Reported Speech – Free Exercise

Write the following sentences in indirect speech. Pay attention to backshift and the changes to pronouns, time, and place.

  • Two weeks ago, he said, “I visited this museum last week.” → Two weeks ago, he said that   . I → he|simple past → past perfect|this → that|last …→ the … before
  • She claimed, “I am the best for this job.” → She claimed that   . I → she|simple present→ simple past|this→ that
  • Last year, the minister said, “The crisis will be overcome next year.” → Last year, the minister said that   . will → would|next …→ the following …
  • My riding teacher said, “Nobody has ever fallen off a horse here.” → My riding teacher said that   . present perfect → past perfect|here→ there
  • Last month, the boss explained, “None of my co-workers has to work overtime now.” → Last month, the boss explained that   . my → his/her|simple present→ simple past|now→ then

Rewrite the question sentences in indirect speech.

  • She asked, “What did he say?” → She asked   . The subject comes directly after the question word.|simple past → past perfect
  • He asked her, “Do you want to dance?” → He asked her   . The subject comes directly after whether/if |you → she|simple present → simple past
  • I asked him, “How old are you?” → I asked him   . The subject comes directly after the question word + the corresponding adjective (how old)|you→ he|simple present → simple past
  • The tourists asked me, “Can you show us the way?” → The tourists asked me   . The subject comes directly after whether/if |you→ I|us→ them
  • The shop assistant asked the woman, “Which jacket have you already tried on?” → The shop assistant asked the woman   . The subject comes directly after the question word|you→ she|present perfect → past perfect

Rewrite the demands/requests in indirect speech.

  • The passenger requested the taxi driver, “Stop the car.” → The passenger requested the taxi driver   . to + same wording as in direct speech
  • The mother told her son, “Don’t be so loud.” → The mother told her son   . not to + same wording as in direct speech, but remove don’t
  • The policeman told us, “Please keep moving.” → The policeman told us   . to + same wording as in direct speech ( please can be left off)
  • She told me, “Don’t worry.” → She told me   . not to + same wording as in direct speech, but remove don’t
  • The zookeeper told the children, “Don’t feed the animals.” → The zookeeper told the children   . not to + same wording as in direct speech, but remove don’t

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Grammar Exercise: Reported Speech Worksheet.

Choose the correct reporting verb from this list and finish the reported speech for each example.

1. "I'd go and see a doctor if I were you," Julie said to me. Julie me to go and see a doctor.

2. "Can you come and help me with this box?" John me to help him with the box.

3. "This is an exam Mr. Jenkins!! Shut up now!!!" The headmaster Mr. Jenkins to shut up.

4. "That road is very dangerous so just be very careful!" His mother him that the road was very dangerous and to be careful.

5. "Liverpool won the match last night." The journalist that Liverpool had won the match the previous night.

6. "Why don't we go and see that new film at the cinema." Bill going to see the new film at the cinema.

7. "I can come and look after the children tomorrow night." Jane to come and look after the children the following day.

8. "The lesson starts at six o'clock in the evening." The teacher us that the lesson started at six in the evening.

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RS007 - Reporting Verbs - Indirect Speech

Gap-fill exercise.

Use the correct reporting verbs to complete the sentences.

  • Justin said : "I'm going to university next autumn." Justin advised announced apologised begged insisted offered persuaded promised refused threatened that he would go to university the following autumn.
  • The doctor said to me : "You really should stay in bed and not go to work this week." The doctor advised announced apologised begged insisted offered persuaded promised refused threatened me to stay in bed and not go to work that week.
  • Dad told me : "I won't give you any more pocket money if you keep behaving like that." Dad advised announced apologised begged insisted offered persuaded promised refused threatened not to give me any more pocket money if I kept behaving like that.
  • My friend said : "You can stay with me if there's no train home so late in the evening. My friend advised announced apologised begged insisted offered persuaded promised refused threatened to stay with her if there was no train home so late in the evening.
  • Mom said: "I'll buy you a new laptop if you get good grades ". Mom advised announced apologised begged insisted offered persuaded promised refused threatened to buy me a new laptop if I got good grades.
  • She said :" I am sorry. I didn't mean to break the vase." She advised announced apologised begged insisted offered persuaded promised refused threatened for breaking the vase.
  • The reporter said: " I won't tell you who my source is." The reporter advised announced apologised begged insisted offered persuaded promised refused threatened to tell me who his source was.
  • Jack said :"Please come to the show with me. We'll have a lot of fun." So, In the end, I went with him. Jack advised announced apologised begged insisted offered persuaded promised refused threatened me to go to the show with him.
  • My father said :"I'll pay for the meal ! Put you money back in your wallets!" My father advised announced apologised begged insisted offered persuaded promised refused threatened on paying for the meal.
  • Dicky said: "Please don't tell mom, She'll punish me if she knows." Dicky advised announced apologised begged insisted offered persuaded promised refused threatened me not to tell his mother. She would punish him if she knew.

Main navigation

Learning english, reporting verbs, how difficult was this activity.

Practise using reporting verbs such as threaten, deny and advise. Read the sentences and choose the correct part of speech to follow the reporting verb.

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  • English Grammar
  • Clause structure and verb patterns

Reported speech

Level: intermediate

Reporting and summarising

When we want to report what people say, we don't usually try to report their exact words. We usually give a  summary , for example:

Direct speech (exact words) :

Mary :  Oh dear. We've been walking for hours! I'm exhausted. I don't think I can go any further. I really need to stop for a rest. Peter :  Don't worry. I'm not surprised you're tired. I'm tired too. I'll tell you what, let's see if we can find a place to sit down, and then we can stop and have our picnic.

Reported speech (summary) :

When Mary complained that she was tired out after walking so far, Peter said they could stop for a picnic.

Reporting verbs

When we want to report what people say, we use reporting verbs . Different reporting verbs have different patterns, for example:

Mary complained (that) she was tired . (verb + that clause) She asked if they could stop for a rest . (verb + if clause) Peter told her not to worry . (verb + to -infinitive) He suggested stopping and having a picnic . (verb + - ing form) 

See reporting verbs with that , wh-  and if clauses , verbs followed by the infinitive , verbs followed by the -ing form .

