speech is often also called indirect speech. When we use reported
speech, we are usually talking about the past (because obviously
the person who spoke originally spoke in the past). The verbs therefore
usually have to be in the past too. For example:
going to the cinema".
He said he was going to the cinema.
generally move backwards in this way (the tense on the left changes
to the tense on the right):
I'm a teacher.
He said he was a teacher
I'm having lunch with my parents.
He said he was having lunch with his parents.
I've been to France three times.
He said he had been to France three times.
I've been working very hard.
He said he had been working very hard.
I bought a new car.
He said he had bought a new car.
It was raining earlier.
perfect continuous He said it had been raining earlier.
The play had started when I arrived.
NO CHANGE POSSIBLE
I'd already been living in London for five years.
NO CHANGE POSSIBLE
forms also sometimes change:
I'll come and see you soon.
He said he would come and see me soon.
I can swim under water for two minutes.
He said he could swim under water for two minutes.
All tickets must be bought in advance.
to He said that all tickets had to be bought in advance.
What shall we do about it?
He asked what we should do about it.
May I smoke?
He asked if he might smoke.
slightly more complicated with imperatives.
He told me to shut up.
Don't do that again!
+ not + infinitive
He told me not to do it again.
Please give me some money.
He asked me to give him some money.
verbs don't follow the rules
tenses do not always follow the rules shown above. For example, if
the reporting verb is in the present tense, there is no change in
the reported sentence. Also, a sentence in direct speech in a present
or future tense can remain the same if what is said is still true
or relevant. For example:
invited someone for dinner at your house, and the phone rings.
It's them! They say:
sorry, but I think I'm going to be a bit late. There's a lot of traffic.
finish speaking on the phone, you say to someone else:
was Juan. He said he thinks he's going to be late because there's a
lot of traffic.
says to you:
ill. She's got chickenpox!
to someone else:
said that María's ill. She's got chickenpox.
the following day you see María at the beach. You're surprised
and say to her:
said that you were ill. She said you had chickenpox.
to change to the past because it isn't true. María obviously
in a past tense do not always change either, because a change might
alter the meaning or just make it sound confusing. For example:
is telling you about the horrible weather:
started raining heavily when I left work.
where things get confusing:
said it had started raining heavily when he had left work (it
sounds horrible and the sentence is almost nothing but verbs).
said it had started raining heavily when he left work (is
wrong because it means it was already raining when he left work)
said it started raining heavily when he left work (is
the best version because it is accurate, short, and there is
no confusion because of the time context)
speaking, the past simple and continuous don't always need to be
a time context which makes everything clear,
another action already using the past perfect, which might alter
the meaning or make things confusing.
and place references
place references often have to change:
the next day
the day after
the next week
the week after
the day before
the week before
2 weeks before
the Saturday before
the next Saturday
the Saturday after
to the theatre last night.
He said he had gone to the theatre the night before.
a party next weekend.
He said he was having a party the next weekend.
here until next week.
He said he was staying there until the following week.
over from London 3 years ago.
He said he had come over from London 3 years before.
need to be careful with personal pronouns. They need to be changed
according to the situation. You need to know the context. For example,
there is possible confusion when you try to change reported speech
to direct speech:
She said she'd
been waiting for hours.
(Is she one person or two different people?)
I told them
they would have to ask permission.
(Are we talking about two groups of people or only one?)