Reported Speech

Improving one’s communication skills in English is one tough job one must do everyday. A part of this job is reporting the message of what one has said. In reporting the message, one should be very careful with the details to avoid misunderstanding between the involved parties.
In English language, giving the information about what people say or think falls under the topif of Reported Speech. There are two types of structure for relaying the information of what someone has said.
First we have the Direct speech. In this structure, we say exactly what someone has said. It is sometimes called quoted speech. Here, what a person says appear within quotation marks (“”) and should be word for word. Refer to the example below:
She said, “Today’s lesson is on presentations.” Or we can also have it in this format “Today’s lesson is on presentations”, he said. We can quote the exact words of the speaker in either of these formats.
However, the Indirect Speech doesn’t useqoutaion marks roe enclose what the person said and it doesn’t have to be word for word. We have to be very careful with using this format since the tense usually change. There is a change in the tense used because when we do a reported speech, we are usually talking about a time in the past. The verbs therefore usually have to be in the past too.
Refer to the examples below:
Direct Speech Indirect Speech
“I am going to the cinema”, he said. He said that he was going to the cinema.
The verb used in the Direct speech is in the present tense sine we have to report the exact words of the speaker. we should not change the words rather we should include each word and enclosed in quotation marks. For Indirect Speech, we have to change the tense of the verb since the action has already been done in the past so we have to use the past tense of the verb in the example.
As a rule. When you report something someone has said, you go back a tense. The tense on the left changes to the tenses on the right. Observe:
Direct Speech Indirect Speech
a. Present simple Past Simple
She said, “It’s cold.” She said it was cold.
b. Present continouos Past Continouos
She said, “I’m teaching English online. She said that she was teaching English online.
c. Present Perfect simple Past perfect simple
She said, “I’ve been on the web since She said that she had been on the web since
1999. 1999.
These are just few of the rules that needed to be observed when we use the reported speech to relay the message of what someone had said. Follow these rules and misunderstanding could definitely be avoided.
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