Direct and reported speech
Study this example:
"I am very happy"
If you want to tell somebody what John said, there are two ways of doing this. You can use direct or reported speech.
- John said, "I am very happy" (direct speech)
- John said that he was very happy (reported speech)
You use reported speech when you give information about what people say or think. The main verb and the rest of the sentence are usually in the past tense.
- Maria said (that) she went to London yesterday
- I told her (that) we couldn't go to her party
(*) You can leave out "that"
- Maria said she went to London yesterday
As a rule, the present form in direct speech changes to the past form in reported speech:
am / is
do / does
have / has
However, if what you are reporting is still true at the time of reporting, you do not need to change the verb.
- John said "Maria is a shy person" (direct speech)
- John said that Maria is a shy person (reported speech)
- Maria said "I want to go to Marbella next summer" (direct speech)
- Maria said that she wants to go to Marbella next summer (reported speech)
- Note that it is also correct to change the verb into the past:
- John said that Maria was a shy person
- Maria said that she wanted to go to Marbella next summer
In reported speech, the past simple can stay the same or you can change it to the past perfect:
|had been able
- James said, "I went to Paris for the weekend" (direct speech)
- James said (that) he went to Paris for the weekend (reported speech)
- James said (that) he had been to Paris for the weekend (direct speech)
These verbs are often used to report statements:
Remember: When you're reporting times and places, these words sometimes change.
The next day
The day before
The week before