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Reported speech



The term is meant to  ‘an already told speech’   that is reported later . 

Here,  ‘the told speech’,  in this context known as  ‘direct speech’, has its own time,   that means ‘tense’,  related to  when it was told,  and  also ‘its tense’ further changes,   as far as the time when it is reported later .

To clear it,  let’s look at the following question and its answer,

Q : John said to his wife, “ I feel  headache”   ( direct speech)

A :  John told his wife that he felt  head ache   (reported speech or indirect speech)


Here we can understand by looking at the  finite verb  ‘feel’   ( do + feel =feel)  that the speech of  ‘John to his wife’ is  in  ‘simple present tense’  form as far as the time when it was told .

But when we reported it later,  that speech has undergone  many changes  ‘mainly  in  the tense form of its verb’,  that is  ‘feel’  (simple present)  became  ‘felt’  ( did + feel) (simple past) and also in the ‘persons’, that is  ‘first person’  subject  ‘I’  became  ‘third person’ subject  ‘he’.

Let’s look at another example,

Jancy said, “ I have been ill for a week

Jancy said that  she had been ill for a week

Here also, we  can see the similar changes, not only in its tense form but its persons too.

So,  we can primarily  conclude that  a  direct speech may undergo  many changes,  mainly in its tense form,  while being changed into reported speech.

Next,  let’s analyze the question given below,

Mathew   told  his  friends, “  I  saw  a beautiful  girl yesterday “

Now,  we know ‘the name’ of the  speech ‘put in inverted comas’ as  ‘direct speech’ ( also known as ‘Reported statement’).     But,    what can we call  ‘the  first part’ of the question  before it?.   Don’t worry..,   this first part of any question,  that is ‘the part of the question without inverted comas’, is known as  ‘the Reporting statement’.

So when we get a question,  we must identify  its ‘Reporting statement’  and  ‘Reported statement’( direct speech)

While  reading it,  many of us may get confused related to the names of the part of a question.  To avoid it, let’s remember once again the names.

  1. The part of a question ‘put in inverted comas’     ===  ‘Direct Speech’,  also known as  ‘Reported statement.’
  2. The part of a question ‘not put in inverted comas’ ==  ‘Reporting statement’.
  3. Another name of Reported speech                          ===  Indirect Speech

To  clear it again let’s go to the following  question and its answer

James told his father,   “ Dad,  my teacher told me to get this paper signed by you”

Here the part,  ‘not put in inverted comas’ ( james told his father),  is the Reporting statement of the question.  That  means,  by the term Reporting statement,  the  part of the question that  reports  who says (the direct speech) to whom.  That is why,  this part is known as Reporting statement.   Also the ‘subject’, ‘the verb’ and  ‘the object’ of this statement is known as  ‘the Reporting subject’, ‘Reporting verb’ and  ‘the Reporting object’  respectively.

Here, in the question,   ‘James’ is  the ‘reporting subject’,  ‘told’  is the  ‘reporting verb’ and  ‘his father’ is the reporting object

The next part,  ‘put in inverted comas’ ( Dad, my teacher………by you), is the ‘Direct speech’ or the ‘Reported statement’ of the question.  

This speech was directly told by James to his father.  In this sense,  it is called Direct speech.

  And also,  this speech was once reported (told).   In this sense, it is  called  ‘Reported statement’.

 So,  we can understand that a ‘direct speech’ can also be called  as  ‘Reported statement’.   

The  ‘subject’, ‘verb’ and ‘object’ of  ‘Reported statement’ are known as ‘Reported subject’,  ‘Reported Verb’ and  ‘Reported object’ respectively.

Here, in the question,  ‘my teacher’  is the ‘reported subject’,  ‘told’  in the sentence is the ‘reported verb’ and  ‘me’  is the reported object.

   When this speech is further ‘indirectly said’ or ‘reported’, then  the speech is called  ‘Indirect speech’ or  ‘Reported Speech’.


Now, let’s write the above question in reported speech, as

James told his father that  his teacher  had told him to get that  paper signed by   him  .

Here,  when the  answer is written,   ‘my’  in the direct speech is changed into  ‘his ’,    ‘ told’ ( simple past ) is changed  into  ‘had  told’(  past perfect) ,    ‘this’  is changed into  ‘that’ and  ‘you’  is changed into ‘him’.

Let’s go through more examples to find out the changes.continue reading

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