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Reported Orders

that's an order!
direct order reported order
She said: "Stop!" She told him to stop.

An order is when somebody tells you to do something and you have no choice. It is not usually polite. It is a "command". Reported orders are one form of reported speech.

We usually introduce reported orders with the verb "tell". The structure is very simple:

tell + (pro)noun + to + infinitive

  • The policeman told us to follow him.
  • We told the man not to smoke.

Because we use the infinitive there is no need to worry about tense. But as with reported statements and reported requests, we may need to change pronouns as well as time and place in reported orders.

Here are some examples:

direct order reported order
She said, "Eat your food now!" She told the boy to eat his food right then.
The policeman said: "Get out of your car!" The policeman instructed us to get out of our car.
She said, "You must make the bed before you go to work!" She told her husband to make the bed before he went to work.
The doctor said: "Don't smoke in here!" The doctor told them not to smoke in there.

Notice above that we report a negative order by using not.

The most common verb for reporting an order is "tell", but we can also use other verbs such as: order, command, instruct
For example: The sergeant shouted at his men, "Stand straight!" → The sergeant ordered his men to stand straight.

You can check your understanding of reported speech by trying our Reported Speech Quiz

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