Reported speech

Reported speech

Reported speech

Reported speech is also known as Indirect speech.

When do we use it? Sometimes someone says a sentence, for example "I'm going to the cinema tonight". Later, maybe we want to tell someone else what the first person said.

In reported speech the tenses, word-order and pronouns may be different from those in the original sentence.It isn’t always necessary to change the tense. If something is still true now – he still works in Italy – we can use the present simple in the reported sentence.

Distinction must be made between direct speech and reported speech.

Direct speech Reported speech
She says: "I like tuna fish." She says that she likes tuna fish.
She said: "I'm visiting Paris next weekend" She said that she was visiting Paris the following weekend

reported speech


  1. Direct and indirect speech can be a source of confusion for English learners. Let's first define the terms, then look at how to talk about what someone said, and how to convert speech from direct to indirect or vice-versa.
  2. Indirect speech focuses more on the content of what someone said rather than their exact words. In indirect speech, the structure of the reported clause depends on whether the speaker is reporting a statement, a question or a command.
  3. When we report what people say, we usually change the tense of the verbs to reflect that we are reporting – not giving direct speech. This pattern is followed when we report questions and there are also other important changes between direct questions and reported questions.
  4. In the sentence "James said that he was my neighbour", said is a reporting verb (was is a reported verb). There are other reporting verbs we can use depending on the statement. We can also use the verbs like told, offered and promised. Let's take a look at some examples.