changes in direct to indirect speech

The 4 Things you NEED to Change in Reported Speech

Welcome back to part 2 of your ‘Everyday English’ lesson on reported speech. This lesson should be reviewed after part 1 (read part 1 here), where we talked about important rules for time tense changes in indirect speech. Today, we’ll be focusing on the 4 changes necessary when you do need to make changes from direct to indirect speech.

In today’s LIVE lesson on YouTube, we had some fun practicing the changes we talked about in the beginning of the video, so I recommend watching the replay and doing your best to practice and participate as well. Even though you’re not watching live, you can still challenge yourself to make the changes in my sentence examples.

Are you ready?

In this lesson you are going to learn and review:

  1. The 4 changes necessary in reported speech
  2. How to make the changes
  3. Common sentence examples to practice

The 4 Things you NEED to Change in Reported Speech

Lesson Notes

All of these changes are necessary when the reporting verb is in the simple past. Remember, you don’t make changes if the reported verb is in the simple present.

1. Verbs & Time Tenses

Review the following time tense changes and examples:

  • simple present ⇒ simple past
    • He said, “It is so cold!”  ⇒ He said (that) it was so cold!
  • simple past ⇒ past perfect
    • He said, “I ate some pizza.”  ⇒ He said (that) he had eaten some pizza.
  • simple future [be going to] ⇒ was/were going to
    • He said, “I am going to go later.”  ⇒ He said (that) he was going to go later.
  • present continuous  ⇒ past continuous
    • He said, “I am talking to Mike.”  ⇒ He said (that) he was talking to Mike.
  • past continuous ⇒ past perfect continuous
    • He said, “I was running a lot.”  ⇒ He said (that) he had been running a lot.
  • present perfect⇒ past perfect
    • He said, “I’ve never seen the movie.”  ⇒ He said (that) he had never seen the movie.

2. Modals

Review the following modals that change and some examples:

  • can ⇒ could
    • She said, “I can do it.” ⇒ She said (that) she could do it.
  • may ⇒ might
    • She said, “It may rain later” ⇒ She said (that) it might rain later.
  • must ⇒ had to
    • She said, “John must do his homework.”  ⇒ She said (that) John had to do his homework.
  • will ⇒ would
    • She said, “I will find the note.” ⇒ She said (that) she would find the note.

3. Pronouns

Pronouns can be confusing to change because it depends on who said what, and who is telling the information to whom…

You can review some of the changes in the examples above. For example, She said, “I….”  The first person pronoun changes to ‘she’ when someone else is telling another person what the original speaker said. This is also shown in the time tense changes with ‘he’. In those examples, if the two speakers had used “me”, they would have changes to “her” and “him” (EX: “Give them to me”  ⇒ She/He said to give them to her/him.)

Other words that may need to change “we⇒ they” and “us ⇒ them” (We said, “Tell us” ⇒ They said to tell them)

*note the change for imperatives to the infinitive*

4. Time Words

Time words can also be tricky because it depends on when the original sentence was said, and when it was repeated. The important thing to remember is that the words need to change to keep the same, original meaning. Here are some of the common changes, imagining they are being repeated on a different day, and the words must change:

  • now ⇒ then
    • She said, “I can call John now” ⇒ She said (that) she could call John then.
  • today ⇒ that day
    • She said, “I am going today.” ⇒ She said (that) she was going that day.
  • tomorrow ⇒ the next day
    • She said, “Oliver will be home tomorrow” ⇒ She said (that) Oliver would be home the next day.
  • yesterday ⇒ the day before
    • She said, “We went yesterday.” ⇒ She said (that) we/they had gone the day before.
  • this (week/month) ⇒ that (week/month)
    • She said, “I may watch it this week/month” ⇒ She said (that) she might watch it that week/month.
  • last (week/month) ⇒ the (week/month) before
    • She said, “I saw Isabella last week/month.” ⇒ She said (that) she had seen Isabella the week/month before
  • next (week/month) ⇒ the following (week/month)
    • She said, “I will go on vacation next week/month.” ⇒ She said (that) she would go on vacation the following week/month.

Review these modals that don’t change:

Practice Makes Perfect

There is plenty of practice to do with the video lesson from today, so make sure you try and complete the dictation challenge from the LIVE lesson replay, and of course, try and write your own sentences in the comments below!



Are you on my email list? The answer from today’s email challenge was:

She told her that the bar might be closing soon and she was going to go check.



Happy Studying ♥

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  1. Raymone on November 5, 2019 at 5:40 pm


  2. George on June 4, 2019 at 4:21 am

    What is in the box?
    How can I transform it?
    ‘She asked me what was in the box.’ or ‘She asked me what in the box was.’

  3. Anuska on February 16, 2018 at 6:53 am

    Please could you tell me about punctuation change. I need it cause I have to submit my project.

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