPEECH

"Give me all of your money!"

The robber told me to give him all of my


money.

"Stop talking!"

The teacher told us to stop talking.

"Eat your scrambled eggs."

She told him boy to eat his scrambled


eggs.

REVIEW EXERCISE - REPORTED SPEECH


Form reported speech statements from the following direct speech quotes:
DIRECT SPEECH

REPORTED (INDIRECT)
SPEECH

1. "It is not my problem," said John.

He said
.

2. "There are too many people," said Helen.

She said
.

3. "Can I have another piece?" asked the little


boy.

He asked
.

4. "Do you buy the Montreal Gazette?" asked


the telemarketer.

He asked
.

5. "Did you go to high school in Laval?" asked


the teacher.

6. "Where is the library?" asked the new


student.

7. "How long is break?" asked all the students.


.
8. "It is ten minutes like always," said the
teacher.

9. "Have you seen the magnificent Rockies?"


asked Mr. Gratton.

10."Go west, young man," said Horace Greely.


.
11."Fuck off!" said the punk.
.
12."The Prime Minister will lose the election,"
the journalist predicted.

13."When are you going to fix the sink?" asked


his wife.

14."We are considering all possible options,"


said the politician.

15."Come out with your hands in the air!" said


the policeman.

16."Is this all just a dream?" wondered the


philosopher.

17."Who was the first man on the moon?"


asked the historian.

18."Where did you find my wallet?" asked


Steven.

Change the following sentences from direct to reported speech.


1. "When was the last time you saw her?"
Alice asked
2. "Has Israel sent any films to the Cannes Film Festival this year?"
The film reviewer asked
3. "Did you enjoy her birthday party last night?"
My friend wanted to know
4. "Have you ever dyed your hair?'
Tali asked
5." Roses are my favourite flowers."
Nicole said
6. "Summer in Israel is very hot."
The weather man said
7. " Are you going to visit her in hospital?"
My mother asked
8. "I have a collection of masks hanging on the wall."
Nicole told her friend
9. "Can you dance the Salsa?"
The dancing instructor asked
10. "May I please be excused?"
The pupil politely asked the teacher
11. "Will you give me her phone number so I can phone her later?"
Gil asked me
12. "I am looking forward to seeing you soon."
Sam said
13. "Drive carefully!"
My mother told me
14. "I hope you will do well on the English exam next week."
Nicole said

15. "Where have I put my glasses?"


My grandmother asked
16. "Why can't I ever switch on this television?"
Talia wanted to know
Change the following into reported speech.
1. Ive applied for a few jobs this week, he said.
______________________________________________________
2. Do not run in the aisles, the teacher said to the students.
______________________________________________________
3. I saw him yesterday but he didnt recognize me, she said.
______________________________________________________
4. Go to your room and stay there, said his father.
______________________________________________________
5. Lets play football, he said.
______________________________________________________
6. Dont leave the hall until you are told to do so, the teacher said to
us.
______________________________________________________
7. Would you like me to drive you home? he asked.
______________________________________________________
8. I was reading the children a story when the lights went out last
night,
said the mother.
______________________________________________________
Turn the following dialogue into REPORTED SPEECH
Sally: Have you applied for the job?
Diane: Yes, I had an interview yesterday.
Sally: How did it go?
Diane: Fine, but Im wondering if I want the job because I will have to move
to Manchester.
Sally: What will you do then?
Diane: If they offer me the job, I cant accept it.
Sally asked Diane if she had
her.

applied

for

the

job

Diane

told