Reported speech

Reported Speech (Meaning, Rules, Examples, And FREE Worksheet)

Have you ever wondered how we can share what someone said without using their exact words?

That’s where reported speech comes in.

Whether you’re recounting a story, sharing an interview, or simply conveying what someone said, reported speech adds depth and authenticity to your communication.

In this blog post, we’ll uncover the secrets of transforming direct speech into indirect speech, making conversations come to life in a whole new way.

What Is Reported Speech?

Picture this scenario: your best friend tells you about a great movie he watched. Later, when you’re chatting with another friend, you tell them, “My best friend said he watched a great movie.

Bingo! That’s reported speech.

It’s how we pass along or ‘report’ what someone else has said. Instead of repeating their exact words (that’s called direct speech), we often rephrase things, put them in our own words, or change the tense. 

We use reported speech all the time, often without even realizing it—it’s a key part of how we share information.

In the English language, reported speech (also known as indirect speech) is a handy tool, so let’s dig into it some more. 

Don’t worry. We’ll take it step by step!

Reported Speech Rules

Alright, now that we know what reported speech is, let’s talk about the rules. Don’t worry, and it’s not as scary as it sounds. Just like in a football game or a board game, rules help everything flow smoothly. 

Here’s how it works with reported speech:

1. Say Bye To Quotation Marks

When we’re using reported speech, we don’t need quotation marks. Quotation marks are like party guests who show up when we’re quoting someone’s words directly. But for reported speech, we’re rephrasing things, so the quotation marks can take a little break.

2. Change The Tense

Usually, we shift the tenses back. This is because we’re usually talking about something that happened in the past. It’s like time travel but with words! If someone said, “I love pizza,” and you reported it, you’d say, “She said she loved pizza.”

3. Adjust Pronouns

Just like you wouldn’t wear your friend’s glasses, we don’t use the same pronouns when we shift to reported speech. We need to change them to match who we’re talking about. If your brother said, “I aced my IELTS speaking test,” you would tell your friends, “My brother said he aced his IELTS speaking test.”

4. Time And Place References

If the direct speech mentions a specific time or place, you may have to change these references too. So if your friend tells you on a Monday, “I’ll visit you tomorrow,” and you report it on Tuesday, you’d say, “She said she would visit me today.”

Tense Change In Reported Speech

Direct SpeechReported SpeechDirect Speech
Reported Speech Example
Present SimplePast Simple“I love watching movies on Amazon Prime,” said Sarah.Sarah said that she loved watching movies on Amazon Prime.
Present ContinuousPast ContinuousJohn says, “I am playing soccer.”John said that he was playing soccer.
Present PerfectPast Perfect“I have subscribed to Amazon’s Subscribe and Save service to save money,” said Jo.Jo said that he had subscribed to Amazon’s Subscribe and Save service to save money.
Present Perfect ContinuousPast Perfect ContinuousMary says, “I have been studying all day.”Mary said that she had been studying all day.
Past SimplePast PerfectHe said, “I visited my parents yesterday.”He said that he had visited his parents the day before.
Past ContinuousPast Perfect ContinuousLisa said, “I was watching TV all evening.”Lisa said that she had been watching TV all evening.
Past PerfectPast PerfectTom said, “I had already seen the movie.”Tom said that he had already seen the movie.
Past Perfect ContinuousPast Perfect ContinuousSarah said, “I had been waiting for hours.”Sarah said that she had been waiting for hours.
Future SimpleConditional or Future in the Past“I will have a 30-day free trial of Amazon Audible tomorrow,” said Alex.Alex said that he would have a 30-day free trial of Amazon Audible the next day.
Future ContinuousConditional Continuous or Future Continuous in the PastMark said, “I will be studying tomorrow.”Mark said that he would be studying the next day.
Future PerfectConditional Perfect or Future Perfect in the PastJane said, “I will have finished the project by Friday.”Jane said that she would have finished the project by Friday.
Future Perfect ContinuousConditional Perfect Continuous or Future Perfect Continuous in the PastDavid said, “I will have been working here for five years.”David said that he would have been working there for five years.
ImperativeInfinitiveThe teacher said, “Please be quiet.”The teacher told the students to be quiet.

Changes In Time And Place In Reported Speech

When we’re telling someone else about a conversation that happened at another time or place, it’s super important to adjust the time and place references.

It might sound complicated, but once you get the hang of it, it’s really just about making sure everything makes sense.

Let’s check out more examples:

Direct SpeechReported SpeechWhy the Change?
todaythat day“Today” becomes “that day” in the context of the past conversation.
yesterdaythe day before“Yesterday” becomes “the day before” since we’re now another day forward.
tomorrowthe next day“Tomorrow” becomes “the next day” to maintain the context in reported speech.
nowthen“Now” becomes “then” as the moment has passed when we report it.
herethere“Here” becomes “there” to indicate a different location in the reported speech.
next weekthe following week“Next week” becomes “the following week” to maintain the context.
last weekthe week before“Last week” becomes “the week before” to indicate the time shift.
this yearthat year“This year” becomes “that year” to indicate a different time period.
next monththe following month“Next month” becomes “the following month” to maintain context.
last monththe month before“Last month” becomes “the month before” to indicate a shift in time.
this citythat city“This city” becomes “that city” to refer to a different location in the past.

