No Change in Verb Tenses in Reported Speech

No Change in Verb Tenses in Reported Speech! You might know that when changing from direct to indirect speech, we need to change the verb tenses in certain ways. However, there is No Change in Verb Tenses in Reported Speech when.

No Change in Verb Tenses in Reported Speech

The Introductory Verb is in the Present, Present Perfect or Future

Example:

Direct speech: He says, “I will come”.

Reported speech: He says that he will come.

Fact or General Truth

If the reported sentence deals with a fact or general truth, the present tense is (can be) retained. 

Example:

Direct speech: Copernicus: “The planets revolve around the sun.

Indirect speech: Copernicus stated that the planets revolve around the sun.

Time Clause

The reported sentence contains a time clause, the tenses of the time clause remain unchanged.

Example:

Direct speech: She said, “His parents died while he was still at school.”

Indirect speech: She said that his parents had died while he was still at school.

The Second or the Third Conditional

The verb of the sentence is in the unreal past (the second or the third conditional).

Example:

Direct speech: He said, “If I won the lottery, I would travel around the world.

Reported speech: He said that he would travel around the world if he won the lottery.

The Subjunctive

The subjunctive stays unchanged in the subordinate clause.

Example:

Direct speech: The children said, “We wish we didn’t have to take exams.”

Reported speech: The children said they wished they didn’t have to take exams.

“Had Better”, “Could”, “Would”, “Used to”, “Should”, “Might”, “Ought to” and “Mustn’t” Remain Unchanged

Example:

Direct speech: He said, “You had better to be inside in such bad weather.

Indirect speech: He said that I had better to be inside in such bad weather.

 

Direct speech: He said, “Ann might ring today.

Reported speech: He said that Ann might ring that day.

Report Something Immediately

If the speaker reports something immediately or soon after it was said, the clause often remains as spoken.

Example:

A: What did the teacher say?

B: He said that we write our lesson carefully.

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Reported Speech: Useful Rules & Examples

Reported Speech in English

Last Updated on March 1, 2021

5 thoughts on “No Change in Verb Tenses in Reported Speech”

  1. I remember that I studied the useful rules of Reported Speech. But I forgot what I studied to be honest with you. It was about 50 years ago. I need to refresh my memory.

    Reply
  2. Which is correct? She said that I can
    apply for the new post but it will mean
    working longer hours. OR. She said that I could apply for the new post but it would mean working longer hours.

    Reply
    • It depends. If the appointment is already done (if you are referring to the past) then you would change the tense, else it remains the same

      Reply
  3. Great article here.
    However, I beg to differ with your example in the Time Clause section.
    It personally doesn’t sound right to change the tense there just because one feels like.
    A change only sounds right and is to be expected when it’s an aorist subjunctive, i.e. reference to an extremely punctillar action in time.
    To die is not a punctillar action.

    Here’s an example:
    She said, “His father committed a crime while he was still at school.”

    Indirect speech: She said that his father had committed a crime while he was still at school.————————————–> CORRECT

    She said, “His father died while he was still at school.”

    Indirect speech: She said that his parents had died while he was still at school.————————————————-> SOUNDS QUITE CLUNKY

    It feels like an abrupt trail off of the sentence, sounds like you’re implying the deceased did something after the death – info you’re withholding from us – and which doesn’t even make sense, to start with.

    Thoughts?

    Reply

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