Tense Changes When Using Reported Speech in English

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


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.

No Change in Verb Tenses in Reported Speech – Video

Tenses change:

  • Present Simple -> Past Simple

"I want to watch a film".

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

  • Present Continuous -> Past Continuous

"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.

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