UNIT 11 Indirect Speech present time When we report things ...If you'd brought a map, we wouldn't have got lost' (third conditional) .... Put the
following statements into indirect speech. ... 14 'I've just bought a car,' said Peter, '
but it's not insured yet so I can't take you for a drive ..... I wonder (Can we just get
a baby-sitter and go ourselves?) ... Do you know (What time does the movie start
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When we report things happening now, or general facts, or give messages, or
report something we are reading, we use a present tense reporting verb, and
do not backshift tenses into the past. Note that for written texts we
report what the text 'says'.
'I'm going to wait for you.' He says he's going to wait for us.
'Fifty people were injured.' It says here that fifty people were injured
past time with tense changes
When reporting what people said, we use a past tense reporting verb and we
backshift the tenses following into the past.
'We're thinking it over.' She said they were thinking it over.
I had an accident.' He told me he'd had an accident.
'We 'II let you know.' They said they would let me know.
Note that both past simple and present perfect become past perfect.
'I've had an idea.' She said she'd had an idea.
Past tenses are changed to past perfect tenses after past reporting verbs,
but only if this is necessary in order to make the time relations clear.
I saw Penny a couple of days ago. Dinosaurs were around for 250 million
In his letter, he said he'd seen Penny a couple of days before.
This guy on TV said dinosaurs were around for 250 million years.
facts and states
When we use a past tense reporting verb, a continuing state is not back-
shifted, though if we use back-shift this is not wrong.
'Reindeer can swim really well.' He told us that reindeer can swim
He told us that reindeer could swim really well.
If we do use back-shift, it may be necessary to use a time phrase to make
the time reference clear.
She said she was unhappy in her job at that time. ( = unhappy in the past)
She said she was unhappy in her job at the moment ( = unhappy now)
modals and conditionals
. Can, will I shall (future) and may change to could, would and might.
'I'll be back on Friday.' He said he would be back on Friday.
I may be late.' She said she might be late.
* Shall in requests etc changes to should. See also wh-questions below.
'What shall we do?' They wanted to know what they should do '
* Would, should, ought to, could, might, used to remain unchanged. Must is
often changed to had to, but can remain unchanged, or be changed to would
have to if there is future reference.
'You must be more careful in future.'
She told me I must be I had to be I would have to be more careful in
. First conditional sentences are usually changed, but not second or
If you're late, they won't let you in.' (first conditional)
He said that if I was late, they wouldn't let me in.
If you'd brought a map, we wouldn't have got lost' (third conditional)
She said that if I had brought a map, we wouldn't have got lost'
changes of viewpoint
References to time, place and specific reference usually change.
'Bring this ticket with you tomorrow.'
He told me to bring the ticket with me the next day 'Give that to me ' He
told me to give it to him 'I'll see you here in the morning.' He said he
would see me there the next morning
reported yes /no questions
Yes/no questions are reported using /for whether. There is no inversion or
auxiliary do I did. If the auxiliary have is used in the question it
becomes had. The same backshift rules apply as for statements. There is no
'Do you like Japanese food?' She asked me if/ whether I liked Japanese
'Have you finished?' They asked me if/ whether I had finished.
We prefer whether before or, especially in a formal style. I enquired
whether she was coming by road or by air.
. We form reported wh-questions without inversion or auxiliary do/ did.
Auxiliary have becomes had.
'What's the time?' He asked me what the time was.
'Where have you been? She asked me where I had been.
. Polite requests beginning could/ would are not back shifted into the
past after a past tense reporting
'Could you help me?' she asked.
She asked me if I could help her/ to help her.
It may be possible to report the request rather than the actual words of
the request. 'Could you tell me where the station is?' He asked me for
directions to / the way to the station.
reporting imperatives: tell and ask
We use tell (order, command, forbid) to report orders and ask (beg, urge)
to report requests. 'Stop what you are doing!' She told me to stop what I
was doing. 'Please don 't go.' He asked me to stay
reporting verbs and their patterns.
