Reported Speech


We use reported speech to tell someone what someone else said
Example: “John told me that he wanted to contact the supplier today.”

This has nothing to do with the past tense. It is using the past form of the verbs to report the information given by John.


We generally use either say or tell to report information given to us by a 3rd party.
say – does not have an object – He said he would fetch a coffee.
tell – always has an object – He told me he would fetch a coffee.

If you use say or tell, normally you have to change the verbs in the following way:
present -> past
He said he wanted to phone me.
will -> would
He said he would phone me.

Positive Sentences

He said the documents would be ready tomorrow.
She told me (that) she arrived on time.

Negative Sentences

He said the documents wouldn’t be ready by tomorrow.
She told me (that) she didn’t arrive on time.


To make questions you can use:
asked + what/when
He asked me when I would arrive. – (Er fragte mich, wann ich ankommen würde.)
She asked what time is was. – (Sie fragte, wie spät es war.)

To report closed questions (yes/no reply) we use:
asked + if
They asked us if we were going to the meeting. – (Sie fragten uns, ob…)
She asked me if I would like a drink.

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