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Reported Speech

Practice talking about what other people tell you or what they say using reported speech.

When you want to describe or report what someone else said, there are

two ways to do it. You can use Direct Speech or Indirect Speech (reported speech).

Learn the difference between direct speech and Indirect Speech

How to form reported speech

How to report commands and orders

Practice using reported speech

Download this explanation as a PDF

What's the difference between direct and indirect speech?

Look at this example:

Looks like Marko is angry. Let's talk about what he said.

Direct Speech

You can repeat exactly what Marko said with quotation marks:

Marko said, “I’m really angry!”

Indirect Speech

Or you can use reported speech:

Marko said that he was really angry.

Compare the difference


Direct speech

  • often used in newspapers, articles, and books.

  • often used with say, shout, reply, and ask

  • only the main verb changes to the past

  • The doctor asked, “Are you feeling okay?”

  • My mother shouted, “You are not allowed to use your phone for a week!”

Reported speech

  • often used with ‘say’ and ‘tell’

  • used without quotation marks

  • doesn’t have to be exactly what the person said (paraphrased)

  • you can choose to use ‘that’ or not

  • He said that he was angry. or He said he was angry.

Reported Speech Form

To correctly form reported speech, you must move the tense of the direct speech back one step.

Look at this example:

All tenses must move back one step when they are reported.

Modal Verbs

Modal verbs must also move to the past when they are reported.

Reporting Orders and Commands

We use imperatives when we give orders or commands. For example,

  • “Don’t do that!”

  • “Sit down!”

  • “Be careful!”

When you want to report an order you must use the verb ‘tell,’ and the infinitive of the verb.

Look at this example:

This professor is with his students in class...


“Look at this example.”


The professor told us to look at the example.

More examples:

“Don’t go in the water, it’s dangerous”. He told us not to go in the water, because

it was dangerous.

“Fasten your seatbelts.” The flight attendance told us to fasten our


“Eat more vegetables.” My doctor told me to eat more vegetables.

Practice forming reported speech


Power in Numbers

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it's time to practice SPEAKING

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