GapFillDragAndDrop_MTY1NTE=

GapFillTyping_MTY1NTI=

Tenses in reported speech

When reporting what people say or think in English, we need to remember that the rules for tense forms in reported speech are exactly the same as in the rest of the language.

This is a letter that Andrew wrote ten years ago:

If we wanted to report what Andrew said in his letter, we might say something like this: 

Andrew said that when he  was  22, he was an engineering student in his last month at university. He wanted  to travel abroad after he  had finished  his course at the university, but he would need to earn some money while he was abroad so he wanted  to learn to teach English as a foreign language. A friend  had recommended  a course but Andrew needed more information, so he wrote to the school and asked them when their courses started  and how much they were . He also wanted to know if there was  an examination at the end of the course.

We would naturally use past tense forms to talk about things which happened ten years ago. So, tenses in reports and summaries in English are the same as in the rest of the language.

Sometimes we can choose between a past tense form and a  present tense  form. If we're talking about the past but we mention something that's still true , we can use the present tense:

John said he'd stayed at the Shangri-la because it' s the best hotel in town. Mary said she enjoyed the film because Robert de Niro is her favourite actor. Helen said she  loves visiting New York.

or the past tense:

John said he'd stayed at the Shangri-la because it was the best hotel in town. Mary said she enjoyed the film because Robert de Niro was her favourite actor. Helen said she  loved visiting New York.

If we're talking about something that  everybody knows is true , we normally use the present tense :

Michael said he'd always wanted to climb Everest because it' s the highest mountain in the world. Mary said she loved visiting New York because it' s such an exciting city.

Hi! I found the following paragraph from a grammar site while I was studying the reported speech. Can you help me? It says; --> We can use a perfect form with have + -ed form after modal verbs, especially where the report looks back to a hypothetical event in the past: He said the noise might have been the postman delivering letters. (original statement: ‘The noise might be the postman delivering letters.’)

And my question is: How do we understand if it is a hypothetical event in the past or not? We normally don't change 'might' in reported speech. (e.g. ‘It might snow tonight,’ he warned. --> He warned that it might snow that night.) But why do we say 'He said the noise might have been the postman delivering letters.' instead of 'He said that the noise might be the postman delivering letters.’ What's the difference between these two indirect reported speeches? Could you please explain the difference? And I also found this example which is about the same rule above: --> He said he would have helped us if we’d needed a volunteer. (original statement: a) ‘I’ll help you if you need a volunteer’ or b) ‘I’d help you if you needed a volunteer.’) Can you also explain why we report this sentence like that. How can we both change a) and b) into the same indirect reported speech? Thank you very much!

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Hello Melis_06,

1. He said the noise might have been the postman delivering letters. 2. He said that the noise might be the postman delivering letters.

In sentence 1 it is clear that the noise has ended; it is a noise that 'he' could hear but it is not a noise that you can hear now. In sentence 2 the noise could have ended or it could be a noise that you can still hear now. For example, if the noise is one which is constant, such as a noise that comes from your car engine that you are still trying to identify, then you would use sentence 2. In other words, sentence 2 allows for a wider range of time possibilities - both past (ended) and present (still current).

Your second question is similar:

He said he would have helped us if we needed a volunteer - you no longer need a volunteer

He said he would help us if we needed a volunteer - this could still be relevant; you may still need a volunteer.

The LearnEnglish Team

Hello my friend : what are you doing now? me : I'm eating an apple now and My friend repeated his question now

my question

Can I repeat the sentence in the past ( I was eating an apple) and mean( I'm eating an apple now) ?

You can but it is unusual. If you say  I was eating an apple  (past continuous), it means that it was in the past. You already finished eating the apple and you are not eating it now. But if your friend asked you just a moment ago, I guess you are still eating the apple when she/he asks the second question, so I would say  I'm eating an apple  (because you are still doing it).

Alternatively, you can use a past tense reporting verb e.g. I said I was eating an apple  (referring to the time of the first question), or  I said I 'm eating an apple  (to show that you are still eating it now, at the moment of speaking).

LearnEnglish team

Am I correct then? When someone wants us to repeat the sentence we have just said a moment ago we say 'I said I am doing...' if we are still doing that action. But if we are done with that action, then we say 'I said I was doing...' Did I get it right? Thanks!

Hello Meldo,

Yes, that's correct. Well done!

Hi. I wish to enquire if the verb tense used after a conjunction also changes in complex sentences as per tense transition rules, especially if it is already in simple past tense. In order to explain, could you please solve the following for me: 1. It has been quite a while since I last saw you. 2. Nevertheless, she has been quite desensitized to such perverse actions to the extent that it seldom ever seems obnoxious to her. 3. Let me keep this in my cupboard lest I misplace this. 4. I had arrived at the station before you even left your house. 5. I met my grandfather before he died.

Hi Aamna bluemoon,

The verb may or may not be backshifted, depending on whether the original speaker's point of view and the reporter's point of view are the same or not. For example:

  • She said it had been quite a while since she last saw me . (it seems relatively recent, for both the original speaker and the reporter)
  • She said it had been quite a while since she had last seen us . (a lot of time has passed between speaking and reporting this, or the situation has changed a lot since then e.g. they have met frequently since then)
  • She said she had met her grandfather before he died . (seems quite recent)
  • She said she had met her grandfather before he'd died . (a lot of time has passed between speaking and reporting this)

I hope that helps.

Hi, can you help me, please? How could I report this famous quotation: 'There's no such things as good news in America'.

Hi bri.q630,

First of all, the sentence is not grammatically correct. The phrase is 'no such thing' (singular), not 'things'.

How you report it depends. Using 'said' as the reporting verb we have two possibilities:

1. They said (that) there's no such thing as good news in America. 2. They said (that) there was no such thing as good news in America.

Sentence 2 tells that only about the time when 'they' said it. It does not tell us if it is still true or not.

Sentence 1 tells us that what 'they' said is still relevant today. In other words there was no good news (in their opinion) when they spoke, and there is still no good news now.

Thank you Peter,

All things are getting clear to me.

So, you mean, I can use both sentences depending on what I want to indicate, can't I?

then the possible indications are bellow, are those correct?

1-a I remembered the World War 2 ended in 1945. (This would be indicated the statement is still ture.)

