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Capýtulo 8:

 Reported speech. Estilo indirecto en inglés

If you are at a conference with a friend, and the speaker says something that you don’t quite hear, the most normal thing is to ask your friend: “what did he say?”. Your friend will naturally reply:  “He said….”

This is an example of reported speech (sometimes called indirect speech). When we change something from direct speech (the speaker’s exact words) into reported speech, we change the structure of the sentence.  This change is different for modifying statements, questions or requests.

1. Statements

When modifying statements, you often have to change:

  • Pronouns - In reported speech, you may have to change the pronoun depending on who says what. (Direct)“My father will speak to you now” (Reported) She says her father will speak to you now.
  • Present tense verbs (into 3rd person singular) – In reported speech we move from I to she/he, so the verbs must also change from 1stperson to 3rd person.
  • Place and time expressions – If you are repeating something that someone said to you on an earlier day, sometimes the place and time expression will not make sense anymore. If you are in the office and Mr Benson (a client) calls you and you missed it, perhaps the message he leave on your phone would be “I was trying to reach you today” If you are asked about the call the following day, you cannot say ‘today’ as it was the day before, so you would say “Mr Benson was trying to reach me yesterday
  • tenses (from present to past etc)


The changes in tenses are as follows.


2. Questions

For changing a question into reported speech, you have to follow the same rules as above, but with two extras.  If there is a question word, then it becomes an indirect question, if not then use if/whether as an interrogative.

For example:


3. Requests

When modifying requests, check if you should change:

  • pronouns
  • place and time expressions

Use the same rules as those for statements.  Tenses don’t change with requests, so you only have to change the simple present into to + infinitive or not to + infinitive for a negative request.

For example:


¡Go to appendix IV if you want to have a general view of the verb changes.

Activity 1
Change these sentences from direct speech to reported speech

1. “What is happening with the Sony account?”

               He asked…….

2. “Do you want to get something to eat?”

               She asked…….

3. “I believe we will be able to increase salaries by the end of next month.”

               She says…..

4. “I think we have a long weekend this week, as Friday is a bank holiday”

               He says……

5. “You’re fired! Please clean out your desk immediately!”

               He said that she…….

6. “I came in late to the meeting this morning, sorry!”

               He said……

7. “I was thinking about having a drink tonight, are you interested?”

               She said…….

8. “I’m looking for excellent sales people to take on new and exciting roles in different positions around the country.”

               He said…….

9. “I’ll meet up with you later, I have to finish some work first.”

               She said……..

10. “ Can you let me know when you’ll be free to look over the proposal?”

               He asked…..


Activity 2
Choose the correct word.

1.     He told me haven’t touched  /not touching / not to touch the remote.

2.     Charlie said I will be / I could have / I’m having the afternoon off.

3.     Frances asked if she comes to have a look / could come to have a look / do come to look at the space tomorrow.

4.     Amy asked does there / whether therewas / will there be any more pie.

5.     Olivia says will you be staying  /are you staying / did you stay for tea

6.     John requested me told you / tells you / to tell you of the new regulations.

7.     Rachel asked whether I was felt /if I had been feeling / I’ve been feeling ill all weekend.

8.     He said he thought / had been thinking / he’s thinking of leaving the country.

9.     She asked me pass her / to have passed her/ to pass her the stapler.

Mandy had wanted to knew / wanted to know if you could cover her shift tonight.

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