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Unit 59: Reported Speech

Reported Speech

Sometimes we need to say what another person said. There are two ways to do this in English, direct speech and reported speech.

Direct Speech

Direct speech restates exactly what another person said. For example:
- Jane said, "I'm so happy today".
- The president said, "I need a vacation".

Reported Speech

Reported speech reports indirectly what another person said. For example:
- Jane said she was so happy today.
- The president said he needed a vacation.

Reported speech usually uses the past form of direct speech. So if the direct speech is in the present, the reported speech is in the past. For example:
Direct Speech - I said, "She is in her office."
Reported Speech - I said she was in her office.
Also if the direct speech is in the past, the reported speech uses the past perfect.
Direct Speech - I said, "She was in her office at lunchtime."
Reported Speech - I said she had been in her office at lunchtime. OR
- I said she was in her office at lunchtime.
In modern English the past perfect is often not necessary for past reported speech, you can simply use the past simple instead.

Here are some common verb forms in direct and reported speech.

Tense

Simple present:

Present continuous:

Simple past:


Past continuous:


Present perfect:

Past perfect:

Future:

Future continuous:


Can:

Direct / Reported Speech

I said, "She is busy". - I said she was busy.

I said, "I am working now". - I said I was working now

I said, "She was here this morning". - I said she was here this morning. OR
I said she had been here this morning.

I said "She was studying all yesterday" - I said she was studying all yesterday. OR
I said she had been studying all yesterday

I said, "She has worked here for 5 years." - I said she had worked here for 5 years.

I said, "She had worked here for 5 years." - I said she had worked here for 5 years.

I said, "She will work here from July." - I said she would work here from July.

I said, "We'll be living here for 6 months." - I said we would be living here for 6 months.

I said, "She can play the piano well." - I said she could play the piano well.

That

Reported speech is often given as part of a that-clause, especially in written or more formal language. For example:
- He said that he would arrive at 10.00.
- He said he would arrive at 10.00.
These two mean the same thing, and that can be omitted without any change in meaning.

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