As a rule when you report something someone has said you go back a tense: (the tense on the left changes to the tense on the right). This is because when we use reported speech, we are usually talking about a time in the past (because obviously the person who spoke originally spoke in the past). The basic rules for backshift when transforming direct speech into reported speech are:
|Direct speech||Indirect speech|
She said, “It’s cold.”
She said it was cold.
She said, “I’m teaching English online.”
She said she was teaching English online.
|Present perfect simple
She said, “I’ve been on the web since 1999.”
|›||Past perfect simple
She said she had been on the web since 1999.
|Present perfect continuous
She said, “I’ve been teaching English for seven years.”
|›||Past perfect continuous
She said she had been teaching English for seven years.
She said, “I taught online yesterday.”
She said she had taught online the day before.
She said, “I was teaching earlier.”
|›||Past perfect continuous
She said she had been teaching earlier.
She said, “The lesson had already started when he arrived.”
NO CHANGE – She said the lesson had already started when he arrived.
|Past perfect continuous
She said, “I’d already been teaching for five minutes.”
|›||Past perfect continuous
NO CHANGE – She said she’d already been teaching for five minutes.
Exceptions –> In up-to-date reporting and when reporting a universal truth or law of nature, the verb tenses can either change or remain the same. For example: He said Paris is/was the capital of France.
Modal verb forms also change:
|Direct speech||Indirect speech|
She said, “I’ll teach English online tomorrow.”
She said she would teach English online tomorrow.
She said, “I can teach English online.”
She said she could teach English online.
She said, “I must have a computer to teach English online.”
She said she had to have a computer to teach English online.
She said, “What shall we learn today?”
She asked what we should learn that day.
She said, “May I open a new browser?”
She asked if she might open a new browser.
Note! – There is no change to could, would, should, might and ought to.
If the reported sentence contains an expression of time, you must change it to fit in with the time of reporting.
For example we need to change words like here and yesterday if they have different meanings at the time and place of reporting.
|Today||+ 24 hours – Indirect speech|
|“Today’s lesson is on presentations.”||She said the lesson of the day before was on presentations.|
|Expressions of time if reported on a different day|
|this (evening)||›||that (evening)|
|these (days)||›||those (days)|
|(a week) ago||›||(a week) before|
|last weekend||›||the weekend before last / the previous weekend|
|next (week)||›||the following (week)|
|tomorrow||›||the next/following day|
In addition, if you report something that someone said in a different place to where you heard it you must change the place (here) to the place (there). For example:
|At work||At home|
|“How long have you worked here?”||She asked me how long I’d worked there.|
In reported speech, the pronoun often changes to match the subject of the sentence. For example:
|“I teach English online.”||She said she teaches English online.|
There are special reported sentences one needs to be careful with:
Reporting questions are usually introduced by ask, inquire, wonder, want to know, etc. When reporting questions, it is especially important to pay attention to sentence order. When reporting yes/ no questions connect the reported question using ‘if’. When reporting questions using question words (why, where, when, etc.) use the question word.
- She asked, “Do you want to come with me?” BECOMES She asked me if I wanted to come with her.
- Dave asked, “Where did you go last weekend?” BECOMES Dave asked me where I had gone the previous weekend.
Commands, requests, suggestions
To report commands, instructions, requests or suggestions, we use an appropriate introductory verb – ask, order, beg, suggest, tell, etc – and the to-infinitive, -ing form or that-clause depending on the verb. Check this list of reporting verbs if in doubt.
- “Stop the car!”the policeman said to him BECOMES The policeman ordered him to stop the car.
- “How about going to the cinema?”, I said to them BECOMES I suggested going to the cinema.
Did you say you need any further practice? Find it at ESL tests
Following the unit, I’d like you to practise your reported speech by quoting some of our politicians. Check this web www.brainyquote.com to see some of their most memorable quotes. John F. Kennedy, for example, said:
“When written in Chinese, the word “crisis” is composed of two characters. One represents danger and the other represents opportunity.
You can keep looking for more just by typing the name of other politicians. There is even a section for our crisis time. Enjoy!
Have you ever experienced any difficulties in distinguishing like /as when writing a composition? Our colleague Encarni has prepared a wonderful tutorial for you all to understand it once and for all. Thank you Encarni for such a thorough work.
Take this test on As vs Like to check you understood it all.
English has two articles: the and a/an. The is used to refer to specific or particular nouns; a/an is used to modify non-specific or non-particular nouns. We call the the definite article and a/an the indefinite article.
For example, if I say, “Let’s read the book,” I mean a specific book. If I say, “Let’s read a book,” I mean any book rather than a specific book.
