Reported Speech Rules With Exercises

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Reported Speech

Owing to the nuances of the systems involved, English may be a very difficult language. But once you get hold of the fundamentals, you can really be a pro. It’s these fundamentals that will help you create a solid base. And we all know what these fundamentals are and what every language’s base is. It’s grammar, indeed. The rest of the journey becomes much easier once you get a good grip of the grammar. So, today, we’re going to talk about one of those basics that is an important part of English grammar, i.e., Reported Speech.

What is Reported Speech?

When we use the exact words spoken by someone, it is known as Direct Speech.

For example: Rita said to Seema, “I am going to bake a cake

Here we are using the exact words spoken by Rita, however reported or Indirect speech is used when we are reporting something said by someone else but we do not use the exact words. So, we use this form of speech to talk about the past. For example:

Rita told Seema that she is going to bake a cake

In this case, we haven’t used the exact words of Rita but conveyed her message.

Reporting Clause and Reported Speech

The words that come before the inverted commas is known as the reporting clause, in the example given above, the reporting clause will be – Rita said to Seema, where ‘said’ is the verb and is known as the reporting verb. The words which are written within the inverted commas is known as the Reported speech, in the above example, the reported speech is “I am going to bake a cake”.

Rules for Changing Direct Speech to Indirect or Reported Speech

Now let us take a look at the rules for changing the direct speech to indirect or reported speech –

  • First and foremost, we do not use inverted commas in reported speech which must be clear from the example given above.
  • We use conjunctions like ‘if’, ‘whether’ after the reporting verb in reported speech
  • The reporting verb’s tense is never altered.
  • The verb of reporting varies according to sense: it can be told, inquired, asked, etc.

For example:
Direct: Mohan said to Sohan, “I am going to school”
Reported: Mohan told Sohan that he is going to school

Rules for Pronouns

  1. We change the first-person pronouns (I, my, us, our, me, we) as per the subject of the reporting verb in the reported speech.
  2. We change the second person pronouns (you, your, yourself) as per the object of the reporting verb in the reported speech.
  3. There is no change in the third person pronouns.

For example:

Direct: Rita said, “I like the book.”
Reported: Rita said that she likes the book.

Direct: Arun said to me, “Do you like to eat cakes?”
Reported: Arun asked me if I liked eating cakes.

Direct: Ravi said, “I enjoy fishing.”
Reported: Ravi said that he enjoys fishing.

Rules for Change in Tenses

The tense of the reported speech is not changed if the reporting verb is in the present or the future tense. If a historical fact, a universal reality or a habitual fact is conveyed in a direct speech. The indirect speech tense will not change. If the reporting verb is in the past tense, then it will change the tense of the reported speech as follows:

Direct Reported
Simple Present Simple Past
Present Continuous Past continuous
Present Perfect Past Perfect
Simple Past Past Perfect
Past Continuous Past Perfect Continuous

Examples:

Direct: Reema says, “I am going out.”
Reported: Reema says that she is going out.

Direct: Ramesh said, “Honesty is the best policy.”
Reported: Ramesh said that honesty is the best policy.

Direct: Vishnu said that, “India gained independence in 1947.”
Reported: Vishnu said that India gained independence in 1947.

Direct: Akshat will say, “I want a slice of cake.”
Reported: Akshat will say that he wants a slice of cake.

Direct: Reena said, “I am writing a novel.”
Reported: Reena said that she was writing a novel.

Direct: Ayushi said, “I was working on my project.”
Reported: Ayushi said that she had been working on her project.

Rules for Changing Statements into Reported Speech

  • The “said to” reporting verb is changed to “told,” “replied,” “remarked,”
  • We do not change the object i.e., the reporting verb is not followed by an object.
  • We drop the inverted commas and use a conjunction to join the reporting clause and speech/
  • The laws are followed for the changing of pronouns, tenses, etc.

Examples:

Direct: Ramu said, “I saw a lion in the forest.”
Indirect: Ramu said that he had seen a lion in the forest.

Direct: Satish said to me, “I am very happy here.”
Indirect: Satish told me that he was very happy there.

Direct: He said, “I can do this work.”
Indirect: He said that he could do that work.

Rules for Changing Interrogative Sentences into Reported Speech

  • The reporting verb “say” is transformed into “ask, inquire,”
  • By inserting the subject before the verb, the interrogative clause is converted into a declaration and the full stop is inserted at the end of the sentence.
  • The wh-word is repeated in the sentence if the interrogative sentence has a wh-word (who, where, where, how, why, etc). This works as a conjunction.
  • If the asking phrase is a yes-no answer style phrase (with auxiliary verbs are, were, were, do, did, have, shall, etc.), then if or whether is used as a conjunction.
  • In the reported speech, the auxiliaries do, did, does drop in a positive question.
  • The conjunction after the reporting clause is not used.

Examples:

Direct: I said to him, “Where are you going?”
Indirect: Tasked him where he was going.

Direct: He said to me, “Will you go there?”
Indirect: He asked me if I would go there.

Direct: My friend said to Deepak, “Have you ever been to Agra?”
Indirect: My friend asked Deepak if he had ever been to Agra.

Rules for Changing Commands and Requests into Indirect Speech

The reporting verb is changed into command, order, say, enable, submit, etc. in imperative sentences that have commands.

By positioning it before the verb, the imperative mood is converted into the infinitive mood. The auxiliary ‘do’ is dropped in the case of negative sentences, and ‘to’ is substituted after ‘not

Examples:

Direct: She said to me, “Open the window.”
Indirect: She ordered me to open the window.

Direct: The captain said to the soldiers, “Attack the enemy.”
Indirect: The captain commanded the soldiers to attack the enemy.

Direct: I said to him, “Leave this place at once.”
Indirect: I told him to leave that place at once.

Other Changes

Direct Indirect
this that
there those
now then
Here There
today That day
tomorrow The next day
yesterday The previous day
last night The previous night
can Could
may Might
shall Should
will Would
ago Before
just Then
come Go

Must Read: Everything About Active and Passive Voice!

Exercises

  1. The students said, “Alas! I wasted my time last year.”
  2. She said, “Goodbye friends!”
  3. He said to me, “May you live long”
  4. The Principals said to the peon, “Let this boy out”
  5. He said to me, “Please take a look”
  6. She said, “Where is your father?”
  7. Ramesh says, “I have written a letter”
  8. She said, “Arun is reading a book”
  9. He said, “The sun rises in the east”
  10. Rama said to me, “When are you leaving for Kolkata?”

We hope that this blog helped you learn about the basics of Reported Speech. Planning for English proficiency exams like IELTS or TOEFL? Our Leverage Edu experts are here to guide you through your exam preparation with the best guidance, study materials and online classes! Sign up for a free demo with us now!

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2 comments
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