A large number of reporting verbs indicate the function of the original
'You should stop smoking.' He advised her to stop smoking. (advice) 'If you
do that again, I'll call the police.' He threatened to call the police.
There are several different patterns used after reporting verbs:
|Verb only | |
|'I'm really sorry.' > She |Agree, apologise, refuse |
|apologized. | |
|Verb + (that) clause |Accept, acknowledge, add, admit, |
|'I hacked into the company's |advise, agree, announce, answer*,|
|accounts system.' > He admitted |argue, assert, assume, believe, |
|(that) he had hacked into the |boast, comment, complain, |
|company's accounts system. |concede, conclude, confess, |
| |continue*, decide, declare, deny,|
| |doubt, exclaim, expect, explain, |
| |foresee, imagine, imply, insist, |
| |know, mention, notice, observe, |
| |point out, predict, promise, |
| |protest, recommend, remark, |
| |repeat, reply*, report, respond, |
| |reveal, say, shout*, state, |
| |suggest, vow, whisper |
| |(* = that is obligatory) |
|Verb + object + that clause |Advise, (re)assure, inform, |
|'Don't worry. You'll arrive on |remind, tell, warn |
|time.' > She reassured me that I | |
|would arrive on time. | |
|Verb + to infinitive |Agree, demand, guarantee, offer, |
|'We'll pick up the children, if |propose, refuse, swear, threaten,|
|you like.' > They offered to pick|volunteer, vow |
|up the children. | |
|Verb (+ optional object) + to |Ask, beg, expect, promise |
|infinitive | |
|'Please, can I use the car?' > | |
|She asked (me) to use the car. | |
|Verb + object + to infinitive |Advise, allow, challenge, |
|'You shouldn't say anything.' > I|command, compel, encourage, |
|advised him not to say anything. |expect, forbid, force, implore, |
| |instruct, invite, order, permit, |
| |persuade, remind, request, tell, |
| |urge, warn |
|Verb + object + to infinitive + |Acknowledge, assume, believe, |
|complement |claim, consider, declare, expect,|
|'Mohammed Ali was the greatest |feel, find, presume, suppose, |
|boxer ever.' > She considers |think, understand |
|Mohammed Ali to have been the | |
|greatest boxer ever. | |
|Verb + -ing form |Admit, apologise for, decide on, |
|'I didn't do it.' > He denied |deny, mention, recommend, regret,|
|doing it. |report, suggest |
|Verb + object + preposition + |Accuse sb of, blame sb for, |
|-ing form |congratulate sb on, thank sb for |
|'You forged the cheques, didn't | |
|you?' > They accused me of | |
|forging the cheques. | |
verbatim reporting and summary
Speakers do not always report exactly every word spoken, especially if this
would make a lengthy and repetitive report. Speakers summarize and often
use words that describe what was said.
'What did you think?' I asked him for his opinion.
think and don't think
When we use opinion words like think and believe, the opinion verb is
negative in negative statements. This isn't very tasty. I don't think
this is very tasty.
1. Match the direct and indirect speech expressions. Example:
here - there
Here last week next week now this this morning today tomorrow
That day that morning that night that/the/last the day before the
next day the next week/ the week after the week before then/that day/
right away there
2. Imagine these sentences were reported in another place a month
later. Put in the 'here' and 'now' words.
1. 'I'll see you tomorrow.' She said she'd see me the next day.
2. 'I'll phone you this evening.' He said he'd phone
3. 'Do you like it here?' She asked if I liked it
4. 'My uncle died last week.' He told me his uncle had died
5. 'This meat tastes funny.' She said meat tasted funny.
6. 'I'm leaving now.' He told us he was leaving
7. 'I overslept this morning.' She told him she'd overslept
8. 'The train leaves at 11.00 tonight.' I was told the train left at 11.00
9. 'Pete phoned me yesterday.' He said Pete had phoned him
10 'My brother's arriving here today.' She said her brother was arriving
3. Rewrite the sentence as reported speech, beginning as shown, and
1. 'I wouldn't lend ....