Tense Changes When Using Reported Speech in English

Learn details of English Grammar on Direct and Indirect Speech Tense Changes.

Tense Changes in Reported Speech

  • Present Simple -> Past Simple

“I want to watch a film”.

-> He said (that) he wanted to watch a film.

“Jane is sleeping.”

-> He said (that) Jane was sleeping.

  • Past Simple -> Past Perfect

Alex said, “I finished my homework.”

-> Alex said he had finished his homework.

  • Past Continuous -> Past Perfect Continuous

“I was sleeping at that time.”

-> She said that she had been sleeping at that time.

  • Present Perfect -> Past Perfect

“I have eaten already.”

-> She said that she had eaten already.

  • Will -> Would

She said, “I will always love Tom.”

-> She said that she would always love Tom.

  • Can -> Could

Tom said, “I can carry 50kg.”

-> Tom said he could carry 50kg.

  • Must -> Had to

“Everybody must obey the rules.”

-> She said everybody had to obey the rules.

  • Have to -> Had to

She said, “I have to go home.”

-> She said she had to go home.

Sometimes there are no tense changes in indirect speech if:

– When the reporting verb is in the present

Eg: Martha says she is arriving around ten.

– When the reported verb is in the past, but the reported words are “always true”

Eg: Harry told me he still likes you.

– When the message is being repeated immediately after it was said

Eg: Laura said she’s too busy to come.

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2 years ago


2 years ago

that is why french or even russian is better to learn

Mohammad Omid Niazi
Mohammad Omid Niazi
2 years ago

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Khinwin Naing
Khinwin Naing
2 years ago

Very good sharing knowledge. I love it