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Reported Statements

Statements in Reported Speech

Sometimes someone says a sentence, for example:

  • Direct Speech → John:”I’m going to the pub tonight”.

Later, maybe we want to tell someone else what the first person said.

  • Reported Speech → Peter: John said he was going to the pub tonight.

If you use a statement in Reported Speech, follow the steps described on our page Reported Speech – A Summary about changing the person, backshift of tenses, shifting of expressions of time/place etc.,

1. The introductory sentence

1.1. The introductory sentence in the Present Simple

If the introductory sentence is in the Present Simple, there is no backshift of tenses.

  • Direct Speech → Mary: “Susan likes chocolate.”
  • Reported Speech → Mary says (that)* Susan likes chocolate.

The introductory sentence is here: Mary says … → this sentence is in the Present Simple, so there is no backshift of tenses.

1.2. The introductory sentence in the Past Simple

If the introductory sentence is in the Past Simple, there is mostly backshift of tenses.

  • Direct Speech → Mary: “Susan likes chocolate.”
  • Reported Speech → Mary said (that)* Susan liked chocolate.

The introductory sentence is here: Mary said … → this sentence is in the Past Simple, so there is backshift of tenses.

1.3. Types of introductory words

The word say in introductory sentences can be substituted with other words, e.g.

  • add
  • apologise
  • explain
  • mention
  • remark
  • tell *
  • think

2. Change of persons/pronouns

The person/pronoun used in Direct Speech may be changed in Reported Speech, depending on the situation.

Peter and John are talking about John’ new car. Peter says to John:

  • Peter: “I really like your new car.”

Possibility 1:

John talks to his friend Susan later on:

  • Peter said (that) he really liked my new car.

Possibility 2:

Peter says to his friend Bill later on:

  • I said (that) I liked his new car.

3. Backshift of tenses

If the introductory sentence is in the Past Simple, there is backshift of tenses in Reported Speech. We shift the tense used in Direct Speech one step back in Reported Speech. If we use Past Perfect or the modals would, could, should, might, must, ought to and needn’t in Direct Speech there is possibility to shift the tense back in Reported Speech.

3.1. Present Simple → Past Simple 

Direct Speech Reported Speech
Susan: “I live in London.” Susan said (that) she lived in London.

3.2. Past Simple, Present Perfect, Past Perfect → Past Perfect

Direct Speech Reported Speech
Susan: “I lived in London.” Susan said (that) she had lived in London.
Susan: “I have lived in London.”
Susan: “I had lived in London.”

3.3. Auxiliaries, Modals

Direct Speech Reported Speech
Susan: “I will live in London.” Susan said (that) she would live in London.
Susan: “I can live in London.” Susan said (that) she could live in London.
Susan: “I may live in London.” Susan said (that) she might live in London.
Susan: “I would live in London.”

  • could
  • might
  • should
  • ought to
Susan said (that) she would live in London.

  • could
  • might
  • should
  • ought to

3.4. Present Continuous → Past Continuous

Direct Speech Reported Speech
Susan: “I‘m living in London.” Susan said (that) she was living in London.
Susan: “I was living in London.” Susan said (that) she had been living in London.
Susan: “I have been living in London.”
Susan: “I had been living in London.”

3.5. Past Continuous, Present Perfect Continuous, Past Perfect Continuous → Past Perfect Continuous

Direct Speech Reported Speech
Susan: “I was living in London.” Susan said (that) she had been living in London.
Susan: “I have been living in London.”
Susan: “I had been living in London.”

4. Shifting/Conversion of expressions of time and place

Sometimes when we change direct speech into reported speech we have to change time expressions and place too. It depends on when we heard the direct speech and when we say the reported speech.

It is Monday afternoon and Peter and John have just had lunch in a restaurant. Peter realises he has left his phone in the restaurant:

  • “I have left my phone in the restaurant.”

Possibility 1:

The next day John and Susan are in the same restaurant.

  • Peter said (that) he had left his phone here yesterday.

Possibility 2:

One day later, John talks with his colleague Michael at work. They talk about the restaurant.

  • John says to Michael → Peter said (that) he had left his phone in the restaurant the day before yesterday.
  • John says to Michael → Peter said (that) he had left his phone there the day before yesterday.
Direct Speech Reported Speech
this evening that evening
today/this day that day
these days those days
now then
a week ago a week before
last weekend the weekend before / the previous weekend
next week the following week
tomorrow the next/following day
here there

* Do not forget the person after the word tell:

  • She told me (that) …
  • She told Peter (that) …