1-b I remembered the World War 2 had ended in 1945. (This would be indicated I might missunderstand.)

2-a I felt time is money. (This would be indicated the statement is still ture.)

2-b I felf time was money. (This would be indicated I might not feel any more.)

3-a I knew the sun rises in the east. (This would be indicated the statement is still true.)

3-b I knew the sun rase in the east. (This would be indicated I might misunderstand or forget.)

4-a I guessed* that Darth Vader is Luke's father. (This would be indicated I still believe he is.*sorry for the typo)

4-2 I guessed that Darth Vader was Luke's father. (This would be indicated I might know he is not.)

Thank you in advance.

Hello again Nobori,

1-a I remembered the World War 2 ended in 1945. (This would be indicated the statement is still ture.) 1-b I remembered the World War 2 had ended in 1945. (This would be indicated I might missunderstand.)

Both forms are possible here. The 'ending' is a moment in the past; after this there is no war. By the way, we treat 'World War 2' as a name so there is no article before it.

2-a I felt time is money. (This would be indicated the statement is still ture.) 2-b I felf time was money. (This would be indicated I might not feel any more.)

That's correct. Remember that backshifting the verb does not mean something is no longer true; it simply does not tell us anything about the present. Here, it tells the reader how you felt at a given moment in time; you may 

3-a I knew the sun rises in the east. (This would be indicated the statement is still true.) 3-b I knew the sun rase in the east. (This would be indicated I might misunderstand or forget.)

That's also correct. Again, remember that backshifting the verb does not mean something is no longer true; it simply does not tell us anything about the present.

4-a I guessed* that Darth Vader is Luke's father. (This would be indicated I still believe he is.*sorry for the typo) 4-2 I guessed that Darth Vader was Luke's father. (This would be indicated I might know he is not.)

Again, correct. In the second example it might still be true that he is Luke's father, or it might have turned out to be not true. The sentence does not tell us.

Hi Peter, Thank you for your thoughtful answer. Allthing is now very clear to me. Best

Hi, I am translating a fiction novel into English and need your help regarding the reporting speech as for few things I am not getting any clear understanding over the internet. As you know in fiction, we need to write in non-ordinary way to create unique impressions of the word and academic writing is different than speaking. Will be grateful if you could give your insight below, especially considering in the context of fiction/academic writing.

1) Let’s say If someone is giving a speech or presentation, I want to mix their speech, indirect-direct and past tense- present tense. Below are three examples:

-He said, their company makes excellent profit every year OR their company made excellent profit every year ( can both be correct? As the sentence)

- Roger had given his speech yesterday. He said, their company makes excellent profit every year and your company will sustain for next hundred years.(Can YOUR be used in the sentence)

- Roger said people wants to feel important OR Roger said people wanted to feel important (which will be correct as this is a trait which is true in past and present)

2) He thought why he is talking to her OR He thought why he was talking to her (are both write? As usually I see in novels the second example with WAS)

3) Gia was sitting with Jake and she told him she had met with her last year. Her mother had taken her to the dinner. Her mother had told her about her future plans. Her mother also had paid the bill for the dinner. (Do I need to use every time past perfect in this example though it doesn’t feel natural? As a rule of thumb I think past perfect needs to be used when we talk about another past event in the past )

Hello Alamgir3,

We're happy to help with a few specific grammar questions, but I'm afraid we can't help you with your translation -- I'd suggest you find an editor for that.

1) In the second clause, you can use present or past. We often use the present when it's still true now, but the past is not wrong. FYI we don't normally use a comma after 'said' in reported speech.

2) 'Why was he talking to her?' he thought.

3) This is really more of a question of style than grammar. Here I would suggest doing something like combining the four sentences into two and then leaving out 'had' in the second verb in each sentence. Even if it isn't written, it's understood to be past perfect.

All the best, Kirk LearnEnglish team

Hello teachers, I'm sorry, I could not find where to new post. Could you tell me about the back-sifting of thoughts bellow? Which forms are correct?

1-a I remembered the World War 2 ended in 1945. 1-b I remembered the World War 2 had ended in 1945.

2-a I felt time is money. 2-b I felf time was money.

3-a I knew the sun rises in the east. 3-b I knew the sun rase in the east.

4-a I guess that Darth Vader is Luke's father. 4-2 I guessed that Darth Vader was Luke's father.

Do those questions have the same conclusion as indirect speech, such as say and tell?

Hello Nobori,

The verb form remains the same when we want to make it clear that the situation described by the verb is still true, and this works in the same way as indirect speech. For example:

She said she loves me. [she loved me then and she loves me still] She said she loved me. [she loved me then; no information on how she feels now]

Other than this rule, the choice is really contextual and stylistic (up to the speaker). Sometimes a choice implies something. For example, the saying 'time is money' is a general statement, so if you choose to backshift here the listener will know it is an intentional choice and suspect that something has changed (you no longer believe it).

Hi teachers, I've read almost the section of comments below and my summarize is the present tense only can be used if the statement is still true now and past simple only tells the statement was true in the past and doesn't tell the statement is true or not now. Just to make sure, I wanna ask, If I'm not sure whether the statement is still true or not now, can I choose backshift instead (this is still apply to past tense become past perfect)? Thank you

Hello rahmanagustiansyah,

It sounds to me as if you've got the right general idea. Could you please give a couple of example sentences that illustrate your question?

Thanks in advance, Kirk The LearnEnglish Team

For example, Steve said "Anna hates you." Then I wanna tell about that to my friend, but I'm not sure whether Anna still hates me or not now. What should I choose between these two options. Answer 1:Steve said Anna hates me or Answer 2 : Steve said Anna hated me. Thank you

Hi rahmanagustiansyah,

In that case, I would choose answer 2. I might even add "... but I don't know if she still does" to the sentence to clarify, if that is the key point you want to communicate.

Jonathan The LearnEnglish Team

Hello Natasa Tanasa,

Both sentences are grammatically possible.

The first sentence is only possible if when the person asks the original question the woman is no longer there (she has already gone). The second sentence can be used in this situation too, or in a situation in which the woman was still there when the original question was asked. As the past tense is used in the original question ( Who was... ), both sentences are possible.

