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Reporting Verbs

When using reported speech, most students learn to use say and tell:

Examples:

John told me he was going to stay late at work.
Peter said he wanted to visit his parents that weekend.

Say and tell are the most common reporting verbs used to report what others have said. However, there are a number of other reporting verbs which can more accurately describe what someone has said. These verbs take a variety of structures that differ from reported speech. For example:

Original Statement

I will come to your party. I promise.

Reported Speech

He said he would come to my party.

Reporting Verb

He promised to come to my party.

In this example, reported speech changes the original verb to 'would' as well as changing the possessive pronoun 'your' to 'my'. In contrast, the reporting verb 'promise' is simply followed by the infinitive.

Family Tree

The following list gives you reporting verbs in various categories based on sentence structure. Note that a number of verbs can take more than one form.

verb object infinitive verb infinitive verb (that) verb gerund verb object preposition gerund verb preposition gerund
advise
encourage
invite
remind
warn
agree
decide
offer
promise
refuse
threaten
admit
agree
decide
deny
explain
insist
promise
recommend
suggest
deny
recommend
suggest
accuse
blame
congratulate
apologize
insist
Examples:
Jack encouraged me to look for a new job.

They invited all their friends to attend the presentation.

Bob warned his friend not to open the can of worms.

Examples:
She offered to give him a lift to work.

My brother refused to take no for an answer.

Mary decided to attend university.

Examples:
Tom admitted (that) he had tried to leave early.

She agreed (that) we needed to reconsider our plans.

The teacher insisted that he didn't give enough homework.

Examples:
He denied having anything to do with her.

Ken suggested studying early in the morning.

Alice recommends playing golf in Bend, Oregon.

Examples:
They accused the boys of cheating on the exam.

She blamed her husband for missing the train.

The mother congratulated her daughter on graduating from college.

Examples:
He apologized for being late.

She insisted on doing the washing up.

Peter apologized for interrupting the meeting.

For more information on reported speech, this overview of reported speech provides a guide on which transformations are required to use the form. Practice using this form with the reported speech worksheet that provides a quick review and exercise. There's also a reported speech quiz which provides immediate feedback on correct or incorrect answers. Teachers can use this guide on how to teach reported speech for help introducing the reported speech, as well as a reported speech lesson plan and other resources.

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