Reported speech

Daisy has just had an interview for a summer job. 


As you watch the video, look at the examples of reported speech. They are in red in the subtitles. Then read the conversation below to learn more. Finally, do the grammar exercises to check you understand, and can use, reported speech correctly.


Sophie: Mmm, it’s so nice to be chilling out at home after all that running around.

Ollie: Oh, yeah, travelling to glamorous places for a living must be such a drag!

Ollie: Mum, you can be so childish sometimes. Hey, I wonder how Daisy’s getting on in her job interview.

Sophie: Oh, yes, she said she was having it at four o’clock, so it’ll have finished by now. That’ll be her ... yes. Hi, love. How did it go?

Daisy: Well, good I think, but I don’t really know. They said they’d phone later and let me know.

Sophie: What kind of thing did they ask you?

Daisy: They asked if I had any experience with people, so I told them about helping at the school fair and visiting old people at the home, that sort of stuff. But I think they meant work experience.

Sophie: I’m sure what you said was impressive. They can’t expect you to have had much work experience at your age.

Daisy: And then they asked me what acting I had done, so I told them that I’d had a main part in the school play, and I showed them a bit of the video, so that was cool.

Sophie: Great!

Daisy: Oh, and they also asked if I spoke any foreign languages.

Sophie: Languages?

Daisy: Yeah, because I might have to talk to tourists, you know.

Sophie: Oh, right, of course.

Daisy: So that was it really. They showed me the costume I’ll be wearing if I get the job. Sending it over ...

Ollie: Hey, sis, I heard that Brad Pitt started out as a giant chicken too! This could be your big break!

Daisy: Ha, ha, very funny.

Sophie: Take no notice, darling. I’m sure you’ll be a marvellous chicken.

We use reported speech when we want to tell someone what someone said. We usually use a reporting verb (e.g. say, tell, ask, etc.) and then change the tense of what was actually said in direct speech.

So, direct speech is what someone actually says? Like 'I want to know about reported speech'?

Yes, and you report it with a reporting verb.

He said he wanted to know about reported speech.

I said, I want and you changed it to he wanted.

Exactly. Verbs in the present simple change to the past simple; the present continuous changes to the past continuous; the present perfect changes to the past perfect; can changes to could; will changes to would; etc.

She said she was having the interview at four o’clock.
(Direct speech: 'I’m having the interview at four o’clock.')
They said they’d phone later and let me know.
(Direct speech: 'We’ll phone later and let you know.')

OK, in that last example, you changed you to me too.

Yes, apart from changing the tense of the verb, you also have to think about changing other things, like pronouns and adverbs of time and place.

'We went yesterday.'  > She said they had been the day before.
'I’ll come tomorrow.' > He said he’d come the next day.

I see, but what if you’re reporting something on the same day, like 'We went yesterday'?

Well, then you would leave the time reference as 'yesterday'. You have to use your common sense. For example, if someone is saying something which is true now or always, you wouldn’t change the tense.

'Dogs can’t eat chocolate.' > She said that dogs can’t eat chocolate.
'My hair grows really slowly.' > He told me that his hair grows really slowly.

What about reporting questions?

We often use ask + if/whether, then change the tenses as with statements. In reported questions we don’t use question forms after the reporting verb.

'Do you have any experience working with people?'
They asked if I had any experience working with people.
'What acting have you done?'
They asked me what acting I had done.

Is there anything else I need to know about reported speech?

One thing that sometimes causes problems is imperative sentences.

You mean like 'Sit down, please' or 'Don’t go!'?

Exactly. Sentences that start with a verb in direct speech need a to + infinitive in reported speech.

She told him to be good. (Direct speech: 'Be good!')
He told them not to forget. (Direct speech: 'Please don’t forget.')

OK. Can I also say 'He asked me to sit down'?

Yes. You could say 'He told me to …' or 'He asked me to …' depending on how it was said.

OK, I see. Are there any more reporting verbs?

Yes, there are lots of other reporting verbs like promise, remind, warn, advise, recommend, encourage which you can choose, depending on the situation. But say, tell and ask are the most common.

Great. I understand! My teacher said reported speech was difficult.