Hello Ahmed Imam,

When the situation is still true at the time of reporting, we can leave the verb form unchanged. For example:

1. She told me she loved me.
2. She told me she loves me.

In sentence 1 we know she loved me when she told me but we don't know whether or not she loves me now. In sentence 2, we know she loved me when she told me and we know that she loves me now.

In your example, if the supermarket is still in the same place then we can use either form. If the supermarket has been closed down or moved to another location then we need to use was .

As for which is 'safer', you'll need to make your own mind up! Keeping the verb in the same form carries more specific information and that may be appropriate or even important.

Hello eugelatina87,

I'll give you a hint: a verb is missing from the question.

Does that help you complete it?

All the best,

The first two sentences are possible and they can both mean that he is still Mary's boyfriend now. The first one makes this more clear, but the second one doesn't only refer to the past.

Hello magnuslin

Regarding your first question, the most common way of saying it is the second one. In some very specific situation, perhaps the first option would be possible.

This also answers your second question. It is not necessary to always backshift using the tenses you mention.

As for your third question, no, it is not necessary. In fact, it is probably more common to use the past simple in the reported speech as well. 

All the best

Hello manu,

Both forms are possible. If you use  had been  then we understand that he was there earlier but not when he said it - in other words, when he said it he had already left. If you use was then he may have left at the time of speaking, or he may have still been there.

Hello _princess_

I would recommend using answer a) because this is the general pattern used in reported speech. Sometimes the verb in the reported clause can be in the present tense when we are speaking about a situation that is still true, but the reported verb in the past tense can also have the same meaning. Since here the time referred to could be either past or present, I'd recommend using the past form.

Hello mwright,

This is an example of an indirect question. An indirect question reports a question, but is not a question itself, which is why we do not use a question mark at the end. Since it is not a question, we use the normal word order without inversion or auxiliary verbs. For example:

Indicative: He lives in Rome. Interrogative: Does he live in Rome? (Where does he live?) Reported: She asked if he lives in Rome. (She asked where he lives.)  

Hello ahlinthit

There are different styles of punctuating direct speech -- in other words, you might find other sources that will disagree with me -- but what I would use here is something different: "The boss is dead!" said the doctor.

Hope this helps.

Best wishes

Hello Timmosky,

The form that comes after the auxiliary verb 'do' (or 'does' or 'did') is not the plural present simple verb, but rather the bare infinitive (also known as 'base form' or 'first form') of the verb. Does that make sense?

All the best, Kirk The LearnEnglish Team

Hello sky-high,

This is very formal language. The phrase 'to the effect that' means 'with the meaning that'. In this context it can be understood to mean 'with the result that'.

Best wishes,

The difference is quite logical. If we use 'said' then we are talking about a claim by Peter in the past which he may or may not still maintain. If we use 'says' then we are talking about an opinion expressed by Peter which he still holds.

The reported information (whether or not Rooney is in good shape) can refer to only the past or to the present as well and the statement (what Peter thinks) can separately refer to only the past or the present as well. Of course, all of this is from the point of view of the person reporting Peter's opinion, and whether or not they think that Peter still thinks now what he thought then.

Both are possible. If you use the present tense then it is clear that the statement is still true (i.e. the business was not growing when Mary spoke and is still not growing now). If you use the past tense then no information is given regarding the present (i.e. the business was growing when Mary spoke and may or may not be growing now).

Hello aseel aftab,

It should be 'if they had'. This is not from this page, is it? I don't see it anywhere here, but if I've missed it please let me know.

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First (FCE) B2 Key Word Transformations – Reporting Verbs Exercise

Reporting verbs is a challenging grammar point at B2 level, but doing plenty of reporting verbs exercises can help. This grammar combines reported speech, which is nobody’s favourite, with verb patterns, which is really nobody’s favourite. Throw in using the reporting verbs in the past and you’ve got a messy lesson on your hands.

In the First Certificate exam, there often seems to be at least one key word transformations question with reporting verbs. So, like always, we need to prepare students for the eventuality of encountering it in the exam. Below, you’ll find 10 key word transformation questions for the Cambridge B2 First (FCE) Use of English Part 4. If you are looking for even more transformations to practise for the exam, consider picking up Breakout English’s book 250 Key Word Transformations for the B2 First exam.

GET 250 B2 FIRST (FCE) KEY WORD TRANSFORMATIONS:

reporting verbs exercise

Why do you need to know reporting verbs?

It is essential to familiarise your students with the unique structures that follow reporting verbs so that they can confidently and accurately use them in their exams. One effective way to do this is through drilling. This involves repeating the structures multiple times to help students internalise them. You can do this by repeating the phrases from your controlled practice activity in a course book or grammar book. Try drilling by building up the sentence from one word until it’s complete. Then break it back down. Drill fast, then slow, then quiet, then loud. It’s a fun activity and helps students with complex pronunciation and connected speech.

Another useful technique is to present your students with real-life examples of how the reporting verbs are used in context. This could involve reading articles or watching videos that contain examples of reporting verbs. Encourage your students to identify and highlight the reporting verbs in the text and discuss the structures that follow them. Youglish is an impressive tool to find words in context in YouTube videos. Just search for the phrase you want to see and it will find a series of videos using that word.

Incorporating role play activities can also be helpful. For example, students could take on the role of journalists reporting a news story, or characters in a scene discussing events that have taken place. After the role play, have students switch roles and share their findings. This forces them to used reported speech and reporting verbs. These reporting verbs activities not only provide students with the opportunity to practise using reporting verbs but also allow them to have fun while doing so.

Examples of reporting verbs

As you can see in the examples below, there are often multiple structures that can be used following different reporting verbs. They might be followed by a gerund, an infinitive, a preposition + gerund or a “that” clause. They might also require or not an object following the verb.

“We should go out on Saturday,” suggested Paul.

  • Paul suggested going out on Saturday.
  • Paul suggested (that) we go out on Saturday

“I didn’t see anything,” claimed Sarah.

  • Sarah claimed not to have seen anything.
  • Sarah claimed (that) she hadn’t seen anything.

“I’m going to quit my job,” announced Jane.

  • Jane announced (that) she was going to quit her job.
  • Jane announced quitting her job.

“I can’t make it to the meeting,” apologised Tom.

  • Tom apologized for not being able to make it to the meeting.
  • Tom apologized (that) he couldn’t make it to the meeting.

