Reported speech

Direct speech are the exact words someone says. Reported speech is when someone reports on what another person has said.
In this articles you will see how to report statements in the past and present, as well as questions with or without a question word.

Base examples:
1) "There is enough snow for skiing"
He thinks there is enough snow for skiing.
2) "There is enough snow"
He said that there was enough snow.
Pay attention to word order in questions:
3) "How much snow is there?"
She wants to know how much snow there is.
4) "Is there enough snow?"
She wanted to know if there was enough snow.

1) In the first example we report something in the present (he "thinks" now, this is his opinion at the moment). That is why no transformations are necessary, we simple add phrases like "he thinks", "he believes", "they agree", and so on. For example:
George says: "She wants to go to that meeting."
George thinks that* she wants to go to that meeting.
*"That" is alright to use but can also be omitted.

2) In the second example "said" is in the past tense, which means those exact words were spoken in the past. Two types of transformations are necessary in this case:

А. Verb Tense
Because of the sequence of tenses, once we start a sentence in the past, everything else needs to be in the past, which means that "there is" from the example will become "there was". The present tense has become past.

In the following table you can see which verb tense turns into which:

Present becomes Past
Past becomes Perfect
Transformation in modal verbs:
can --> could
will --> would
must --> had to

Present Simple"I have a headache."She said (that) she had a headache.
Past Simple"She went shopping."He told me (that) she had gone shopping.
Present Perfect"They have already met."He said they had already met.
Past Perfect"We had never done that."They said they had never done that.
Present Continuous"I am reading it now."My son said he was reading it.
Past Continuous"Were you watching TV?""He asked if I had been watching TV."
Present Perfect Continuous"How long have you been waiting?"He asked me how long I had been waiting.
Past Perfect Continuous"I had been trying to get in touch."She said she had been trying to get in touch.
can"We can help you."They said they could help us.
must"Applications must be submitted by Wednesday."He explained that applications had to be submitted by Wednesday.
be going to"I am going to fly to Moscow."She said she was going to fly to Moscow.

! The tense might not have to change, for example if we are making assumptions about the future or talking about something which is true at the moment, for example:
She said she is going to fly to Moscow tomorrow morning. (The trip is upcoming, so no need to talk about it in the past.)
or Geoffrey said that the new teacher comes from Canada. (This is a fact that is true in general, also now.)

B. Individual words and phrases
Sometimes we might need to change some words, for example "now" will become "then". For example, my friend Jessica is asking me not to call her today because she is very busy: "Please don't call me, I will be very busy all day today." On the following day she meets me and complains I don't call, to which I say: "You told me not to call you because you would be very busy that day." You see, on the day we talk it is no longer the 'today' she meant.
In this way we need to make the following changes:
now then / at that time
today that day, on Sunday, yesterday
tonight that night, last night, on Sunday night
tomorrow the next/following day, on Sunday, today
yesterday the day before/the previous day, on Sunday
last night the night before/the previous night, on Sunday night
this week that week, last week
last month the month before/the previous month, in May
next year the following year, in 2014
two minutes ago two minutes before
in one hour one hour later
here there, in Starbucks
this that
this book the book, that book, War and Peace
in this room in the room, in that room, in the kitchen

3) Тhe third example comes from a question. You need to know the following about questions:
а) instead of "that" we use a question word, and when there is none, add "if" or "whether" in its place. Unlike "that", they cannot be left out. For example:
How much does it cost? She wants to know how much it costs.
Are you ready? He is asking if you are ready.
b) Word order in reported questions is the word order of the statement. For example:
It costs 64 Euro.
How much does it cost? She wants to know how much it costs.
Other examples:
Do you like jogging? He is asking if you like jogging. (not do you like)
When are we leaving? She is wondering when we are leaving. (not when are we)

4) In the last example we report a question that has been asked in the past. All rules related to questions (example 3) and past tense (example 2) apply.

Reported Speech (1)
Reported Speech (2) 
Reported Speech (3)

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