When we want to tell another person what somebody else told us earlier we can either quote them or we can use reported speech. Study the following situation:
You meet your friend, Jodi, after school. She says…
Jodi: I’m not feeling well.
Later that day, you meet Tom and would like you to tell him what Jodi said. You can do this in one of two ways. You can either repeat what she said
Jodi said, “I’m not feeling well.”
Or, you can use reported speech:
Jodi said she wasn’t feeling well.
The word that is optional in reported speech. You can use it if you want but it is not necessary. So you can say:
Todd said he liked pizza.
Todd said that he liked pizza.
When reporting what someone says, we use reporting verbs. There are many different reporting verbs but the most common are say and tell.
When using say it is important to remember that we never use the object after. So we can say:
Johnathan said (that)… (not:
Jonathan said me)
Tell is always followed by an object, it is never used without it.
Jonathan told me (that)… (not:
Jonathan told that)
In reported speech, we usually go back a step with the tense to show that the person whose speech we are reporting said what they said earlier.
The following table shows which tenses we go back a step to when using reported speech.
will / won’t
would / wouldn’t
could / couldn’t
* NOTE: It is possible to ignore the rule of going back a step with the tense if the situation or information we are reporting is still true or hasn’t happened yet.
Bob said he is having a party next Saturday
Also see: Reporting Verbs
For comparative exercises go to.: