Reported speech in English

Hey everybody!

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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  1. Hi good evening.

  2. Hello.I liked this lesson.I am studying english.

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