Reported speech – English grammar (with video!)

Use reported speech to share information

We use reported speech to share information that we heard from another person or information that we got from TV, newspaper, Internet etc. This English grammar is very common in English conversation.

There are two ways to use reported speech to talk about something that someone told us. 

1. We can “quote” the person. 

Cheryl said, “I’m busy.” 

You’ll see this way used in written English, like books or magazine and newspaper articles.

2. We change the verb tense and change the pronoun. 

From our first example ~ Cheryl saidI’m busy.”

In conversation we will change the verb tense (am changes to was) and change the pronoun (I changes to she)
Cheryl said “I’m busy.” Becomes

Cheryl said she was busy.

Reported speech Cheryl is busy.

More reported speech examples

“I only have $4.”
~ Mark said he only had 4 dollars.

“I’m not worried about it.”
~ Kristen said she wasn’t worried about it.

Reported speech “I’m not worried about it.”
~ Kristen said she wasn’t worried about it.

If we report the speech of more than 1 person, we use the pronoun they.
“Darryl and I will stop by later.”
~ Mike and Darryl said they would stop by later.

When we report what someone has told us is possible in the future the verb can becomes could
“I can go…”
“He could go…”
and if they tell us about something that is going to happen the verb will becomes would.
“I will go…”
“She would go…”

Daniel: “I can meet you at 5:30.”
Daniel said he could meet us at 5:30. 

Paul: “We can have lunch with you and your wife on Thursday.” 
Paul said they could have lunch with us on Thursday.

Brenda: “I won’t be in town on Saturday.” (Won’t is a contraction of will not.)
~ Brenda said she wouldn’t be in town on Saturday. (In this example would not is used as the past tense of will notWouldn’t is the contraction of would not.)

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From the news, TV, Internet etc.

We also use this grammar when we talk about something that we heard from TV news, the radio or read in the newspaper or on the Internet. Even if we read the information, we still use the verb said to share what we have learned. When we report information from these sources we use the pronoun it.

“I read the paper (newspaper) this morning at breakfast and it said it was gonna rain today.”

Reported speech The paper said it will rain today.

Reported speech can also be reporting exactly what someone has told you.
The newspaper said that it will be sunny all week. (It is a pronoun in this sentence that means the weather, we understand this from the adjective sunny.)

“George said Karen got a new job.”

When we report exactly what someone said we don’t have to change the verb to past tense.

“Cheryl said she is busy.”

“Kathy said the new James Bond movie is great.”

Kathy said the new James Bond movie is great.

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