4. He said there had been a hold-up
Reported Speech

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Direct Speech vs. Reported Speech

Direct Speech and Reported Speech (Indirect Speech) are used as follows:

How do I form the Reported Speech?

Reported Speech implies a backshift in time. This backshift is reflected in the verb tense, but also in other elements of the sentence (demonstratives, adverbs).

Backshift of verb tenses

Backshift of tenses Direct Speech Reported Speech
Present Simple → Past Simple "John is the reporter", he said. He said that John was the reporter.
Present Continuous → Past Continuous "I am writing the newsletter", she said. She said that she was writing the newsletter.
Past Simple → Past Perfect "The radio station closed in June", Mark told me. Mark told me that the radio station had closed in June.
Present Perfect → Past Perfect "The co-anchor has arrived", Jeremy announced. Jeremy announced that the co-anchor had arrived.
Past Perfect – no change "The news had started before dinner time", they informed me. They informed me that the news had started before dinner time.
Past Continuous →
no change / Past Perfect Continuous
Jane: "I was reading the newspaper at 5 o'clock." Jane claimed that she was reading / had been reading at 5 o'clock.
Present Perfect Continuous →
Past Perfect Continuous
Sally: "The victim has been shaking for two hours." Sally reported that the victim had been shaking for two hours.
Past Perfect Continuous – no change The reporter: "They had been looking for clues all evening." The reporter said that they had been looking for clues all evening.
Future Simple with WillWould "I will cover that story", Mike suggested. Mike suggested that he would cover that story.
Be going to Future → Was going to "They are going to arrive at the crime scene", said Wanda. Wanda said that they were going to arrive at the crime scene.
Modal Can → Modal Could "I can give you a brochure", the agent said. The agent said that he could give me a brochure.
Modal May → Modal Might The editor warned: "The publishing company may reject it." The editor warned us that the publishing company might reject it.
Modal MustHad to "We must contact the typography", he said. He said that we had to contact the typography.
Modals Would, Could, Should – no change "We should choose a different headline", said Beatrice. Beatrice said that we should choose a different headline.

Rember that:

Backshift of other structures

Note that, in the table below, we will omit the word that in all the examples.

Direct Speech Reported Speech Example
this that "This article is captivating", she said.
She said that article was captivating.
these those Jenny: "These are our brochures."
Jenny said those were our brochures.
here there "The press conference will take place here", he informed us.
He informed us the press conference would take place there.
now then "I can't talk now", Bob told me.
Bob told me he couldn't talk then.
today that day Tommy: "Today is a big day."
Tommy said that day was a big day.
tomorrow the following day "The show starts tomorrow", announced Hanna.
Hanna announced the show started the following day.
yesterday the previous day "The armed robbery took place yesterday," he said.
He said the armed robbery had taken place the previous day.
the day after tomorrow in two days' time "The suspect will be interrogated the day after tomorrow," he said.
He said the suspect would be interrogated in two days' time.
the day before yesterday two days before "We talked the day before yesterday", she said.
She said we had talked two days before.
last (week) the previous (week) Carrie: "A terrifying event happened last week."
Carrie said a terrifying event had happened the previous week.
next (month) the following (month) Mr. Roth: "We will make a public announncement next month."
Mr. Roth said they would make a public announcement the following month.
(two years) ago (two years) before "The series started two years ago", Ryan said.
Ryan said the series had started two years before.

Reporting verbs

Common reporting verbs are: to say, to tell, to report, to ask, to announce, to inform, to suggest, to mention, to advise, to order, to admit, to deny, to claim, to recall, to warn, to promise, to reply, to invite, to complain, to imply etc.

e.g.: She promised she would call us.
e.g.: Mary replied that she had never been there before.
e.g.: The Smiths implied that we had stolen their Christmas decorations.

Statements / Questions / Requests

Reported Speech can be used for making statements, for asking questions or for making requests.




What else should I know?