Reported speech

Parent Category: Littérature Category: Anglais

In English, we have 2 ways of relating what somebody has said: We can use the direct speech and the indirect speech


Direct speech

Peter said: I the lost my book


Indirect speech (reported speech)

Peter said that he had lost his keys.

Remarks

  • In direct speech, we repeat the exact words of the speaker. We put the words in inverted commas " " or « », a colon(:) is immediately before the remark or the utterance
  • In indirect speech, we do not use the exact words of the speaker, but we put the idea, we give the exact meaning of the remark

Example:

Joseph said train will be late. Joseph said that train would be late.
Paul explained: “I never eat meat ". Paul explained that he never ate meat.
Tom said: “Ann ate all the bananas". Tom said that Ann (she) had eaten all the bananas.
The teacher said: "I will see your father tomorrow". The teacher said that he would see my father the next day.

Some changes

To turn a statement from direct to reported speech, the verb changes as follows, if the introductory verb is the past tense. Future changes to conditional
The present →  past tense
the past tense → past perfect
the present perfect → past perfect
Future → conditional

Punctuation:

The colon (:) changes to "that".
Mary said: I have done my homework
Mary said that she had done her homework.
The pronouns and the possessive adjectives change from the first person to the 3rd person. I → he (she), my → his (her)
NB: If the speaker is reporting his own words there is no change.
I said: "I like my new dress"
I said that I liked my new dress.

Mary said : "I want to seat on the balcony
Mary said that she wanted to seat on the balcony

Mary said "Paul, I want to seat on the balcony"
Mary told Paul that she wanted to seat on the balcony.

Talo = It's my birthday today
Talo said that it was his birthday that day.

Talo to Bella = It is my birthday
Talo told Bella that it was his birthday that day.

The oracle: "wooden walls will protect the city"
The oracle said that wooden walls would protect the city.

The oracle to Athenians: "wooden walls will protect the city"
The oracle told Athenians that wooden walls would protect the city.


Adverbs of time and adverbial phrases

The teacher said : "I will see your father tomorrow"
The teacher said that he would see (my/her) father the next day

today → that day
yesterday → the day before
the day before yesterday → two day before
tomorrow → the next day/the following day
the after tomorrow → in two days time
Next week / next year →the following week / year
last day / last week →the pronouns day / year
a year ago →a year before / the previous year
here →there
this → that


Some verbs that can be used as introductory verb: asked, told, begged, advised, inquired, explained.