Reported Speech

 

When transforming sentences from DIRECT SPEECH into REPORTED SPEECH, the following CHANGES have to be made (unless you report within the same time frame, e.g. the same day):

 

BACKSHIFT OF TENSES if the REPORTING VERB is in the PAST

 

     PRESENT > PAST

            Ex:   “It is raining.”> He told me it was raining.

 

     PAST TENSE, PRESENT PERFECT > PAST PERFECT

                   Ex:“I wrote the letter.” > She admitted she had written the letter.

                   “I have lost my keys.” > She said she had lost her keys.

 

     FUTURE > CONDITIONAL

             Ex:   “I shall/will write soon.” > She promised she would write soon.

            BUT:    “It is going to rain.” > He said it was going to rain.

                        “I am leaving tonight.” > He said he was leaving that night.

            NOTE: this is PRESENT TENSE with FUTURE MEANING

 

     FUTURE PERFECT > CONDITIONAL PERFECT

             Ex:   Will the mail have arrived by noon?” > He asked if the mail would have arrived by noon.

 

Adjustment of PRONOUNS and POSSESSIVES

 

     you > I / I > he / your > my / my > his / our > their etc.

      Ex:You can have my car.” > He said I could have his car.

 

Adjustment of TIME and PLACE ADVERBIALS

 

     this/that > these/those                                       today > that day

     here > there                                                       tonight > that night

     now > then

     yesterday > the day before / the previous day

     tomorrow > the day after / the next day / the following day

     a fortnight ago > two weeks before / two weeks earlier

     next year > the year after / the following year

     NOTE:    come >  go // go > come

     Ex.: “Are you coming to the party with us ?” > They asked if I was going to the party with them.

 

INDIRECT QUESTIONS are introduced by IF or WHETHER

 

     Ex:  “Are you joining us?”

            > They asked me / They wanted to know / They wondered IF / WHETHER I was joining

                   them.

 

IMPERATIVES are often transformed into INFINITIVES

     Ex:  Shut the window, please.” > He politely asked me to shut the window.

  

REPORTING VERBS are adapted to the MEANING/FUNCTION of the sentence

 

     admit           answer        add             protest        promise       maintain     

     implore        reply           explain        warn           wonder        exclaim        etc.

 

     Ex:  Don’t touch this wire.” > He warned me not to touch that wire.

 

SINGLE SENTENCES are often SUBORDINATED by means of CONJUNCTIONS

     (because, as, but, although etc.) or an additional reporting verb (and he added/explained )

 

     Ex:  “Shut the window, please! It’s getting cold in here.” > He requested me to shut the window because it was getting cold in there.

 

MODAL  AUXILIARIES undergo VARIOUS CHANGES

 

     can > could / was able to

            Ex:   “I can’t come.” > He informed me he couldn’t come.

                   “I can still walk very fast.” > Grampa maintained he was still able to walk very fast.

 

     could (“könnte”) > could (unchanged)

     couldn’t (“konnte nicht”) > hadn’t been able to

            Ex:   Could you help me?” > He asked me if I could help him.

                   “I couldn’t find it.” > He said he hadn’t been able to find it.

 

     may > might

            Ex:   “It may be too late.” > He feared it might be too late.

 

     shall > should

            Ex:   Shall I buy the car?” > He wondered whether he should buy the car.

 

     must > must (unchanged) / had to; mustn’t > mustn’t (unchanged) / wasn’t allowed to

            Ex:   “I must go. > He said he /must/had to/ go.

                   “You mustn’t smoke in here.” > He reminded me I /mustn’t/wasn’t allowed

                   to/smoke …

 

     need / needn’t > needed / didn’t need to; didnt have to

            Ex:   “You needn’t come to the office.” > He said I /needn’t/didn’t have to/ go to the

                   office.

 

There are NO CHANGES:

 

     if the reported statement is TIMELESS:

            Ex:   “Water freezes at zero.” > The teacher taught us that water freezes at zero.

     with CONDITIONALS (could,would,should,ought,might) and PAST PERFECT forms:

            Ex:   “I would rather leave.” > He said he would rather leave.

                   “I had better hurry.” > She said she had better hurry.

     with CONDITIONAL CLAUSES Type 2 & Type 3 (to avoid change of meaning):

            Ex:   “I would take part if I could.” > He said he would take part if he could.

     BUT: CONDITIONAL Type 1 is transformed into Type 2 (no change of meaning):

            Ex:   “I’ll join you if I can find the  time.” > He said he would join us if he could find the

                   time.