sábado, 28 de julho de 2012

Reported speech

Reported Speech (also referred to as ‘indirect speech’) refers to a sentence reporting what someone has said. It is almost always used in spoken English.
As a rule when you report something someone has said you go back a tense: (the tense on the left changes to the tense on the right). This is because when we use reported speech, we are usually talking about a time in the past (because obviously the person who spoke originally spoke in the past). The basic rules for backshift when transforming direct speech into reported speech are:
Direct speechIndirect speech
Present simple 
She said, “It’s cold.”
Past simple 
She said it was cold.
Present continuous 
She said, “I’m teaching English online.”
Past continuous 
She said she was teaching English online.
Present perfect simple 
She said, “I’ve been on the web since 1999.”
Past perfect simple
She said she had been on the web since 1999.
Present perfect continuous 
She said, “I’ve been teaching English for seven years.”
Past perfect continuous 
She said she had been teaching English for seven years.
Past simple 
She said, “I taught online yesterday.”
Past perfect 
She said she had taught online the day before.
Past continuous 
She said, “I was teaching earlier.”
Past perfect continuous 
She said she had been teaching earlier.
Past perfect 
She said, “The lesson had already started when he arrived.”
Past perfect 
NO CHANGE – She said the lesson had already started when he arrived.
Past perfect continuous
She said, “I’d already been teaching for five minutes.”
Past perfect continuous 
NO CHANGE – She said she’d already been teaching for five minutes.
Exceptions –> In up-to-date reporting and when reporting a universal truth or law of nature, the verb tenses can either change or remain the same. For example: He said Paris is/was the capital of France.

Modal verb forms also change:

Direct speechIndirect speech
She said, “I’ll teach English online tomorrow.”
She said she would teach English online tomorrow.
She said, “I can teach English online.”
She said she could teach English online.
She said, “I must have a computer to teach English online.”
had to 
She said she had to have a computer to teach English online.
She said, “What shall we learn today?”
She asked what we should learn that day.
She said, “May I open a new browser?”
She asked if she might open a new browser.
Note! – There is no change to could, would, should, might and ought to.

Time change

If the reported sentence contains an expression of time, you must change it to fit in with the time of reporting.
For example we need to change words like here and yesterday if they have different meanings at the time and place of reporting.
Today+ 24 hours – Indirect speech
“Today’s lesson is on presentations.”She said the lesson of the day before was on presentations.
Expressions of time if reported on a different day
this (evening)that (evening)
todaythat day…
these (days)those (days)
(a week) ago(a week) before
last weekendthe weekend before last / the previous weekend
next (week)the following (week)
tomorrowthe next/following day
In addition, if you report something that someone said in a different place to where you heard it you must change the place (here) to the place (there). For example:
At workAt home
“How long have you worked here?”She asked me how long I’d worked there.

Pronoun change

In reported speech, the pronoun often changes to match the subject of the sentence. For example:
teach English online.”She said she teaches English online.
There are special reported sentences one needs to be careful with:


Reporting questions are usually introduced by ask, inquire, wonder, want to know, etc. When reporting questions, it is especially important to pay attention to sentence order. When reporting yes/ no questions connect the reported question using ‘if’. When reporting questions using question words (why, where, when, etc.) use the question word.
For example:
  • She asked, “Do you want to come with me?” BECOMES She asked me if I wanted to come with her.
  • Dave asked, “Where did you go last weekend?” BECOMES Dave asked me where I had gone the previous weekend.

Commands, requests, suggestions

To report commands, instructions, requests or suggestions, we use an appropriate introductory verb – ask, order, beg, suggest, tell, etc – and the to-infinitive, -ing form or that-clause depending on the verb. Check this list of reporting verbs if in doubt.
For example:
  • “Stop the car!”the policeman said to him BECOMES The policeman ordered him to stop the car.
  • “How about going to the cinema?”, I said to them BECOMES I suggested going to the cinema.
Did you say you need any further practice? Find it at ESL tests
Following the unit, I’d like you to practise your reported speech by quoting some of our politicians. Check this web www.brainyquote.com to see some of their most memorable quotes. John F. Kennedy, for example, said:
When written in Chinese, the word “crisis” is composed of two characters. One represents danger and the other represents opportunity.

From: Your English Lessons Blog

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