English Grammar Online … the fun way to learn English!

auf DeutschDictionaryPaperback (in German)

Cram Up
Study Tips
Daily English
Read On
Chill Out
Games & Riddles
Chat with Egon
Take On
Calendar 2015
Teach In
Cultural Studies

Statements in Reported Speech


In reported speech, you often have to change the pronoun depending on who says what.

She says, “My mum doesn’t have time today.” – She says that her mum doesn’t have time today.


No backshift

Do not change the tense if the introductory clause is in Simple Present (e. g. He says). Note, however, that you might have to change the form of the present tense verb (3rd person singular).

He says, “I speak English.” – He says that he speaks English.


You must change the tense if the introductory clause is in Simple Past (e. g. He said). This is called backshift.

He said, “I am happy.” – He said that he was happy.
Direct Speech Reported Speech
Simple Present Simple Past
Present Progressive Past Progressive
Simple Past Past Perfect Simple
Present Perfect Simple
Past Perfect Simple
Past Progressive Past Perfect Progressive
Present Perfect Progressive
Past Perfect Progressive
Future I (going to) was / were going to
Future I (will) Conditional I (would)
Conditional I (would)

The verbs could, should, would, might, must, needn’t, ought to, used to do not normally change.

He said, “She might be right.” – He said that she might be right.

Place and Time expressions

For place and time expressions you have to check whether place and time are the same in direct and reported speech or not. Check out the following example:

It is Friday and you meet James at a restaurant. James tells you that he saw Caroline in this restaurant today. (“I saw Caroline here today.”) A few minutes later, Helen joins you and you want to report what James has told you. Place (here) and time (today) are the same and you can say:

→ James said that he had seen Caroline here today.

One day later, you meet Mary at the same restaurant. Again, you want to report to her what James has told you. The place is the same, but not the time (it happened yesterday). So you would say:

→ James said that he had seen Caroline here yesterday.

Still a few days later, Tom rings you at home. Again, you want to report to him what James has told you. However, now you are not at the restaurant (but at home) and a few days have passed since then. So you would say:

→ James said that he had seen Caroline at the restaurant on Friday.


→ I met James in a restaurant on Friday and he said that he had seen Caroline there that day.

Therefore you always have to think which place and time expressions are logical in a certain situation.

In the following table, you will find ways of transforming place and time expressions into reported speech.

Direct Speech Reported Speech
today that day
now then
yesterday the day before
…days ago …days before
last week the week before
next year the following year
tomorrow the next day / the following day
here there
this that
these those

Changed: 10th Dec 2010 19:35

URL: http://www.ego4u.com/en/cram-up/grammar/reported-speech/statements