Isn’t it cool how these little changes help keep the timeline clear when we’re sharing past conversations? That way, there’s no mix-up over when or where things happened! It’s one of the many neat tricks that language gives us.

Questions In Reported Speech

You know when someone asks a question, it sounds and looks a certain way, right? Well, when we talk about that question later, we change it up a bit.

We turn the question into a statement.

Sounds tricky? Don’t worry, I’ll explain!

Direct QuestionReported Speech
“What is the name of this color in English?”“He asked what the name of that color was in English.”
“Are you ready for some Truth or Dare questions?”“She asked if I was ready for some Truth or Dare questions.”

See what we did there? We made those questions smooth out into statements. It’s like ironing the question mark right out of them!

Oh, and one more thing. If the question starts with a question word (like ‘who,’ ‘what,’ ‘where’), keep it in the reported speech. But if it’s a yes/no question, use ‘if’ or ‘whether.’

Reported Speech Worksheet With Answers

Here are a few reported speech exercises to practice and reinforce your understanding:

Reported speech exercises

Exercise 1: 

Rewrite the following direct speech sentences as reported speech sentences.

  1. “I love ice cream,” said Emily.
  2. “Have you finished your homework?” asked the teacher.
  3. “We’re going on vacation next week,” said Mark.
  4. “Why didn’t you attend the meeting?” he asked.
  5. “I will help you with your project,” she promised.
  6. “I will visit my grandparents next weekend,” said Jack.


  1. Emily said she loved ice cream.
  2. The teacher asked if I had finished my homework.
  3. Mark said they were going on vacation the following week.
  4. He asked why I hadn’t attended the meeting.
  5. She promised to help me with my project.
  6. Jack said he would visit his grandparents the following weekend.

Exercise 2: Change the following sentences from reported speech to direct speech.

  1. He said that he had finished his work.
  2. She told me that she would call me later.
  3. They said they were going to the movies.
  4. The teacher told us to study for the test.
  5. He said he had seen the movie before.


  1. “I have finished my work,” he said.
  2. “I will call you later,” she told me.
  3. “We are going to the movies,” they said.
  4. “Study for the test,” the teacher told us.
  5. “I have seen the movie before,” he said.

FAQs On Reported Speech 

What Are The 5 Examples Of Reported Speech?

Here are five examples for you:

1. “She’s really tired,” becomes, “He said she was really tired.”
2. “I’ll help you tomorrow,” becomes, “She said she would help me tomorrow.”
3. “I’m reading a great book,” becomes, “He said he was reading a great book.”
4. “We’re going on vacation,” becomes, “They said they were going on vacation.”
5. “I’ve lost my hat,” becomes, “She said she had lost her hat.”

What Are The 3 Most Common Reporting Verbs In Reported Speech?

The three most common reporting verbs are “say,” “tell,” and “ask.” We use these all the time in reported speech!

What Is An Example Of Reported Speech For Kids?

If your friend Billy says, “I have a new bike,” and you want to tell someone else what Billy said, you would use reported speech. You might say, “Billy told me that he had a new bike.”

What Are The 3 Main Elements Of A Reported Speech?

The three main elements are:

1. Pronoun: In reported speech, pronouns are typically changed to match the perspective of the person doing the reporting. For example, first-person pronouns in direct speech (“I,” “we”) become the third person (“he,” “she,” “they”) in reported speech. This keeps the meaning clear when the speaker’s words are reported by someone else.

2. Reporting Verb: This is the verb used to indicate that speech or thought is being reported. Common reporting verbs include “say,” “tell,” “ask,” “think,” and “feel,” among others. The choice of reporting verb can convey additional nuances about how the speech was originally delivered.

3. Tense Shift: Known as “backshifting,” the shifting of tenses is common in reported speech. If the direct speech is in the present tense, it’s customary to shift it to the past tense in reported speech. For instance, “I am happy” would become “she said she was happy.” This shift accurately portrays that the reported action or state happened at a previous time.

These elements work together to convey the original meaning of the speaker’s words while fitting into the grammatical structure of the reporting sentence.

Wrapping Up Reported Speech

Congratulations on completing your journey into the realm of reported speech! 

Remember to adjust pronouns, tenses, and other elements to accurately report speech. 

As you continue to practice and apply what you’ve learned, you’ll become more confident in reporting speech accurately and creatively.

If you’ve found this post helpful, please do follow Hi English Hub on Pinterest and Twitter for more linguistic insights, and feel free to share this with others who might also benefit. 

Leave a Comment

Scroll to Top