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Reported Statements

direct statement reported statement
He said: "I am sick." He said that he was sick.

Reported statements are one form of reported speech.

We usually introduce reported statements with "reporting verbs" such as "say" or "tell":

  • He said (that)...
  • He told me (that)...
When we report a statement, we can say "He said that..." or simply "He said...". Both are possible. "He said that..." is more formal.

When we use our own words to report speech, there are one or two things that we sometimes change:

  • pronouns may need to change to reflect a different perspective
  • tense sometimes has to go back one tense (eg, present becomes past) - this is called backshift
    pronoun backshift  
direct statement He said, "I am sick."
reported statement      He said (that) he was sick.

There are sometimes other things too that we may need to change, such as time or place. Look at these examples:

    pronoun backshift   time
direct statement Jane said, "I was sick yesterday."
reported statement      Jane said (that) she had been sick the day before.
      backshift   place
direct statement She said, "It is hot in here."
reported statement      She said (that) it was hot in there.

We also sometimes need to think about the third person singular "s":

    pronoun 3rd
direct statement Mary said, "I work in London."
reported statement      Mary said (that) she workS in London.

Notice that in the above example, we do not change the tense. Usually, with the present simple, if something is still true now - she still works in London - we don't need to change it.

Typical reporting verbs for statements: say, tell, mention, inform

  • He said that... OR He said...
  • He told me that... OR He told me...
  • He mentioned that...
  • He informed me that...

Now we will look in more detail at Backshift

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