english grammer for CBSE Students

When do we use reported speech? Sometimes someone says a sentence, for example “I’m going to the cinema tonight”. Later, maybe we want to tell someone else what the first person said.

We use a ‘reporting verb’ like ‘say’ or ‘tell’. (Click here for more about using ‘say’ and ‘tell’.) If this verb is in the present tense, it’s easy. We just put ‘she says’ and then the sentence:


Direct speech: I like ice cream.

Reported speech: She says (that) she likes ice cream.

We don’t need to change the tense, though probably we do need to change the ‘person’ from ‘I’ to ‘she’, for example. We also may need to change words like ‘my’ and ‘your’.

(As I’m sure you know, often, we can choose if we want to use ‘that’ or not in English. I’ve put it in brackets () to show that it’s optional. It’s exactly the same if you use ‘that’ or if you don’t use ‘that’.)

But, if the reporting verb is in the past tense, then usually we change the tenses in the reported speech:


Direct speech: I like ice cream.

Reported speech: She said (that) she liked ice cream.

TenseDirect SpeechReported Speech
present simpleI like ice creamShe said (that) she liked ice cream.
present continuousI am living in LondonShe said (that) she was living in London.
past simpleI bought a carShe said (that) she had bought a car OR She said (that) she bought a car.
past continuousI was walking along the streetShe said (that) she had been walking along the street.
present perfectI haven’t seen JulieShe said (that) she hadn’t seen Julie.
past perfect*I had taken English lessons beforeShe said (that) she had taken English lessons before.
WillI’ll see you laterShe said (that) she would see me later.
would*I would help, but.”She said (that) she would help but…
ShallI shall come laterShe said (that) she would come late
should*I should call my mother.She said (that) she should call her mother
might*I might be lateShe said (that) she might be late
MustI must study at the weekendShe said (that) she must study at the weekend OR She said she had to study at the weekend

Convert speech from one tense to other



He said to me, “you answered correctly”He said to me that I had answered correctly.
John said, “they went to cinema”John said that they had gone to cinema.
He said, “I made a table”He said that he had made a table.
She said, “I didn’t buy a car”She said that she had not bought a car.


They said, “we were enjoying the weather”They said that they had been enjoying.
He said to me, “I was waiting for you”He said to me that he had been waiting for me.
I said, “It was raining”I said that it had been raining.
She said, “I was not laughing”She said that she not been laughing.

PAST PERFECT changes into PAST PERFECT (tense does not change)

Direct SpeechIndirect speech
She said, “She had visited a doctor”She said that she had visited a doctor.
He said, “I had started a business”He said that he had started a business.
I said, “she had eaten the meal”I said that she had eaten the meal.
They said, “we had not gone to New York”They said they had not gone to New York.



WILL changes into WOULD

Direct SpeechIndirect speech
He said, “I will study the book”said that he would study the book.
She said, “I will buy a computer”She said that she would buy a computer.
They said to me, “we will send you gifts”They said to me that they would send you gifts.
I said, “I will not take the exam”I said that I would not take the exam.



WILL BE changes into WOULD BE

Direct SpeechIndirect speech
I said to him, “I will be waiting for him”I said to him that I would be waiting for him.
She said , “I will be shifting to new home”She said that she would be shifting to a newhome.
He said, “I will be working hard”He said that he would be working hard.
He said, “he will not be flying kite”She said that he would not be flying kites.



Direct SpeechIndirect speech
He said, “I will have finished the work”He said that he would have finished the work.
She said, “they will have passed the examination”She said that they would have passed the examination.
He said, “I will have gone”He said that he would have gone.


Occasionally, we don’t need to change the present tense into the past if the information in direct speech is still true (but this is only for things which are general facts, and even then usually we like to change the tense):


  • Direct speech: The sky is blue.
  • Reported speech: She said (that) the sky is/was blue.


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