“I’ve never been to Paris,” admitted Lucy.

  • Lucy admitted (that) she had never been to Paris.
  • Lucy admitted never having been to Paris.

It’s important to note that some reporting verbs have a set structure that we must follow, while others can have more flexibility in terms of structure. It’s also important to be aware of the tense changes that might occur in the transformation from direct speech to reported speech.

Practice is key when it comes to mastering reporting verbs. Encourage your students to practise using different reporting verbs and structures in various contexts to help them feel confident and comfortable with this grammar point.

There are no hard and fast rules to tell your students which verbs have which patterns, so use your course book or a nice grammar explanation like this one from perfect-english-grammar.com .

Reporting Verbs in English: List with Examples & Exercises

Reporting verbs are used when you want to tell someone about another conversation. We also call this reported speech or indirect speech. Two examples of reporting verbs are say and tell. There are many others and these have different meanings and grammar structures. In this study guide, we’ll look at examples of these verbs and show you how to use them correctly. We’ll also look at reporting verbs to improve your academic writing. Let’s go!

reporting verbs reported speech exercises

What are reporting verbs?

Reporting verbs list.

  • How do I use them?

Reporting verbs in academic writing

  • Test your knowledge: exercises

How to learn English with songs and music

What you will learn: 

Reporting verbs (or referring verbs) are words used to report about (or refer to) what another person has said, written or done. These verbs are used in reported speech, which can be direct or indirect.

The first reporting verbs that English students learn are usually say and tell . For example compare i) and ii) below:

  • “It’s my birthday next weekend. Please, make a birthday cake for me!” Charlotte said to her mum ( direct speech)

Charlotte told her mum to make a birthday cake for her. ( indirect speech)

There are many other reporting verbs in English. These can be particularly useful in formal and academic writing.

reporting verbs reported speech exercises

General reporting verbs

In this table, we have listed out some common reporting verbs that are used in everyday English. To help you understand how to correctly place them in a sentence, we have put them into approximate categories based on their most common usage. However, you should remember that some of these reporting verbs can be used in difference contexts and sometimes with different grammar structures.

Academic reporting verbs

In the table below, we’ve listed out the reporting verbs in groups based on their general meanings. We have also indicated the relative “strength” of each verb. For example, if I imply (suggest/hint, weak) that you are wrong, this is very different from if I assert (state/say, strong) that you are wrong. Remember that English is seldom “black vs. white” – there are often several degrees of meaning.

How do I use reporting verbs?

Understanding what the verbs mean is generally the easiest step. You see a new word, you learn what the word means in your own language and you learn how to pronounce it in English. In actual fact, you can only really say you’ve learnt a word when you also know how to accurately use it in a sentence.

Let’s return to our example with Charlotte’s birthday cake:

 “It’s my birthday next weekend. Make a birthday cake for me,” Charlotte said to her mum ( direct speech)

Easy, right? Now let’s consider that there are many other ways that Charlotte could say this in English. Depending on what she said and how she said it, you might need to use a different reporting verb, not just say or tell . For example:

  • If you want to express the idea of “ Don’t forget ” “ Don’t forget to make a birthday cake for me.” Charlotte reminded her mum to make a cake.
  • If you want to express the idea of “ No, I don’t want to do something ” (i) “ I’m not going to make my own birthday cake!” Charlotte said that she wouldn’t make her own cake.(ii) “ I’m not going to make my birthday cake. You can do it!” Charlotte refused to make a cake. (iii) “I’ve got lots of work to do this weekend and I might be too busy for other things”Charlotte hinted that she wouldn’t make the cake.  

In these sentences, there are three different verbs (say, hint, refuse). They all mean “no” but say is a neutral verb, hint is a weak verb, and refuse is much stronger .

  • If you want to express the idea of “Please do this!” “ Can you make a birthday cake for me, please ?” Charlotte asked her mum to make a cake. “ Please, please, please, can you make a cake for my birthday?” Charlotte begged her mum to make a cake (or) Charlotte pleaded with her mum to make a birthday cake. Ask, plead and beg all have a similar meaning, but plead and beg are much stronger than ask.

Learning words in English is like collecting bricks to build a house. It’s not enough just to get the bricks. You also need to learn how to arrange them correctly so that your house is solid! You can’t build a good house from just a couple of bricks (e.g. say and tell). That’s why you need to learn more vocabulary – like reporting verbs. We don’t want the Big Bad Wolf to blow your house down!

Let’s take a look at HOW to use reporting verbs in real sentences. Below, we have divided the verbs into their different grammar structures so they are easier for you to learn.

1. Reporting verb + infinitive

Verbs: Refuse, decide, promise, demand, agree, threaten, plead with Examples:

reporting verbs reported speech exercises

  • Charlotte refused to make a cake. ( NOT : Charlotte refused making a cake)
  • My boss decided to give me a promotion.
  • The teacher demanded to know who was responsible for the mess.
  • We agreed to keep quiet and not tell anyone the news. (or) We agreed that we would keep quiet.
  • We threatened to go to the police.
  • They pleaded with the man to release the hostage.

2. Reporting verb + somebody + (not) infinitive

Verbs : remind, ask, beg, warn , order, encourage, persuade, advise, urge, agree Examples :

  • Charlotte reminded her mum to make a cake.
  • They asked me to cook
  • He begged his friend not to tell
  • They warned me not to go there by myself.
  • The government has ordered everybody to stay at home.
  • Her parents always encourage her to work
  • They persuaded me to stay for another drink.
  • The doctor advised me to stop
  • Our new neighbours have invited us to have dinner with them tomorrow.

3. Reporting verb + verb +ing

Verbs: Deny, suggest, recommend, report, propose, admit

These verbs can be used with +ing or with that , but it’s generally better to be concise and use the +ing verb. Short and sweet! Examples :

  • They denied taking the last biscuit. (short) (or) They denied that they had taken the last biscuit. (long)
  • She admitted stealing the money. (or) She admitted that she had stolen the money. / She admitted to me that she had stolen the money.
  • She suggested taking a taxi because it would be quicker. (or) She suggested that we took a taxi.
  • I recommend going in the morning when the weather isn’t so hot. (or) I recommend ( that) we go in the morning.
  • I propose cancelling the next meeting until we have made a decision. (or) I propose that we cancel the next meeting.

