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English Grammar Reference: Reported Speech

Look at this sentence:

Direct speech: “I am tired.”
Reported Speech: She said she was tired.
In reported speech we always go back one tense.

Direct Speech - Present simple
Reported Speech - Past simple
“I live in Spain.”
“They sing well.”
She said (that) she lived in Spain.
He said (that) they sang well.

Direct Speech - Present continuous
Reported Speech - Past continuous
“I am living in Spain.”
“They are sleeping.”
She said (that) she was living in Spain.
He said (that) they were sleeping.

Direct Speech - Past simple
Reported Speech - Past perfect
“I lived in Spain last year.”
“We worked yesterday.”
She said (that) she had lived in Spain the year before.
He said (that) we had worked the day before.

Direct Speech - Past continuous
Reported Speech - Past perfect continuous
“I was living in Spain.”
“She was having lunch.”
She said (that) she had been living in Spain.
He said (that) she had been having lunch.

Direct Speech - Present perfect simple
Reported Speech - Past perfect simple
“I have lived in Spain.”
“I’ve had breakfast.”
She said (that) she had lived in Spain.
He said (that) he’d had breakfast.

Direct Speech - Present perfect continuous
Reported Speech - Past perfect continuous
“I have been living in Spain for 10 years.”
“They’ve been going out together since 1999.”
She said (that) she had been living in Spain for 10 years.
He said (that) they’d been going out together since 1999.


Direct Speech - Future with going to
Reported Speech - Past perfect
“I'm going to live in Spain next year.”

“They're going to get married next summer ”
She said (that) she was going to live in Spain the following year.
They said (that) they were going to get married the next summer.

 

Will

In reported speech will becomes would.

Direct Speech - Future with will
Reported Speech
“I will live in Spain.”
"I'll help you."
She said (that) she would live in Spain.
He said he'd help me.

Direct Speech - Future perfect simple
Reported Speech
"I will have lived in Spain by 2020.”
“They will have finished work by the time you arrive.”
She said (that) she would have lived in Spain by 2020.
He said (that) they would have finished work by the time you arrived.

Direct Speech - Future perfect continuous
Reported Speech
“I will have been living in Spain for 5 months.”

“She’ll have finished eating by the time you get home.”
She said (that) she would have been living in Spain for 5 months.
He said she’d have finished eating by the time he got home.

 

Modal verbs

can

Direct Speech - can
Reported Speech - could
I can drive.
They can go.
She said (that) she could drive.
He said they could go.

could, could have, might, might have, needn't, needn't have, ought to, ought to have, should, should have, used to do not change in reported speech.

Direct Speech
Reported Speech
I could go.
They could have gone.
She might be at home.
I might have seen him.
You needn't pay.
She needn't have called.
We ought to pay attention.
She ought to have studied more.
They should help.
You should have done better.
I used to play cricket.
He said he could go.
She said they could have gone.
They said they might be at home.
I said I might have seen him.
He said you needn't pay.
He said you needn't have called.
He said we ought to pay attention.
They said she ought to have studied more.
You said they should help.
He said you should have done better.
I said I used to play cricket.

Note that in conversation we often use the same tense.

Direct Speech
Reported Speech
"I'm tired."
"I'm going out."
She said she's tired.
He said he's going out.

However, when we write it is better to go back one tense because it may be read ten years later.
For the same reason, when we write we should not use expressions like "this morning" or "next week". We should use the following:

Direct Speech
Reported Speech
today
this morning
this afternoon
this evening
this week
this month
this year
tonight
tomorrow
tomorrow morning
tomorrow afternoon
tomorrow evening
next week
next month
next year
yesterday
yesterday morning
yesterday afternoon
yesterday evening 
that day
that morning
that afternoon
that evening
that week
that month
that year
that night
the next day/ the following day
the next morning/ the following morning
the next afternoon/ the following afternoon
the next evening/ the following evening
the next week/ the following week
the next month/ the following month
the next year/ the following year
the day before/ the previous day
the morning before/ the previous morning
the afternoon before/ the previous afternoon
the evening before/ the previous evening

We can't say here or this or come or bring in reported speech because they are words which are used for a certain place you are at the time you speak.

Direct Speech
Reported Speech
"Come here and bring me your book!"
"This is a great book."
He told me to go there and take my book.
He said it was a great book.

 

Giving orders, making requests

When someone tells someone to do something or asks someone to do something, we use the infinitive after the object.

Direct Speech - order
Reported Speech
"Do the dishes!”
Don't talk so much!”
She told me to do the dishes.
He told him not to talk so much.

Direct Speech - request
Reported Speech
"Can you do the dishes, please?”
Would you mind not talking so much?”
She asked me to do the dishes.
He asked him not to talk so much.

 

See also:

English Grammar Reference: Say and tell