A Guide to Reported Speech in English

As writers, we are often required to convey the words and thoughts of others through reported speech. Whether it’s in journalism, fiction or academic writing, mastering the art of reporting speech is a vital skill that can elevate our writing to new heights. However, for many writers, this can be a challenging task that requires careful attention to detail.

In this article, we will explore the basics of reported speech and provide you with tips and techniques on how to write it effectively. We will delve into topics such as identifying direct and indirect speech, changing tenses and pronouns in reported speech, using reporting verbs, reporting speech in different voices and styles as well as common mistakes to avoid. By the end of this article, you’ll have a solid understanding of how to write reported speech with confidence and precision. So let’s get started!

Key Takeaways

  • Reported speech is an important tool in writing that allows for the conveyance of someone’s words or thoughts without using direct quotes.
  • Direct speech involves quoting someone’s exact words, while indirect speech involves paraphrasing what was said.
  • Quoted speech is often used for more immediate, impactful quotes, while reported speech is used for conveying a broader message or summarizing a longer conversation.
  • Careful attention to tense and pronoun changes is important in reported speech, as well as choosing the appropriate reporting verb to convey the desired tone and style.

Understanding the Basics of Reported Speech

You gotta understand the basics of reported speech to be able to use it correctly. Using reported speech in storytelling is a powerful tool, but it’s important to get it right. One common error in reported speech usage is confusing direct and indirect speech.

Direct speech involves quoting someone directly, using their exact words. For example, “I love chocolate,” said Jane. In contrast, indirect speech involves reporting what someone said without using their exact words. For example, Jane said she loves chocolate.

The key difference between direct and indirect speech is the use of quotation marks and reporting verbs like ‘said’ or ‘told’. It’s crucial to understand these differences so that you can accurately report what someone else has said in your writing or conversation. With this understanding under your belt, let’s move on to identifying direct and indirect speech in more detail…

Identifying Direct and Indirect Speech

As we delve deeper into the topic of reported speech, it is crucial to understand the distinction between quoted and reported speech. Quoted speech involves repeating the exact words spoken by someone else, using quotation marks to indicate that it is a direct quote. Reported speech, on the other hand, involves paraphrasing what was said without necessarily using the same words. As we navigate through this subtopic, we will learn how to differentiate between these two forms of speech and gain a better understanding of their usage in writing and communication.

Recognizing Quoted and Reported Speech

Recognizing the difference between quoted and reported speech can be confusing, but it’s important to use the correct form in order to accurately convey someone else’s words. Direct speech involves directly quoting someone’s words, while reported speech involves paraphrasing what was said. Here are three tips to help differentiate between the two:

  1. Look for quotation marks: Quotation marks indicate that direct speech is being used, while reported speech will not have quotation marks.
  2. Pay attention to verb tense: When using reported speech, it’s important to change the verb tense appropriately. For example, if someone says “I am happy,” when reporting this statement you would say “she said she was happy.”
  3. Notice changes in pronouns: In reported speech, pronouns may need to be changed depending on who is speaking and who they are referring to.

By understanding these differences between quoted and reported speech, you can more effectively communicate what others have said without confusion or misinterpretation. Differentiating between the two forms of speech may seem like a small detail, but it can make a big difference in accurately conveying information.

Moving forward into differentiating between the two forms of speech, it’s important to note that there are certain circumstances where one form may be more appropriate than the other. Understanding when direct or reported speech is best suited for a particular situation will allow you to better convey information and maintain clarity in your communication with others.

Differentiating Between the Two

Distinguishing between quoted and reported speech can enhance the accuracy and clarity of one’s communication. While both types of speech involve conveying someone else’s words, there are subtle differences that impact how they are presented. Quoted speech involves repeating the exact words spoken by another person, whereas reported speech involves relaying the message or idea conveyed by that person in your own words.

Understanding these nuances is important because it affects how we convey information to others. Quoted speech is useful when you want to emphasize something specific or when using direct quotes for research purposes, but reported speech allows for more flexibility in language and interpretation. Being able to differentiate between them will allow us to communicate more effectively and with greater precision.

Moving on to changing tenses in reported speech, it is important to note that this too requires careful attention. Without proper tense changes, a sentence may become confusing or even change its meaning entirely.

Changing Tenses in Reported Speech

Switching tenses in reported speech can be like riding a rollercoaster, with sudden drops and unexpected turns. One of the most common challenges is changing verb forms to match the tense of the original statement. This process is known as backshifting tenses, and it requires careful attention to detail.

