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Guide to Reported Speech

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The Basics: Reported Speech:

Reported speech is used in both written and spoken English. Intermediate level English learners should study the reported speech in order to relate what others have said. Strong knowledge of the reported speech shows a command of tense conjunctions, as well as the proper use of pronouns and time expressions which must be changed. English learners should use this guide to explore detailed instructions, as well as use practice activities appropriate to this form. Teachers can print out the lesson plans, grammar charts and other reported speech learning materials introduced in this guide.

Reported Speech (also referred to as 'indirect speech') refers to a sentence reporting what someone has said. It is almost always used in spoken English.

  • If the reporting verb (i.e. said) is in the past, the reported clause is in a past form. This form is usually one step back into the past from the original.

    For example:

    • He said the test was difficult.
    • She said she watched TV every day.
  • If simple present, present perfect or the future is used in the reporting verb (i.e. says) the tense is retained.

    For example:

    • He says the test is difficult.
    • She has said that she watches TV every day.

Study Reported Speech in Depth:

The reported speech calls for changes in tenses, pronouns and time expressions. This reported speech guide provides all the information required. Reported speech generally uses the verbs 'say' and 'tell'. However, there are also a number of other reporting verbs that are much more descriptive (admit, reveal, suggest, etc.)

When changing verbs in reported speech, it's important to know your tenses well. This verb tense chart will help you review.

Test Your Knowledge of Reported Speech:

Once you've studied the rules - or if you already know the rules - test your knowledge. 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.

Teach a Lesson about Reported Speech:

Here are lessons on the site which focus on the past simple or past continuous and their use with other tenses.

Reported Speech - integration lesson for upper level students
Best Friend - Friend from Hell - fun conversation lesson which includes reporting back on what has been said

Activities with the Reported Speech:

Some activities that will help you practice:

Guess Who I Bumped Into? - Reported speech reading comprehension activity
Having a Hard Time Finding a Job - Dialogue reading of two conversations, the second of which reports on the first about someone who's having a hard time finding a job, includes a follow-up comprehension quiz

Grammar Tools and Games

Reported Speech Transformation Chart
Time Expressions and Tenses

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