Unlocking the Secrets of Reported Speech (Indirect Speech)


Welcome to our language learning hub, where we unravel the intricacies of English grammar. In this article, we’ll delve into the realm of reported speech, also known as indirect speech—a linguistic treasure that allows us to convey what others have said without quoting them directly. By understanding the mechanics, transformations, and nuances of reported speech, you’ll enrich your communication skills and navigate conversations with finesse. Let’s embark on this enlightening journey.

What is Reported Speech?

Reported speech, or indirect speech, is a linguistic mechanism used to convey someone else’s statements, questions, requests, or commands in a way that’s grammatically integrated into our own sentences. Instead of quoting the exact words, we paraphrase or report what was said.

Transforming Direct Speech into Reported Speech

When transforming direct speech (the exact words spoken) into reported speech, several changes occur:

  1. Pronouns: Change pronouns to match the subject of the reporting sentence.
  • Direct: “She said, ‘I am tired.'”
  • Reported: She said that she was tired.
  1. Tense Shift: Adjust verb tenses to reflect the time of reporting.
  • Direct: “He said, ‘I will call you tomorrow.'”
  • Reported: He said that he would call me the next day.
  1. Time Expressions: Adjust time expressions to reflect the time of reporting.
  • Direct: “They said, ‘We are leaving now.'”
  • Reported: They said that they were leaving then.
  1. Modals and Other Changes: Modify modal verbs, adverbs of time and place, and other expressions as needed.
  • Direct: “She said, ‘Can you help me?'”
  • Reported: She asked if I could help her.

Punctuation and Reporting Verbs

When reporting speech, use appropriate reporting verbs such as say, tell, ask, explain, etc. Pay attention to punctuation as well:

  1. If the reporting verb is in the present, past, or present perfect tense, use a comma before the reported speech.
  • She said, “I’m reading a book.”
  1. If the reporting verb is in the past, use “that” or no conjunction before the reported speech.
  • She said (that) she was reading a book.

Examples of Reported Speech

  1. Direct: “I’m going to the store,” she said.
    Reported: She said that she was going to the store.
  2. Direct: “Did you finish the report?” he asked.
    Reported: He asked if I had finished the report.
  3. Direct: “I’ll be there at 3 PM,” they told us.
    Reported: They told us they would be there at 3 PM.


Congratulations! You’ve unlocked the secrets of reported speech, a powerful tool for conveying others’ words and ideas indirectly. By understanding how to transform direct speech into reported speech, you’re equipped to navigate conversations with precision and style. As you practice and incorporate reported speech into your communication, you’ll discover its role in enhancing your linguistic finesse. Embrace the versatility of this linguistic treasure as you journey through the captivating world of language. Happy learning!


About the Author

Eleanor Mitchell

I'm Eleanor Mitchell, and I've been fortunate to teach English for a little over 20 years now, which has deeply enriched my teaching.

My aim is simple: to make English more understandable and to nurture better communication. I always strive to learn from my students, adapting my methods to suit your preferences.

Let's learn and explore language together—I'm excited to embark on this journey with you.

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