For example, if someone said “I am going to the store,” we would report that as “She said she was going to the store.” The present tense “am” becomes past tense “was,” while the gerund form “going” remains unchanged. However, if the original statement was in past tense (“I went to the store”), we would report it as “She said she had gone to the store.” Here, both verb forms have changed – “went” becomes “had gone,” and “go” becomes its past participle form.

It’s important to remember that not all verbs follow this pattern, and some may require additional changes depending on their irregularity or specific meaning. As we move into discussing changing pronouns in reported speech, it’s crucial to keep these shifting tenses in mind for accurate reporting of what was originally said.

Changing Pronouns in Reported Speech

You’ll never believe how much of a headache it can be to change pronouns when relaying what someone else has said. When reporting speech, it’s important to switch the pronouns so that they match the perspective of the person who is speaking. For example, if someone says “I love ice cream,” and you are reporting their statement in third person, you would say “He/she loves ice cream.” However, it’s not as simple as just changing the pronoun – there are several factors to consider.

One way to avoid redundancy when changing pronouns is by using different reporting verbs. For instance, instead of always using “said,” try incorporating verbs such as “explained,” “claimed,” or “stated.” This adds variety and makes your writing more engaging. Additionally, when switching between first and third person perspectives, keep in mind that some words may need to be changed to reflect this shift – for instance, “me” becomes “him/her” and “us” becomes “them.” By paying attention to these details and taking care with your wording, you can ensure that reported speech flows smoothly and accurately conveys the speaker’s intended meaning.

When using different reporting verbs in your writing, it’s important to choose ones that accurately reflect the tone and content of the original statement. Additionally, take care not to overuse certain verbs or repeat them too frequently – this can make your writing seem dull or monotonous. By switching up your vocabulary and carefully considering each word choice, you can make reported speech more engaging while still conveying its original message. Next we will discuss how choosing appropriate reporting verbs can further enhance your writing style.

Using Reporting Verbs

Imagine yourself as a detective, carefully selecting the perfect reporting verb to add depth and nuance to your retelling of the witness’s statement. As you craft your story, it is essential to choose the right words that accurately convey the message while keeping your audience engaged. Common reporting verbs include “said,” “told,” “claimed,” and “explained.” Each verb brings its own connotations and shades of meaning, allowing you to paint a vivid picture of events.

Using reported speech in storytelling allows you to relay what someone else said without using their exact words. By doing so, you can create more dynamic narratives that capture the nuances of human communication. However, it is essential to remember that when using reported speech, you must be accurate and faithful to what was actually said. Your choice of reporting verb can help ensure this accuracy while also adding depth and complexity to your writing. With these tools at your disposal, you are ready to craft compelling stories that draw readers into the world of your characters.

As we move on into discussing ‘reporting statements,’ it is crucial to remember how important accuracy is when crafting our stories through reported speech.

Reporting Statements

Now, let’s dive into how accurately reporting statements can enhance your storytelling and captivate your readers even more. Paraphrasing reported speech is crucial in writing an engaging story that conveys a sense of authenticity. When reporting statements, it is important to remember that we are not simply repeating what the original speaker said, but rather presenting their message in our own words.

To achieve this, we use certain verbs when introducing reported speech such as “said,” “told,” “mentioned,” or “explained.” These verbs help convey the tone and context of the original statement while also allowing us to incorporate our own interpretation of the message. It is also important to pay attention to tenses when paraphrasing reported speech since these can change depending on whether we are reporting something that was said in the past or present.

Incorporating accurate reporting of statements can make a significant impact on how well your story flows and resonates with your audience. Reporting commands will be discussed further in the next section without interrupting our flow.

Reporting Commands

When incorporating commands into our storytelling, we can use imperative language to add a sense of urgency and command attention from the reader. Reporting imperative sentences requires us to convert them into reported speech while keeping in mind that the tone and urgency of the original command may be lost in translation.

To effectively report a command, we should follow these steps:

  • Begin with a reporting verb such as ‘tell’, ‘order’, or ‘advise’.
  • Use an appropriate reporting clause to introduce the speaker.
  • Change the tense of the verb in accordance with reported speech rules.

It is important to note that when converting commands to reported speech, we must also replace any direct object pronouns with indirect ones. For example, “Do your homework” would become “He told me to do my homework”.

Reporting commands accurately is crucial for maintaining clarity and authority within our writing. Next, we will discuss how to report requests without losing their intended meaning.

Reporting Requests

You can add depth and nuance to your storytelling by accurately reporting requests made by characters in your writing. Reporting requests involves more than just repeating what was said; it requires an understanding of the nuances of language, tone, and context. Role playing exercises can be a helpful tool for writers to familiarize themselves with how different characters might make requests and how those requests would be received.

