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What is Reported Speech?

What is Reported Speech? | ITTT | TEFL Blog

We can quote people through what's called direct speech. In written form it would look like “Corey said we're moving house next week”. We've used quotes and we've quoted Corey directly, i.e. used the exact words that he used. There is however another way we can quote people, and this is through reported speech. We don't quote their exact words, but we simply let people know what has been said.

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In English we often have a need to quote people. We can do so through what's called direct speech. In written form it would look like “Corey said we're moving house next week”. We've used quotes and we've quoted Corey directly, i.e. used the exact words that he used. There is however another way we can quote people, and this is through reported speech. We don't quote their exact words, but we simply let people know what has been said.

Reported speech would be Cory said that they were moving house the following week. Now there's a very good chance this doesn't match up with exactly what Corey actually said. This is because in spoken English we don't often follow the official ‘rules’ for talking about what people said. With reported speech we have to switch back the tense because we're reporting what something was said in the past.

In this example, we back shift the tense from we are moving, which is the present continuous, and we put that into the past continuous. Now ‘are’ becomes ‘were’ and the present continuous changes to past continuous. We also have to change the subject of the sentence. Initially Cory was the speaker and and he was referring to himself, but when we are reporting what he said we have to change ‘we’ to ‘they’. Additionally, we have to change the time expression ‘next week’ to something that would indicate the next or following week because there's a chance that next week is an entirely different week at the time that we're reporting what Cory said.

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