4. Reporting verb + preposition + verb + ing

Verbs: Blame smbd for, accuse smbd of, insist on, apologise for, complain about, confess to, forbid smbd from, agree to, think about Examples :

  • They blamed me for missing the train.
  • She accused her friend of
  • He apologised for breaking the window.
  • She is thinking about moving to France.
  • He insisted on paying for everybody. / He insisted that he paid for everybody.
  • They complained about not having a small hotel room. / They complained that they didn’t have a bigger room.

The reporting verbs we use in academic writing also follow specific grammatical patterns. Again, it is important to know whether the verb needs +ing, the infinitive , or that after it.

5. Academic reporting verb + that

Verbs: Point out, find, observe , state, agree, believe, assert, claim, contend, explain, guess, assert, imply, reason, prove, note, report, reveal.

5. Academic reporting verb + that

  • Bosley (2017) found that elderly patients experience fewer symptoms of pain when they have regular access to some form of nature. (or) Bosley (2017) found a link between symptoms and access to nature. ( find smth )
  • Martinez (2008) and Zhang (2009) agree that … (or) Martinez (2008) and Zhang (2009) agree with this theory . ( agree with + smth/smbd )
  • Persson (2003) claims that a community is impossible without a shared aim.
  • Research conducted by Bradwell in 2017 revealed that there was a considerable difference in the amount of time UK and US teenagers spent with their families. (or) Research conducted by Bradwell in 2017 revealed a considerable difference in the amount of time UK and US teenagers spent with their families.

6. Academic reporting verb + smth

Verbs: Develop, study, focus on, acknowledge, doubt, contribute to, echo, subscribe to, question, disapprove of, dispute, reject, discuss, investigate, illustrate, present, outline, put forward, consider, support, emphasise, challenge, analyse, discard, identify, explore, propose, highlight, stress. Examples:

  • Wang (2016) supports the idea that there is a significant link between play and child development. NOT : Wang (2016) supports that there is a significant link between play and child development.  
  • Roberts (2018) identifies three possible factors in early diagnosis.
  • Solara (2015) questions the importance of this approach. (or) Solara (2015)  questions whether this approach is important.
  • Barboza (2018) rejects the three factors presented by Solara.
  • Miller (2016) discusses this theory in detail. NOT : Miller (2016) discusses about this theory in detail

In academic writing, reporting verbs are used when you want to refer to what another person has said. You do this to strengthen your own argument and to show that other academics think the same as you.

It would be easy to just learn the verb “to state”, and use this all the time. However, using a range of other verbs can allow you to express your opinion about the author’s idea more precisely. For example, “to state” is quite neutral , but “to claim” implies that there is no proof behind what the author is saying.

Past or present tense?

You can use both the past and the present tense in academic writing.

If you are talking about recent research, use the present. This makes a connection between past research and now, which adds weight to your argument.

  • Wang (2016) support s the idea that there is a significant link between play and child development. (present simple)

If you are talking about how research was conducted, you will need to use the past simple (either active or passive voice).

  • Wang (2016) examin ed fifty groups of siblings. (past simple) The siblings were asked the following questions. (passive voice)

Avoid these common mistakes!

  • It’s possible to express someone’s opinion using “According to…”. This does not need a reporting verb. “According to” does the job of a reporting verb already. e.g. “According to Covey (2017)…” (Not: “ According to Covey (2017) states that… ”)
  • A source written by one author will need a singular verb with “-s” at the end e.g. “Liu (2016) suggest s that…” (Not: “ Liu (2016) suggest that… ”)
  • A source written by more than one author will need a plural verb. e.g. “Liu and Helzer (2016) suggest that…” (Not: “ Liu and Helzer (2016) suggests that… ”)
  • If you use “et al.” to indicate multiple authors, this will also require a plural verb as it means “they”. e.g. “Rosenberg et al. (2018) argue that…” (Not: “ Rosenberg et al. (2018) argues that…” )

Reporting verbs: Exercises

  • Why didn’t you _____________ me that you don’t eat meat? a) say.  b) tell
  • I didn’t ____________ anything to you, because I was too worried. a) tell.    b) say
  • We __________ them to meet us in the main square at half past eleven. a) told.  b) said
  • You should ________ her that you don’t want to go on holiday. a) say.  b) tell
  • Are you going to ___________ anything to Sue about your good news? a) say.  b) tell
  • They have ________ that we will need to bring our own bed linen and towels. a) told.    b) said

Which of these sentences are right and which are wrong? Choose correct or incorrect.

  • She suggested to study together for the exam. a . Correct    b. Incorrect
  • I said you not to do that. a. Correct    b. Incorrect
  • I didn’t tell anyone anything. a . Correct.  b . Incorrect
  • We have decided live in the countryside. a. Correct    b. Incorrect
  • My grandmother always encouraged to learn to cook. a. Correct    b. Incorrect

Choose the correct verb to complete the sentences.

  • She invited me ________ to her house for a drink after work. a. go    b. going  c. to go
  • She asked me _________ some money. a. lending    b. to lend    c . to lend her
  • They persuaded me _________ to London with them. a. go    b. to go    c. of going
  • He advised _______ more exercise. a. I do    b. me to do    c. me doing
  • He begged me not _______ anybody about the accident. a. of telling    b. tell    c. to tell
  • He reminded ________ to renew the car insurance. a . to me    b. me    c. of me
  • She refused _______ the washing-up again! a. me to do    b. to do.  c. doing
  • She apologised _________ me an angry text message. a. of sending. b. for sending    c. sending
  • He admitted ________ the red wine on the sofa. a. spilling    b. to spill    c. spill of
  • He suggested _________ on a cycling holiday next year. a. go    b . going c. we going
  • He denied _________ my car. a. taking    b . to take    c. taking of
  • She decided __________ the risotto. a. having.  b. to have    c. to having

Exercise 1:

Exercise 2:

  • b. Incorrect (She suggested studying together for the exam.)
  • b. Incorrect (I told you not to do that.)
  • b. Incorrect (We have decided to live in the countryside.)
  • b. Incorrect (My grandmother always encouraged me to learn to cook.)