And I told you not to worry!



What was the most memorable conversation you had yesterday? Who were you talking to and what did they say to you?

Average: 4.2 (10 votes)
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Submitted by KGS31170423 on Wed, 04/29/2020 - 21:42

Wednesday, April 29, 2020 well, 5 days ago i was talking with my best friend and she was told me that her boyfriend ignored her because he had been veryr rude, I had told her, that not even send him messages, because he was going to think that she depended on him, but since she is crybaby like me, well we are going to cry together because I was sencible.

Submitted by MF_Benitez on Wed, 04/29/2020 - 20:26

The other day playing chinese chekers with my dad he told me that instead of trying to won him I should concentrated in my own game, I told him that that didn´t had sense but in the next game I listened to him and I won, after that he told that is always better concentrade on what you do and not on what others do.

Submitted by Emilio31170655 on Wed, 04/29/2020 - 20:02

One day im in the house of my uncles and my mom told me to go to the shop and buy a soda for my uncle. Then I was going to the shop and I told him that i want a soda of cherry, he asked me if I have the money to pay, I say yes but when I check my pants I dont have anything and I told him that i dont have money and he told me that i couldnt buy the soda and I go back to the house with anything but when I enter into the hause my uncle have already the soda.

Submitted by 31170192 on Wed, 04/29/2020 - 18:32

Yesterday I was in the kitchen when my brother told me that the Xbox was not working, he said that the control had a lot of sensitivity and the buttons didn't respond as usual, he asked me if I knew what to do, the first thing I tought was to disconnect the console but he told me that he had already done that, so I started searching it in the internet, but moments later he told me that he had discovered that the RB button was locked, so he unlocked it.

Submitted by Ana3117 on Wed, 04/29/2020 - 17:19

A week ago, my sister had an anatomy exam, but she told me that it had been difficult for her to understand him and that she had not studied all that they were going to ask her, so she said that if she could help her exam ,at 7 in the morning, I was going to tell her the answer that she did not know and she told me that she had to get 15 out of 18 to be able to pass if she did not fail so help her and when they gave her score she got 16 out of 18.

Submitted by student31170150 on Wed, 04/29/2020 - 04:09

Yesterday I had a conversation with my brother about which premier league team is bigger? I replied that the biggest in England is Manchester United, for having more Premier League, he said he was wrong , since the best team in the premiere historically and actualemnte is Liverpool, for currently having 6 Champions League, so there should we give more weight to the national or international?

Submitted by UrielHP on Mon, 04/27/2020 - 21:38

The last day I was talking to a friend about the concert in a video game by Travis Scott, I told him that if we were going to see him and he told me that if it was not so late, why did he have to go to sleep early because he had a commitmment in the morning so we could see the concert and we had a great time that day

Submitted by GaelGarnica3c on Thu, 04/23/2020 - 19:03

I had this conversation with muy uncle, he told me youre coming with me to the ranch, AND un that day my father told me that if we could go yo the store, so my uncle told me that un that moment he had knocked the door but there was no answer AND my grandma that was un house told me that she hadnt heard the door so i get Condusef

Submitted by Ax33LCH4vez on Sun, 04/26/2020 - 17:58

Yesterday I had a conversation with my brother. He told me that if we played a videogame while we waited for the food to be ready, while we played he told me that if at night we also saw a movie and accept. It was a good day

In reply to by GaelGarnica3c

Submitted by XimenaDiaz on Mon, 04/27/2020 - 00:04

Two days ago it was my grandmother's birthday but yesterday my mom told my aunt to throw her a surprise party, my aunt told her it was a great idea. That same day my grandmother told my mom that she was going to get to the house at two o'clock because the dentist had said her office had been cancelled, so my grandmother told her she would arrive for lunch, when my mom knew this, she told my aunts that at that hour she was going to arrive to make the surprise party. When my grandmother told my mom that she had come to the house, my mom told us all not to make any noise and that when she went up the stairs they would put the morning song. When my grandmother came in, she looked at us all and told us that this nice gift was not expected. We all enjoyed the party.

