Today’s post is sure to be a winner in terms of improving your level of spoken English. In fact it definitely is as today we are going to be looking at reported speech in English and how we transmit what someone said. First of all, to be absolutely clear, reported speech is used to explain what somebody said without quoting the exact words that were used.
How is reported speech usually formed?
When we want to report speech in English, it is usually introduced by the verbs “to say” or “to tell” in their respective past forms of “said” and “told”.
They said that they couldn’t come to the party.
He told me that he likes my hair.
It is important to remember that the conjunction “that” isn’t necessary in English and is therefore usually omitted. What is the difference between “to say” and “to tell”?
Say – There is no personal object used with this verb
Tell – There must be a personal object, like “me” for example
Reported speech with the simple present
When someone says something in the present simple, we can also report this speech in the present simple.
She says it’s a wonderful day
The newspaper says prices are rising
He says it always rains in April
Reported speech with the past simple
In addition to what was explained about reporting speech mentioned in the present tense, we can also report something said in the present tense by using the past simple.
She told me she had to go to the dentist’s
He said he wanted to see the film
She said she was happy to see me
He told me I didn’t need any money
He said I had to arrive before seven
He told me he wanted to get a new job.
Reported speech with the past perfect
When something is explained in the past simple tense we normally report that speech using the past perfect tense.
They said they had seen a lot of wild animals
She said she hadn’t bought anything in the shop
He said he had come without his glasses
They said they hadn’t been here before
Reported speech with “going to”
When we want to report what someone has said in the present tense referring to something that will happen after saying the statement, we can use the structure “was/were going to” to report this.
He said Arsenal were going to win the league
She told me she wasn’t going to continue with her studies
They said they were going to watch the football match
Reported speech with the conditional
If we want to report what someone has said that indicates their future plans although not 100% confirmed, we can use the conditional to report this.
He said he would see me on Monday
They said they wouldn’t go there again
She said she would be very grateful
They told us it would cost double
As we can see from this post, reported speech in English has many elements to it, but if practised well at a good pace understanding everything little by little, you will gain a solid grasp of how to structure and use this well in English. Don’t forget that you can check out unit 140 of the course to study reported speech more in depth.
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