It is not always necessary to change the verb in reported speech.
If you report something and the situation hasn’t changed, you do not need to change the verb to the past:
direct : Tom said, “My new job is very interesting.”
reported : Tom said that his new job is very interesting.(The situation hasn’t changed. His job is still interesting.)
direct : Ann said, “I want to go to South America next year.”
reported : Ann told me that she wants to go to South America next year. (Ann still wants to go South America next year.)
You can also change the verb to the past:
– Tom said that his new job was very interesting.
– Ann told me that she wanted to go to South America next year.
But if you are reporting a finished situation. you must use a past verb:
– Paul left the room suddenly. He said he had to go. (not has to go)
You need to use a past form when there is a difference between what was said and what is really true.
You met Sonia a few days ago.
She said: “Joe is in the hospital.” (direct speech)
Later that day you meet Joe in the street. You sai:
“I didn’t expect to see you, Joe. Sonia said you were in the hospital.”
(not “Sonia said you are in the hospital,” because he clearly is not)
Sonia : Joe is in the hospital.
Joe : Sonia said you were in the hospital.
Say and tell
If you say who somebody is talking to, use tell:
– Sonia told me that you were in the hospital. (not Sonia said me)
– What did you tell the police? (not say the police)
Otherwise use say:
– Sonia said that you were in the hospital. (not Sonia told that …)
– What did you say?
But you can say something to somebody:
– Ann said goodbye to me and left. (not Ann said me goodbye)
– What did you sai to the police?
Tell/ask somebody to do something
We also use the infinitive (to do / to stay, etc.) in reported speech, especially with tell and ask (for orders and requests):
direct : “Stay in bed for a few days.” the doctor said to me.
reported : The doctor told me to stay in bed for a few days.
direct : “Don’t shout,” I said to Jim.
reported : I told Jim not to shout.
direct : “Please don’t tell anybody what happened,”
reported : Jackie asked me not to tell anybody what (had) happened.
You can also say “Somebody said (not) to do something”:
– Jackie said not to tell anyone. (but not Jackie said me)