Exercise 3:

reporting verbs reported speech exercises

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reporting verbs reported speech exercises

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reporting verbs reported speech exercises

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Reported speech - 1

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Worksheets - handouts

Reported speech

Worksheets - pdf exercises.

  • Reported statements - worksheet
  • Worksheet - reported questions
  • Reported yes/no questions
  • Worksheet - reported speech
  • Reported speech - exercises pdf
  • Indirect speech - exercises
  • Reported speech - exercises
  • Mixed reported speech 1
  • Mixed reported speech 2
  • Reported speech 1 
  • Reported speech 2  
  • Reported speech 3 
  • Reported speech 4
  • Reported speech 5
  • Reported wh- questions
  • Reported speech - worksheet 
  • Reported commands
  • Reported questions
  • Reported speech 1
  • Reported speech 2
  • Reported requests and orders
  • Reported speech exercise
  • Reported questions - worksheet
  • Indirect speech - worksheet
  • Worksheets pdf - print
  • Grammar worksheets - handouts

Grammar - lessons

  • Reported speech - grammar notes
  • How to use reported speech - lesson
  • Tense changes - grammar

Indirect speech – reported speech

Choose the correct form to complete the sentences below..

1 'I work in a bank.' ⇒ He said that he worked has worked had worked in a bank.

2 'I am working today.' ⇒ She told us she  worked was working is working  that day.

3 'I've been ill for a couple of weeks.' ⇒ He told me he was ill is ill had been ill for a couple of weeks.

4 'I was at the doctor all morning.' ⇒ She told me that she would be had been has been at the doctor all morning.

5 'I'll lend you the money .' ⇒ He told me he would lend was lending lent me the money.

6 'I can't do it without your help.' ⇒ She said she hadn't done couldn't do didn't do it without my help.

7 'The meeting may start early.' ⇒ He told us that the meeting would start might start can start early.

8 'I must leave early today.' ⇒ He said that he left had to leave must leave early that day.

9 'You should talk to Jim.' ⇒ She said that I should talk would talk talked to Jim.

10 'Get out!' ⇒ She told me I get out to get out I got out .

What is indirect speech or reported speech?

When we tell people what another person said or thought, we often use reported speech or indirect speech. To do that, we need to change verb tenses (present, past, etc.) and pronouns ( I, you, my, your, etc .) if the time and speaker are different. For example, present tenses become past , I becomes he or she , and my becomes his or her , etc.

  • Sally: ‘ I don’t have time.’  ⇒ Sally said that she didn’t have time. 
  • Peter: ‘ I am tired .’  ⇒ He said that he was tired. 

Omission of that

We often leave out  that after reporting verbs like  say, think ,  etc. 

  • She said she was late. (= She said that she was late. )
  • I thought I would get the job.  

Say or tell ?

The most common verbs we use in reported speech are  say and  tell . We must pay attention here. We say  tell somebody something  and  say something (to somebody) .

Tense changes in indirect speech

Download full-size image from pinterest.

When a person said something in the past and now we tell somebody what that person said, the time is different, and for this reason, the verb tenses change. Look at a summary of these changes.

Changes in expressions

There are adverbs or expressions of time and place that change when we report what someone said. Here you have a list.

Questions and imperatives in indirect speech

We use the normal order of words in reported questions : subject + verb. We don’t use an auxiliary verb like do or did .

When we report an order or instruction, we use the form ask or tell someone to do something .

Pronoun changes in indirect speech

In reported or indirect speech, we must also pay attention to the use of pronouns. When a person tells us something, he or she uses the first person ( I, me, my, we, us, our ) to talk about himself or herself and the second person ( you, your ) to talk about us, the person listening. But when we tell someone else what that person said, we are going to use the third person ( he, she, his, her, etc. ) to talk about the speaker and the first person ( I, me, my ) to talk about ourselves, the listener.

  • ‘ I will help you .’  ⇒ He said that he would help me. 
  • ‘That’s my pen.’  ⇒ She said that it was her pen. 
  • ‘ I need your help.’  ⇒ She said that she needed my help. 

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reporting verbs reported speech exercises

Reported Speech, Reporting Verbs Practice (Author-Bouabdellah)

IMAGES

  1. REPORTED SPEECH

    reporting verbs reported speech exercises

  2. Reported commands and requests

    reporting verbs reported speech exercises

  3. REPORTED SPEECH

    reporting verbs reported speech exercises

  4. Reported Speech: online worksheet and pdf

    reporting verbs reported speech exercises

  5. reporting verb reported speech

    reporting verbs reported speech exercises

  6. Reported Speech: Useful Rules & Examples

    reporting verbs reported speech exercises

VIDEO

  1. Live English Class: Common reporting verbs

  2. Reporting Verbs| Reported Speech 2 PUC English Grammar 2023|

  3. Live Class: Reported speech

  4. Rules of Reporting Verbs- Reported Speech।Reported Speech । Direct indirect speech in English।

  5. Gramatyczne Jam Session #5: REPORTING VERBS

  6. Reported speech

COMMENTS

  1. Reporting Verbs Exercise 1

    Reporting Verbs 1. Make a new sentence with the same meaning using the reporting verb in brackets. 1) "You shouldn't go into the water," said the coast guard. (advise against) [ . Check. Show. 2) "I'll go to France on holiday," said John. (decide, using infinitive) [ . Check.

  2. Reporting verbs

    Reporting verbs. Reporting verbs are used to report what somebody said, like promise, say, ask, admit, etc. And we normally classify these verbs into different groups depending on the structure they can be found in. In the grammar chart below you can see the most common reporting verbs and how they are used. Download full-size image from Pinterest

  3. Reported speech: reporting verbs

    indirect speech: He denied finishing the coffee. Try this exercise to test your grammar. Grammar test 1. Reported speech 3 - reporting verbs: 1. Grammar explanation. When we tell someone what another person said, we often use the verbs say, tell or ask. These are called 'reporting verbs'. However, we can also use other reporting verbs.

  4. Reported Speech

    RS007 - Reporting Verbs Intermediate. RS006 - Reported Speech Intermediate. RS005 - Reported Speech - Introductory Verbs Advanced. RS004 - Reported Speech Intermediate. RS003 - Reporting Verbs Intermediate. RS002 - Reported Speech Intermediate. RS001 - Reported Speech Intermediate. Reported Speech - English Grammar Exercises.

