This page has been archived and is no longer updated. Find out more about page archiving.
Skip to main contentAccess keys helpA-Z index

 
You are in: Learning English > The Flatmates
Learning English - The Flatmates  
The Flatmates
Language Point
Navigation spacer Navigation spacer  
 
Archive Language Point 26
Language Point logo

Reported speech

Helen and Michal in the kitchen
When we want to tell someone else what we or someone else has said we can use either direct or reported (or indirect speech).

In Episode 25 Michal said to Alice "I don't know how to cook" using direct speech.

But in today's episode he said to Helen "I was just telling Alice I didn't know how to cook" using reported speech.

The reporting verb

In reported speech, the first verb is usually in the past tense for example:
He said that he was trying to give up fast food.
He told Alice he missed his mum's cooking.
He explained to Helen that he wanted to eat better.

However, if the reporting verb is in the present tense, it isn't changed in reported speech.
Michal says "I want to make pudding."
He says he wants to make pudding.

Modal verbs

Some model verbs change in reported speech:
Direct
speech
Reported
speech
can could
willwould
musthad to

While some others don't:
Direct
speech
Reported
speech
wouldwould
shouldshould
couldcould
mustmust
mightmight


That

You can leave out that in reported speech:
Michal said that he was trying to give up fast food.
Michal said he was trying to give up fast food.

He told Alice that he missed his mum's cooking.
He told Alice he missed his mum's cooking

Pronouns

Pronouns can change in reported speech depending on who the reported speech is directed to. For example:
Michal said "I want to give up fast food" changes to:
"He said he wanted to give up fast food" when Alice is telling Helen what Michal said.

Alice (talking to Michal) said "I'll make you a cup of tea" changes to:
"She said she would make me a cup of tea" when Michal tells Helen what Alice said.

But pronouns don't always change. For example:
Tim said "We're going to the pub later" talking to Michal (about Michal, Alice and Helen), changes to:
"He said we were going to the pub later" when Michal tells Helen what Tim said.

Vocabulary:

to fly off the handle (v, informal): to be very angry

a pudding (n): a dessert or a sweet

Most Recent

Last 3 episodes

 

Last 3 language points

 

Last 3 quizzes

 

What's next?

What's next logoThe quiz

Go back

Go back logoThe episode