Reported speech

Reporting orders and requests


When we want to report an order or request, we can use a verb like 'tell' with a to-clause: He told me to go away. The pattern is verb + indirect object + to-clause. The indirect object is the person spoken to. Other verbs used in reporting orders and requests in this way are: command, order, warn, ask, advise, invite, beg, teach, & forbid.

Direct speech Indirect speech
The doctor said to me, "Stop smoking!". The doctor told me to stop smoking.
"Get out of the car!" said the policeman. The policeman ordered him to get out of the car.
"Could you please be quiet," she said. She asked me to be quiet.
The man with the gun said to us, "Don't move!" The man with the gun warned us not to move.

Requests for objects are reported using the pattern "asked for" + object.

Direct speech Indirect speech
"Can I have an apple?", she asked. She asked for an apple.
"Can I have the newspaper, please?" He asked for the newspaper.
"May I have a glass of water?" he said. He asked for a glass of water.
"Sugar, please." She asked for the sugar.
"Could I have three kilos of onions?" He asked for three kilos of onions.


Suggestions are most often reported using the verbs suggest, insist, recommend, demand, request, and propose followed by a that clause. 'That' and 'should' are optional in these clauses, as shown in the first two examples below. Note that suggest, recommend, and propose may also be followed by a gerund in order to eliminate the indirect object (the receiver of the suggestion) and thus make the suggestion more polite. This usage of the gerund is illustrated in the fourth and fifth examples below.

Direct speech Indirect speech
She said, "Why don't you get a mechanic to look at the car?" She suggested that I should get a mechanic to look at the car. OR
She suggested I should get a mechanic to look at the car. OR
She suggested that I get a mechanic to look at the car.OR
She suggested I get a mechanic to look at the car.
"Why don't you go to the doctor?" he said. He suggested I go to the doctor. OR
He suggested that I go to the doctor. OR
He suggested I should go to the doctor.OR
He suggested that I should go to the doctor.
"It would be a good idea to see the dentist", said my mother. My mother suggested I see the dentist.
The dentist said, "I think you should use a different toothbrush". The dentist recommended using a different toothbrush.
You said, "I don't think you have time to see the dentist this week." You suggested postponing my visit to the dentist.
I said, "I don't think you should see the dentist this week." suggested postponing your visit to the dentist.
My manager said, "I think we should examine the budget carefully at this meeting." My manager proposed that we examine the budget carefully at the meeting.
"Why don't you sleep overnight at my house?" she said. She suggested that I sleep overnight at her house.
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