Let’s look at each kind of article a little more closely.
Indefinite Articles: a and an
“A” and “an” signal that the noun modified is indefinite, referring to any member of a group. For example:
- “My daughter really wants a dog for Christmas.” This refers to any dog. We don’t know which dog because we haven’t found the dog yet.
Remember, too, that in English, the indefinite articles are used to indicate membership in a group:
- I am a teacher. (I am a member of a large group known as teachers.)
- Brian is an Irishman. (Brian is a member of the people known as Irish.)
- Seiko is a practicing Buddhist. (Seiko is a member of the group of people known as Buddhists.)
Remember, using a or an depends on the sound that begins the next word. So…
- a + singular noun beginning with a consonant: a boy; a car; a bike; a zoo; a dog
- an + singular noun beginning with a vowel: an elephant; an egg; an apple; an idiot; an orphan
- a + singular noun beginning with a consonant sound: a user; a university
Count and Uncount Nouns
The can be used with uncount nouns, or the article can be omitted entirely.
- “I love to sail over the water” (some specific body of water) or “I love to sail over water” (any water).
A/an can be used only with count nouns.
- “I need a bottle of water.”
Definite Article: the
The definite article is used before singular and plural nouns when the noun is specific or particular. The signals that the noun is definite, that it refers to a particular member of a group. For example:
“The dog that bit me ran away.” Here, we’re talking about a specific dog, the dog that bit me.
It is also used before superlatives He is the fastest man ever, with national groups The English love tea, with inventions and species of animal, e.g. the computer, the polar bear, when there is only one of something, e.g. the Moon.
Geographical use of the
There are some specific rules for using the with geographical nouns.
Do not use the before:
- names of most countries/territories: Italy, Mexico, Bolivia; however, the Netherlands, the Dominican Republic, the Philippines, the United States
- names of cities, towns, or states: Seoul, Manitoba, Miami
- names of streets: Washington Blvd., Main St.
- names of lakes and bays: Lake Titicaca, Lake Erie except with a group of lakes like the Great Lakes
- names of mountains: Mount Everest, Mount Fuji except with ranges of mountains like the Andes or the Rockies or unusual names like the Matterhorn
- names of continents (Asia, Europe)
- names of islands (Easter Island, Maui, Key West) except with island chains like the Aleutians, the Hebrides, or the Canary Islands
Do use the before:
- names of rivers, oceans and seas: the Nile, the Pacific
- points on the globe: the Equator, the North Pole
- geographical areas: the Middle East, the West
- deserts, forests, gulfs, and peninsulas: the Sahara, the Persian Gulf, the Black Forest, the Iberian Peninsula
Omission of Articles
Some common types of nouns that don’t take an article are:
- Names of languages and nationalities: Chinese, English, Spanish, Russian
- Names of sports: volleyball, hockey, baseball
- Names of academic subjects: mathematics, biology, history, computer science
Check your articles by completing these tests:
As promised and just in case you need to consolidate the concept of countable and uncountable
Here go some links to interactive exercises
In the English language, there are many verbs, nouns and adjectives which are followed by specific prepositions. The prepositions are called dependent because their choice depends on the particular word and its meaning.
Despite the know-it-all linguists who say that all languages are equally difficult or easy to learn, it’s clear that some languages are harder to learn than others, at least, some bits of them. One of the maddening things about English is prepositions – in most cases, foreigners never completely get the knack of them and continue to have problems with them.
Find attached a file with them all.
Take these online quizzes to have further practice on:
1. Modal verbs do not take “-s” in the third person. Examples:
- He can speak Chinese.
- She should be here by 9:00.
2. You use “not” to make modal verbs negative, even in Simple Present and Simple Past. Examples:
- He should not be late.
- They might not come to the party.
3. Many modal verbs cannot be used in the past or the future tenses without changing form. Examples:
- He will can go with us. Not Correct. He will be able to go with us. Correct
- She musted study very hard. Not Correct. She had to study very hard.
4. All modal verbs except ought to and used to are used with the bare infinitive without to. Examples
- I must finish my homework.
- I ought to finish my homework.
Common Modal Verbs
For the purposes of this tutorial, we have included some expressions which are not modal verbs including had better, have to, and have got to and some others. These expressions are closely related to modals in meaning and are often interchanged with them.
The English modal verbs are often challenging for learners of English. This happens for many reasons, including both grammar and meaning. In this post, we’ll take a look at the different modal verbs and their usage. Have a look at this interesting and detailed tutorial.
Now, you can have some practice on them at http://www.englishpage.com/modals/modalintro.html
That’s all folks!!! Let’s use them, shall we?