Direct Speech and Reported Speech
* Direct Speech is the exact words someone said. We use quotation marks in Direct Speech.
"I won't be back before 7:00," he said
* Reported Speech is the exact meaning of what someone said but not the exact words. We do not use quotation marks in Reported speech.
He said he wouldn't be back before 7:00.
Say - Tell - Ask
We can use the verbs say and tell in direct and reported speech.
* Say is used with or without a personal object. When used with a personal object, it is always followed by the proposition to (said to me).
(Direct Speech) He said to me, "I can fix it." → (Reported speech) He said (that) he could fix it.
* Tell is always followed by a personal object (told me),
(Direct Speech) "I can do it," he said to me. → (Reported speech) He told me he could do it.
* Ask is used in reported questions and commands. Ask is also used in direct questions when it is followed by the person the words were spoken to.
He said to me, "Please don't go!" → He asked me not to go.
He asked, "Are you OK?" → He asked me if I was OK.
|Expressions with say||say good morning / evening. etc., say something / nothing, etc., say a few words, say so, say no more, say for certain, etc.|
|Expressions with tell||Tell the truth, tell a lie, tell (sb) the time, tell sb one's name, tell a story, tell a secret, tell sb the way, tell one from another, tell sb's fortune, tell sb so, tell the difference, etc.|
|Expressions with ask||ask a favour, ask the time, ask a question, ask the price, etc.|
Changing from Direct into Reported Speech (Statements)
“I work hard,” he said.
“I am working hard," he said.
“I have worked hard," he said.
“I worked hard," he said.
“I will work hard,” he said.
“I have been working hard,” he said.
“I am going to work harder,” he said.
“I can work harder,” he said.
“I may work harder,” he said.
“I must work harder," he said.
“I should work harder." he said.
“I ought to work harder." he said.
“Do you work hard enough?" she said to him.
"Work harder," she said to him.
He said (that) he worked hard.
He said (that) he was working hard.
He said (that) he had worked hard.
He said (that) he had worked hard.
He said (that) he would work hard.
He said (that) he had been working hard.
He said (that) he was going to work harder.
He said (that) he could work harder.
He said (that) he might work harder.
He said (that) he had to/must work harder.
He said (that) he should work harder.
He said (that) he ought to work harder.
She asked him if he worked hard enough.
She told him to work harder.
* Inverted commas are omitted in Reported Speech. That is optional in reported sentences.
“I'm going out,” he said. → He said (that) he was going out.
* When the reporting verb (said, told, etc.) is in the past, all the following verbs usually change into a past form too.
“I enjoy dancing,” she said. → She said she enjoyed dancing.
* However, the tenses do not change in Reported Speech when:
a) the reporting verb (said, told, etc.) is in the Present, Future or Present Perfect tense.
“The station is far from here,” he says. → He says the station is far from here.
b) the speaker expresses general truths or laws of nature.
“Water turns into ice,” he said. → He said water turns into ice. (law of nature)
* If the speaker expresses something which is believed to be true, the tenses may change or remain unchanged. If something untrue is expressed, then the tenses definitely change.
“She likes strawberries very much.” he said, (true) → He said she likes/liked strawberries very much.
“Canada is a poor country”, he said. (untrue) → He said Canada was a poor country.
* The Past Simple changes into the Past Perfect or can remain the same. When the reported sentence contains a time clause, the tenses do not change.
“I was early for the meeting,” she said. → She said she was/had been early for the meeting.
“While I was staying in Madrid, I met Pedro twice.” she said. → She said she had met/met Pedro twice while she was staying in Madrid.
* The Past Perfect and the Past Continuous usually remain the same in Reported Speech.
“I was watching TV while Ann was reading a book.” → He said he was watching TV while Ann was reading a book.