In reply to by GaelGarnica3c

Submitted by Lemonjuice777 on Mon, 04/27/2020 - 19:00

One day ago, I was talking with my crush, talking about the Maserati cars, why? I really don't know why, the point is that I was not agree with the idea that everyone had "a Maserati is the best car ever made" that really get me angry, so I replay she that she could be wrong, so I gave her another point of view My point of view is that, Maserati is not the unique brand that has done that kind of cars, and then I told her that it was a better one: "Aston Martin" why? For the simple fact that they had made cars with the best ever driving in a car in a great tourism, probably she hadn't hear about Aston Martin, but now at that moment, she had already met the brand, just for me, at the end I told her that she was like a Aston Martin a perfect masterpiece... I really love her

In reply to by XimenaDiaz

Submitted by Angel3e on Wed, 04/29/2020 - 20:50

yesterday i had a conversation with my mother and he asked me if i want to see the big bang theory and i answered yes becaise i didnt have nothing to do and then we start to see the season 4 e 18 and i asked why sheldon is so inteligent but at the same time is stupid with the people and she said me because he is not sociable with people becaus when he was a kid he want to be a robot with zero felling and zero grace and i said actually have sens now

In reply to by GaelGarnica3c

Submitted by Orangeflowers on Tue, 07/30/2019 - 18:36

Hello, Last night,I had a conversation with my cousin.He lives in Canada.He came to Bangladesh after a long time.He shared a lot of experience with me which he had in Canada.He said”I visited Niagra Falls in Canada and it was one of my best moments of my life”.He said”I have taken admission in one of the best school in Canada”.Then I asked if he had make any friends,he replied “yes I have made friends from different countries as well as Canada.....
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Submitted by empty on Fri, 07/05/2019 - 12:43

Hello !!!!! we studied about reported speech just a month ago ( at English class )
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Submitted by Youjiro on Sat, 02/02/2019 - 13:26

Most memorable conversation I had yesterday was cloth store.One of my friend ask me where is the best store to buy affordable cloth in my city.I said "uniqlo is best store in my city".It sale every things with affordable price. He said"I'd like to go cloth shop because next week I'm going to go first date".He want to dress up with nice jacket and pants. Store that I recommend is eazy to get everything.
Profile picture for user KemoF

Submitted by KemoF on Fri, 08/17/2018 - 09:20

In a reported speech, I learned that there should be an agreement in the tense in a sentence, but this sounds odd to me. Could you explain a bit more about this? e.g. He said he loved me. He said he had loved me. He said he loves me. Which is which??
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Submitted by Tina - Coordinator on Thu, 08/23/2018 - 07:45

Hi KemoF,
Good question! It all depends on what he originally said, and if you think it is still true now. So if he said 'I love you' you could say:
He said he loved me (changing from present simple to past simple), or
He said he loves me (not changing the tense - especially if you think it is still true now that he loves you)
If he said 'I loved you', you could say:
He said he had loved me (past simple changing to past perfect)
If he said 'I have loved you' (for example, 'I have loved you ever since we met'), you could say:
He said he had loved me ever since we met (present perfect changing to past perfect), or
He said he has loved me ever since we met (not changing the tense - especially if you think it is still true now that he loves you).
Hope that helps!
Best wishes, the LearnEnglishTeen Team

In reply to by KemoF

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Submitted by KemoF on Thu, 08/23/2018 - 13:03

Hi Tina, Thanks millions for your kind explanation! I realized the sentence like 'He said he loves me' was not incorrect. I remembered I had learned that when we talked about "truth", we use present tense, like the Earth is round. Is that the same reason? Anyway, it's fun to know more about grammar! :)

In reply to by Tina - Coordinator

Submitted by editor_rachael on Thu, 08/23/2018 - 14:06

Hi KemoF,


Sort of! But you're right, we usually use the present simple for general truths. Our planet is round and it orbits the sun :-)


We think grammar can be fun too!


LearnEnglish Teens team

In reply to by KemoF

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Submitted by KemoF on Mon, 08/27/2018 - 13:18

Thank you very much, Rachael. LearnEnglish Teens is totally awesome!! ;-)

In reply to by editor_rachael

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