Reported speech (direct and indirect):definition, rules, structure, and examples.

Reported speech in English grammar with examples

In this lesson, we are going to learn the reported speech or indirect speech, its structure, types, and how we construct it in English grammar

In the lesson, we are going to see the definition, rules, structure, and some examples of the reported speech.


We usually use reported speech when we talk about something that someone else has said.

When you describe what someone else told you, you use reported speech

So, how we use it? What are the reported speech changes(structure) from direct to indirect? and how we convert it?

The way we do this, we take the original sentence and we change it into one tense back.  

Let’s see some examples to make things clear.

Original sentence:

He said, “I Like the blue color”

Reported speech:

He said that he liked the blue color.

In this case, the tense has changed from the simple present tense to the past simple.


It is really important to know how to use tenses in English because you are going to need them in the reported speech lesson.

You can learn more about tenses from here. (all 12 tenses in English with examples)

Reported speech in all tenses :

The changes between tenses in reported speech apply as follows:

From To
Present simple Past simple
Present continuous Past continuous
Present perfect Past perfect
Past perfect Past perfect (no change)


Simple tense:

do/does did
Did had done
Will do would do

Perfect tense:

have/has done had done
Had done had done (no change)
Will have done would have done

Continuous tense:

am/is/are doing was/were doing
have/has been doing had been doing
was/were doing had been doing
Had been doing had been doing(no change)
Will be doing would be doing
Will have been doing would have been doing

Example the verb “to be” in reported speech.

am/is was
Are were
was/were had been

Example of the verb to do“.

do/does did
Did had done
have/has had
Had had

More examples:

Used to used to (no change)
am/is/are going to do was/were going to do

Reported speech and modal verbs (modals)

Can could
Will would
Shall should
Must had to
Might might (no change)
Could could(no change)
Should should(no change)
Ought to ought to(no change)
Have to/has to had to


have to and need to actually are not modal verbs, but they are ordinary verbs that are always followed by an infinitive without “to” just like modal verbs.

Learn more about modal verbs in English from here:

Place/time expressions in modal verbs

Changement from the original sentence (quote) to reported speech doesn’t apply only on tenses actually, but it does apply also on time and place.

Original Reported speech
Now then
Yesterday the day before
Tomorrow the day after
Next week the following week
Here there


Original Indirect
Anna says: I did my homework
Anna said that she had done her
homework the day before
John says: I will go to the gym
John said that he would go to the
gym the day after.
Bella says: Yesterday was a great
festival here.
Bella said that the day before was a great festival there.

So, like we said, in order to use reported speech rules or indirect speech rules. We change it into one tense back. And we have seen that we use reported speech to report what somebody has said.

If somebody has told you something, this is going to be a “quote”. The “quote”, means you copy the person’s words exactly. So, in indirect speech, we change the quoted into reported speech. 

So now, let’s see some examples, sentences, and some statements of everything we saw in this lesson in order to make things clear.

Reported speech in all tenses “Table examples”:

Tense Original Reported speech
Present simple she said ”I like the
green color”
she said that she liked the green color
Present continuous she said “I’m
she said that she was
Past simple she said “I lived in my parent’s house” she said that she had
lived in her parent’s house
Past continuous she said “I was watching tv” she said that she had been watching tv
Present perfect she said “I have seen a new movie” she said that she had
seen a new movie
Past perfect she said “I had
she said that she had

Reported speech with modals “Table examples”:

Modal Original Reported speech
Will she said “I will study
she said that she
would study hard
Would she said “I would study hard” she said that she would study hard
Can she said “I can do this” she said that she could do that
Could she said “I could
speak English”
she said that she
could speak English
Shall I shall come with you she said that she
would come with him
Should she said “I should
wake up early”
she said that she
should wake up early
Might she said “I might be a child but I’m smart” she said that she
might be a child but she is smart
Must she said “I must win
this game”
she said that she had
to win that game

Reported speech Questions form.”Table examples”

Direct Indirect
what are you doing? she asked what I was doing.
Where is your sister? she asked me where my sister was.
What is your favorite color? she asked me what my favorite
color was
What is your favorite country? She asked me what was
my favorite country.

Yes/no questions in the reported speech:

In the yes/no questions, and suggestions we usually use “if”.

Direct Indirect
Do you like fruit? She asked me if I liked fruit
Do you have anything for me? She asked me if I had something for her.
Are you studying? She asked me if I was studying.
Do you like horror movies? She asked me if I liked horror movies.
where does he live? She asked me where did he live.

Reported speech suggestions:

Direct Indirect
Could you open the door, please! She asked him if he could open the door.


you may notice or ask why the verb “live” stay in its base form and hasn’t changed to “lived“.

Because we said that the verb changes into one tense back.

Actually we have two reasons here.

First, we have two verbs here that are: “do and live”. The first one “do” has already changed to “did”.

Secondly, any verb comes after did stays in its base form.

did + base verb

Requests in the reported speech:

Direct Indirect
Could you help me, please? She asked me to help her.
Be quiet, please. She asked me to be quiet.
Please to review the book I wrote. She asked me to review the book she wrote.


In the negative form we use “not”:


Direct Indirect
Don’t make noise, please She asked me to not make noise.
Don’t be lazy. She asked me to not be lazy.
Don’t eat quickly. She asked me to not eat quickly.

this was a definition, rules, structure, and some examples of the reported speech. Check reported speech quiz and exercises from here.

you can check more details about indirect speech on wikipidia

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