Study this example situations:
Tom: I’m feeling sick.
You want to tell somebody what Tom said.
There are two ways of doing this:
You can repeat Tom’s words (direct speech):
Tom said, “I’m feeling sick.”
Tom said that he was feeling sick.
direct : Tom said, “I am feeling sick.”
reported : Tom said that he was feeling sick.
In writing we use these quotation marks to show direct speech.
When we use reported speech, the main verb of the sentence is usually past (Tom said that … / I told her that …, etc.). The rest of the sentence is usually past, too:
– Tom said that he was feeling sick.
– I told her that I didn’t have any money.
You can leave out that. So you can say:
– Tom said that he was feeling sick. or Tom said he was feeling sick.
In general, the present form in direct speech changes to the past form in reported speech:
am/is -> was
do/does -> did
will -> would
are -> were
have/has -> had
can -> could
want/know/go, etc. -> wanted/knew/went, etc.
Compare direct speech and reported speech:
You met Jenny. Here are some of the things she said to you in direct speech:
“My parents are fine.”
“I’m going to lean to drive.”
“I want to buy a car.”
“John has quit his job.”
“I can’t come to the party on Friday.”
“I don’t have much free time.”
“I’ll call you when I get back.”
Later you tell somebody what Jenny said.
You use reported speech:
- Jenny said that her parents were fine.
- She said that she was going to learn to drive.
- She said that she wanted to buy a car.
- She said that John had quit his job.
- She said that she couldn’t come to tht party on Friday.
- She said she didn’t have much free time.
- She said that she was going away for a few days and would call me when she go back.
The simple past (did/saw/knew, etc.) can usually stay the same in reported speech, or you can change it to the past perfect (had done / had seen / had known, etc.):
direct : Tom said, “I woke up feeling sick, so I didn’t go to work.”
reported : Tom said (that) he woke up feeling sick, so he didn’t go to work.
or Tom said (that) he had woken up feeling sick, so he hadn’t gone to work.