One common mistake when reporting requests is to focus solely on the words spoken, rather than the underlying meaning. For example, if a character says “Can you pass me that book?” the request may not actually be about getting the book but rather about initiating contact with another character or asserting authority over them. Another mistake is to assume that all characters will make requests in the same way; cultural background, personality traits, and power dynamics can all influence how a character makes a request. By paying attention to these nuances and developing an ear for authentic dialogue, writers can create richer characters and more engaging stories.

Common mistakesRole playing exercises
Focusing only on words spokenHelpful tool for familiarization
Assuming all characters make requests similarlyDevelops an ear for authentic dialogue
Neglecting underlying meaning of requestConsiders cultural background/personality/power dynamics

In reporting requests accurately, writers must pay close attention to both what is said and what is meant. By avoiding common mistakes such as focusing only on words spoken or assuming all characters make similar requests, writers can create more nuanced stories with deeper characterization. Role playing exercises can also help develop this skill by allowing writers to explore different perspectives and voices. In the next section, we’ll delve into reporting suggestions and advice without losing sight of these important considerations.

Reporting Suggestions and Advice

We will now discuss the topic of reporting suggestions and advice. When directly reporting suggestions and advice, we use imperative sentences to convey the speaker’s exact words. On the other hand, when indirectly reporting suggestions and advice, we use modal verbs such as ‘should’ or ‘ought to’ to report what was said in a more indirect way.

Reporting Direct Suggestions and Advice

“Hey, take a page out of my book and sprinkle some reported speech into your writing,” suggests the seasoned writer, as they share tips on how to report direct suggestions and advice using contractions and figurative language. If you want to report someone’s suggestion or advice directly, there are a few things to keep in mind. First off, use quotation marks around the exact words spoken. It’s important to be accurate when reporting what someone said.

Next, use appropriate verb tense when reporting direct speech. For instance, if someone said “I am going to the store,” you would report it as “She said she was going to the store.” It’s also good practice to include some context before quoting the speaker’s words so that readers have an idea of what prompted them. Finally, don’t be afraid to add your own spin on things by using figurative language or emphasizing certain words for effect.

For example:

  1. “I’m not feeling well,” she said.
  2. She complained that she wasn’t feeling up to par.
  3. He suggested we take a break from work.
  4. He urged us all to step back from our busy schedules and make time for rest and reflection.

With these tips in mind, you’ll be able to confidently report direct suggestions and advice while adding your own flair and personality into your writing seamlessly.”

Now let’s move on to discussing how we can effectively report indirect suggestions and advice without losing any of its meaning.”

Reporting Indirect Suggestions and Advice

When reporting indirect suggestions and advice, effective communication is key. It’s important to accurately convey the intended meaning while also adding your own personal touch to make it more engaging for the listener or reader. One way to do this is by giving feedback that is specific, actionable, and focused on improvement.

Giving feedback in reported speech can be challenging, but it’s essential for helping others grow and develop. To do this effectively, it’s important to use language that is clear and concise. Avoid vague or general statements, instead providing specific examples or suggestions for improvement. By doing so, you can help ensure that your message is received as intended and that the person receiving the feedback has a clear understanding of what they need to do next.

As we move into punctuating reported speech, it’s important to remember that effective communication requires attention not only to what we say but also how we say it.

Punctuating Reported Speech

You gotta know how to punctuate reported speech if you wanna sound like a pro. Using quotation marks is crucial when writing reported speech as it helps distinguish the speaker’s words from the writer’s own words. In direct speech, we use quotation marks to indicate that the exact words of the speaker are being used. In indirect or reported speech, we still need to indicate that someone else spoke the words, but we don’t use quotation marks anymore.

To punctuate reported speech correctly, we need to pay attention to several details. First, we always start a new paragraph whenever there is a change in speaker or topic. Second, we put commas and full stops inside the closing inverted commas when they form part of the quote; otherwise, they go outside. Third, when reporting questions or exclamations, we use question marks and exclamation points respectively at the end of the sentence instead of full stops. By following these rules, our writing becomes clearer and more professional.

Now that we have learned about punctuating reported speech correctly let us explore how to report speeches in different tenses without losing their original meaning.

Reporting Speech in Different Tenses

It’s mind-blowing how reporting speeches in different tenses can transport us to a whole new world of understanding and appreciation for the speaker’s words. One key aspect to consider when reporting speech in different tenses is ensuring proper verb agreement, particularly with past participles. In reported speech, the tense of the verb changes according to the original speaker’s tense. For example, if the original speaker said “I am confident,” it would be reported as “He/she/they said that he/she/they was/were confident.” Notice how ‘am’ changed to ‘was/were’ to agree with the third person singular or plural subject of ‘he/she/they’.

