Exceptional rules in Reported Speech

Exceptional rules

  1. If the direct speech indicates a ‘general truth’ or  ‘universal truth’ and also  ‘a continuing  habitual action’,   ‘the tense form’ of  ‘the direct speech will not be changed’,  even if the  ‘reporting verb’  is in  ‘simple past’.

Eg: Peter said,” Knowledge is power”                    ( a general truth)

      Peter said that knowledge is power                 ( so the tense form is not changed)

Eg: Children studied, “ The Sun sets in the West”   ( a universal truth)

      Children studied that the Sun sets in the West  ( so the tense is not changed)

Eg: Martin said  yesterday, “ I walk 10 km daily”      ( still a continuing habitual action)

      Martin said yesterday that he walks 10 km daily  ( so the tense is not changed)

Here,  in the last example,  though the reporting verb  ‘said’  is  ‘simple past’,  the tense form of  the direct speech is not changed,  as it indicates a  continuing habitual action.    

But, if it had been a discontinued habitual action,   its tense form would have been changed and, the answer would be  Martin said yesterday that he walked 10 km daily.

Of course,  we can’t judge the continuity of a habitual action from a single question.  So this type of questions are expected in reporting dialogues from an extract of a story  or events, as the question shown below,

Report the direct speech in italics.

Mathew  and George have been  best friends  ever since they started their school days.  Now they are working in a software company.  George is fond of doing exercises and Mathew is not.  George always advises Mathew to do exercises and  makes him aware of the importance of exercises.   Yesterday evening, on their way  to home , George said to Mathew, ”  I play tennis for 1 hour daily morning after my walking  for 5 kms.”   to make  him enthusiastic in exercises.

Here,  from the events mentioned above,  we are sure that the habitual action  of George  referred in the direct speech  is still continuing,   that is his habitual action is lively at the time of describing the events and,  tomorrow also he will continue it.      So  when it is reported,  its tense form should be written in simple present tense form as,

Yesterday evening, on their way to home, George told Mathew that he plays tennis for 1 hour daily morning after his walking for 5 kms to make him enthusiastic in exercises.

(‘Simple present’ is used to show  a  ‘general truth’, ‘universal truth’ and  a  ‘habitual action’)


II   If the reporting verb is in ‘simple present’ or ‘simple future’,  ‘the tense forms’ and ‘the modal auxiliaries of the direct speech’   will not be changed,  as shown below;


Eg: Rinu says, “ They have come here many times “

     Rinu says that they have come there many times

Here the reporting verb ‘says’ is in ‘simple present’ form,  so the ‘tense form’ of the ‘direct speech’ remains as ‘present perfect tense’ ( have + come ) when changed into reported speech.   But as per rule, the word  ‘here’ changes as  ‘there’.

Eg: Martin will say, “ India can win the match”

      Martin will say that India can win the match

Here the reporting verb ‘will say’  is in ‘simple future’ form,   so the modal auxiliary ‘can’ is not changed in the reported speech

So, we have studied the  exceptional rules in reported speech and also the changes that may be happened in accordance with the tense form of the reporting verbs.  Now we are going to study about the common changes in reported speech in any tense form.continue reading

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