  5. Reporting Verbs

    Download this explanation in PDF here. Try an exercise about reporting verbs here. In the page about reported speech, we talked about how to change direct speech ("I love coffee") into reported speech (Seonaid said that she loved coffee), using the verbs 'say', 'tell' and 'ask'.However, we can also use many other verbs to report what someone said, like 'promise', 'warn', 'advise' and 'recommend'.

  6. Reported Speech

    Rewrite the demands/requests in indirect speech. The passenger requested the taxi driver, "Stop the car.". → The passenger requested the taxi driver . to + same wording as in direct speech. The mother told her son, "Don't be so loud.". → The mother told her son . not to + same wording as in direct speech, but remove don't.

  7. Grammar Exercise

    Advanced. Choose the correct reporting verb from this list and finish the reported speech for each example. 1. "I'd go and see a doctor if I were you," Julie said to me. Julie me to go and see a doctor. 2. "Can you come and help me with this box?" John me to help him with the box. 3.

  8. Reported Speech Exercises

    Perfect English Grammar. Here's a list of all the reported speech exercises on this site: ( Click here to read the explanations about reported speech ) Reported Statements: Present Simple Reported Statement Exercise (quite easy) (in PDF here) Present Continuous Reported Statement Exercise (quite easy)

  9. RS007

    Jack me to go to the show with him. My father said :"I'll pay for the meal ! Put you money back in your wallets!" My father on paying for the meal. Dicky said: "Please don't tell mom, She'll punish me if she knows." Dicky me not to tell his mother. She would punish him if she knew. Check. RS007 - Reporting Verbs in Reported Speech - English ...

  10. Reporting verbs

    C1-C2. Time. 5-10 minutes. Skills. Grammar. Practise using reporting verbs such as threaten, deny and advise. Read the sentences and choose the correct part of speech to follow the reporting verb.

  11. Unit 7

    Solutions > Upper-Intermediate > Grammar > Unit 7 - Exercise 2 - Reporting verbs. Unit 7 - Exercise 2 - Reporting verbs. Choose the correct answer.

  12. Reporting Verbs Exercises (with Printable PDF)

    Reporting Verbs Exercise #2. Rewrite the original sentences using the reporting verb in brackets. Answers will vary slightly. Example: "You shouldn't eat before you swim," said my mother [advise] Answer: My mother advised me not to eat before swimming. "Study harder!". Mary told Maria. [recommend] *.

  13. Patterns with reporting verbs

    Verbs in this group include accuse (someone of), blame (someone for), and congratulate (someone on). Verb + that + subjunctive. Some reporting verbs can also be followed by that + the base form of the verb. The verb in this part of the sentence is in the subjunctive and has no tense. We suggest that she read the documents carefully before signing.

  14. Reported speech

    Reported speech (summary): When Mary complained that she was tired out after walking so far, Peter said they could stop for a picnic. Reporting verbs. When we want to report what people say, we use reporting verbs. Different reporting verbs have different patterns, for example: Mary complained (that) she was tired. (verb + that clause)

  15. PDF Unit 12B Grammar: Reported Speech(2)

    All of the above listed reporting verbs can also fit into structure 1: rep. verb (+that) + clause Billy denied (that) he had stolen the bag. She admitted (that) she had left the freezer door open. 4B. Reporting verbs followed by a gerund: rep. verb + preposition + verb+ing. Reported Speech.

  16. First (FCE) Transformations

    Reporting verbs is a challenging grammar point at B2 level, but doing plenty of reporting verbs exercises can help. This grammar combines reported speech, which is nobody's favourite, with verb patterns, which is really nobody's favourite. Throw in using the reporting verbs in the past and you've got a messy lesson on your hands.

  17. Reporting Verbs in English: List with Examples & Exercises

    Test your knowledge: exercises What are reporting verbs? Reporting verbs (or referring verbs) are words used to report about (or refer to) what another person has said, written or done. These verbs are used in reported speech, which can be direct or indirect. The first reporting verbs that English students learn are usually say and tell. For ...

  18. Reported speech exercises

    Exercises: indirect speech. Reported speech - present. Reported speech - past. Reported speech - questions. Reported questions - write. Reported speech - imperatives. Reported speech - modals. Indirect speech - tenses 1. Indirect speech - tenses 2.

  19. Reported speech

    Reported speech 2. Reported requests and orders. Reported speech exercise. Reported questions - worksheet. Indirect speech - worksheet. Worksheets pdf - print. Grammar worksheets - handouts. Grammar - lessons. Reported speech - grammar notes.

  20. Reported speech

    Paraphrase the following sentences using the most appropriate reporting verbs. Write complete sentences. Do NOT use that-clauses, similar clauses without the word 'that', or the words 'if', 'whether', 'why', 'could', 'should' and 'would'. Do NOT paraphrase or rewrite the sentences in brackets.

  21. 37 Reported speech: Reporting verbs English ESL worksheets p…

    Reporting verbs. Ask your students to read the sentences and transform them using the verbs in bold. It is a good exercise to revise the Reported Speech with different reporting verbs. 7005 uses.

  22. Indirect speech

    Questions and imperatives in indirect speech. Download full-size image from Pinterest. We use the normal order of words in reported questions: subject + verb. We don't use an auxiliary verb like do or did. When we report an order or instruction, we use the form ask or tell someone to do something. Pronoun changes in indirect speech

  23. 4 Reported speech: Reporting verbs, Sentence transformation,…

    naiaragg08. Reporting speech: reporting verbs. With this exercise, you are going to be able to practise your skills in reported speech. This sheet includes 12 sentence transformations from direct to indirect s... 427 uses. naiaragg08. Sentence transformation fce. With this exercise, you are going to be able to practise the grammar related to b2 ...

  24. English Exercises: Reported Speech, Reporting Verbs Practice (Author

    Practice the use of some specific reporting verbs with this MCQ exercise. ... Reported Speech, Reporting Verbs Practice (Author-Bouabdellah) Downloadable worksheets: Reported Speech exercises Level: intermediate Age: 12-17 Downloads: 4654 : REPORTED SPEECH STATEMENTS (B&W VERSION INCLUDED)