To further illustrate this point, here is a table showcasing examples of verb agreement in reported speech:

Original SentenceReported Speech
I am happy.He/she/they said that he/she/they was/were happy.
You have been working hard.He/she/they said that you had been working hard.
They will arrive soon.He/she/they said that they would arrive soon.
She has eaten breakfast already.He/she/they said that she had eaten breakfast already.

By understanding past participle usage and proper verb agreement, we can effectively report speech in different tenses while maintaining clarity and accuracy. Moving forward into our next section about reporting speech in different voices, we will explore another dimension of effective communication through language use.

Reporting Speech in Different Voices

In the previous section, we discussed how to report speech in different tenses. Now, let’s talk about reporting speech in different voices. This means that instead of using active voice, we can use passive voice to report what someone said. For example, “The statement was made by John” instead of “John said the statement.”

Another way to report speech is through interrogative form. This means using a question to report what someone said. For instance, “Did he say he would come?” instead of “He said he would come.” Both passive voice and interrogative form can be useful when reporting speech as they help you convey a specific tone or emphasis on certain words or phrases.

Moving forward into our next topic, it’s important to note that there are various styles of reporting speech that one should be aware of. By understanding these styles and how they differ from each other, you can become even more skilled at effectively conveying what someone has said in writing or speaking contexts without losing their intended meaning or tone.

Reporting Speech in Different Styles

Get ready to explore the different styles of reported speech that can add flavor and depth to your writing. While direct quotes are straightforward, paraphrasing someone’s words in your own style can be a powerful tool for conveying emotions in reported speech. There are various ways to report speech, including indirect speech, free indirect speech, and mixed speech.

In indirect speech, the speaker’s words are conveyed through a third party with reporting verbs like ‘said’ or ‘told.’ This style is useful when you want to emphasize the message rather than the speaker’s tone or emotions. Free indirect speech, on the other hand, blends first-person and third-person perspectives to create an immersive experience that captures both the message and emotions of the speaker. Mixed speeches combine both direct and indirect styles for maximum impact. Experimenting with these different styles can help you bring life into your characters’ interactions and make their words more engaging for readers.

Moving forward from exploring different styles of reported speeches is knowing how to avoid common mistakes that could ruin your writing flow.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

To avoid ruining your writing flow, you’ll want to steer clear of some common mistakes when reporting speech. Common errors in reported speech include failure to maintain verb tense consistency, misquoting the speaker’s words, and incorrect use of reporting verbs. To improve accuracy, follow these tips:

  • Always ensure that you are using the correct verb tense when reporting speech. If the original statement was made in the past tense, it should be reported using the past tense as well.
  • Be careful not to misquote the speaker’s words or take their statement out of context. It is important to accurately represent what they said.
  • Take note of any direct quotes and use quotation marks appropriately.
  • Pay attention to any nuances in tone or emphasis that may affect how a statement is interpreted.

By avoiding these common errors and following these tips for improving accuracy, you can ensure that your reported speech is clear and precise. In the next section about practice exercises, we’ll explore ways to put this knowledge into action.

Practice Exercises

You can improve your accuracy in conveying someone’s words by paying attention to the nuances in their tone and emphasis, which is like listening to a song and noticing the different instruments that create its unique melody. When using reported speech in storytelling, it is important to capture the essence of what was said while staying true to the speaker’s intended meaning. This requires careful consideration of word choice, syntax, and punctuation.

One common error while reporting speech is misquoting or paraphrasing incorrectly. It is easy to unintentionally change the meaning of what was said by omitting or adding certain words. Another mistake is failing to properly attribute the statement to its source. Whether you are writing fiction or non-fiction, giving credit where it is due not only adds credibility but also shows respect for those whose words you are sharing with your audience. By practicing these skills regularly, you can become an expert at effectively using reported speech in your writing and elevate your ability as a storyteller.


In conclusion, reported speech is a crucial aspect of effective communication. It allows us to convey information and ideas that were expressed by someone else, accurately and appropriately. By understanding the basics of reported speech, identifying direct and indirect speech, changing tenses and pronouns, using reporting verbs, reporting in different voices and styles, we can learn how to use it correctly.

It is important to avoid common mistakes such as confusing tenses or changing the meaning of the original message. Regular practice exercises can help improve our skills in using reported speech. With consistent effort and attention to detail, we can master this skill and become effective communicators who are able to accurately report what others have said.

Michael is a passionate writer and dedicated typist with a flair for helping others excel in the world of online typing. With years of experience in remote work and a deep understanding of the challenges and opportunities it presents, Michael is committed to sharing valuable insights, practical tips, and expert advice on typing online from home.