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Reported Commands and Requests

1. Basic Points

There is no backshift of tenses with commands/requests/offers/promises etc., in Reported Speech.

You only have to change the person and shift expressions of time/place as described on our page Reported Speech – A Summary

2. Reported Commands.

Form

  • affirmative commands → to + infinitive
  • negative commands → not + to + infinitive

2.1. Affirmative commands

  • Direct Speech → Mum: “Tidy your room.”
  • Reported Speech → Mum told me to tidy my room.

2.2. Negative commands

  • Direct Speech → Policeman: “Don’t park there.”
  • Reported Speech → The policeman told me not to park there.

2.3. The introductory sentence in commands etc.,

The word tell is often used in introductory sentences in Reported Commands but others are possible such as order, insist, command etc.,

Direct Speech

  • Dad: “Do your homework.”

Reported Speech

  • Dad told me to do my homework.

3. Reported Requests etc

Requests are when someone asks you to do something in a polite way.

Form

  • affirmative request → asked meto + infinitive
  • negative request → asked menot + to + infinitive

3.1. Affirmative commands

  • Direct Speech → Speaker: “Could you close the window, please?”
  • Reported Speech → She asked me to close the window.

3.2. Negative commands

  • Direct Speech → Speaker: “Could you not make so much .”
  • Reported Speech → She asked me not to make so much noise.

4. Other Reporting verbs

There are many other reporting verbs that can be used depending on the meaning in Direct Speech, e.g.

  • advise → The doctor advised me to stop smoking.
  • promise → My dad promised to buy me a football.
  • agree → We agreed to meet on Saturday.
  • offer → He offered to drive me to the airport.

There is no backshift of tenses, no matter which tense is used in the introductory sentence and the pattern should be clear.

5. Suggestions

This reporting verb is an exception. Here is how it works

Direct Speech

  • Dad: “Let’s go to the match.”

Reported Speech

  • Dad suggested going to the match.
  • Dad suggested that we go to the match.

Do not use the infinitive after suggest. Dad suggested to go to the match.