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    Grammar notes: reported speech

    Hessa Ibrahim

    Posts : 36
    Join date : 2012-03-01

    Grammar notes: reported speech

    Post by Hessa Ibrahim on Sat May 12, 2012 9:23 am

    Grammar notes: reported speech


    Reported 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:

    "I'm going to the cinema".
    He said he was going to the cinema.

    Basic tense chart

    The tenses generally move backwards in this way (the tense on the left changes to the tense on the right):

    present simple
    I'm a teacher.

    past simple
    He said he was a teacher

    present continuous
    I'm having lunch with my parents.

    past continuous.
    He said he was having lunch with his parents.

    present perfect simple
    I've been to France three times.

    past perfect simple
    He said he had been to France three times.

    present perfect continuous
    I've been working very hard.

    past perfect continuous
    He said he had been working very hard.

    past simple
    I bought a new car.

    past perfect
    He said he had bought a new car.

    past continuous
    It was raining earlier.

    past perfect continuous
    He said it had been raining earlier.

    past perfect
    The play had started when I arrived.

    past perfect

    past perfect continuous
    I'd already been living in London for five years.

    past perfect continuous

    Other verb forms

    Other verb 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.

    had 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.

    Things are slightly more complicated with imperatives.

    positive imperative
    Shut up!

    tell + infinitive
    He told me to shut up.

    negative imperative
    Don't do that again!

    tell + not + infinitive
    He told me not to do it again.

    imperatives as requests
    Please give me some money.

    ask + infinitive
    He asked me to give him some money.

    When verbs don't follow the rules

    The verb 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:

    You've invited someone for dinner at your house, and the phone rings. It's them! They say:
    I'm sorry, but I think I'm going to be a bit late. There's a lot of traffic.

    After you finish speaking on the phone, you say to someone else:
    That was Juan. He said he thinks he's going to be late because there's a lot of traffic.

    Another example:

    A friend says to you:
    María's ill. She's got chickenpox!

    You say to someone else:
    Laura said that María's ill. She's got chickenpox.

    However, the following day you see María at the beach. You're surprised and say to her:
    Laura said that you were ill. She said you had chickenpox.

    This has to change to the past because it isn't true. María obviously isn't ill.

    Direct statements in a past tense do not always change either, because a change might alter the meaning or just make it sound confusing. For example:

    A friend is telling you about the horrible weather:
    It started raining heavily when I left work.

    This is where things get confusing:

    He said it had started raining heavily when he had left work (it sounds horrible and the sentence is almost nothing but verbs).

    He said it had started raining heavily when he left work (is wrong because it means it was already raining when he left work)

    He 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)

    Generally speaking, the past simple and continuous don't always need to be changed if:

    there is a time context which makes everything clear,


    there is another action already using the past perfect, which might alter the meaning or make things confusing.

    Time and place references

    Time and place references often have to change:

    that day
    this week
    that week
    the following day
    the next day
    the day after

    next week
    the following week
    the next week
    the week after

    the previous day
    the day before

    last week
    the previous week
    the week before


    2 weeks ago
    2 weeks previously
    2 weeks before

    that night
    last Saturday
    the previous Saturday
    the Saturday before

    next Saturday
    the following Saturday
    the next Saturday
    the Saturday after
    that Saturday


    I went to the theatre last night.
    He said he had gone to the theatre the night before.

    I'm having a party next weekend.
    He said he was having a party the next weekend.

    I'm staying here until next week.
    He said he was staying there until the following week.

    I came over from London 3 years ago.
    He said he had come over from London 3 years before.

    Personal pronouns

    You also 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?)
    Afnan Shaikh

    Posts : 54
    Join date : 2012-04-02
    Age : 23
    Location : Al-Dammam

    Re: Grammar notes: reported speech

    Post by Afnan Shaikh on Sat May 12, 2012 10:08 pm

    Thanks Hessa
    you helped me a lot

    maram alwadi

    Posts : 13
    Join date : 2012-04-08

    Re: Grammar notes: reported speech

    Post by maram alwadi on Tue May 15, 2012 3:16 am

    thnx alt [b]

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