Direct and Reported Speech Worksheets

These worksheets will help you to review and practice using direct and reported speech in English. Go over the explanations and examples first, then complete the illustrated exercises to practice.

These worksheets include:

  • Definitions of direct and reported speech
  • Changes in person, place, time, and possessive words
  • Reporting verbs
  • Tense shifts
  • Modal verbs in reported speech

This is a lot of information! You can also look at our page on direct and reported speech.

But you'll find the most complete explanations, examples, and exercises in our Direct Speech and Reported Speech series. They contain absolutely everything you need to learn or teach direct and reported speech.

 

What Are Direct Speech and Reported Speech?

Direct speech is exactly what a person says. When we want to quote someone's exact words, we use quotation marks.

For example:

  • "The novel is really interesting," said Andrea.

When we want to report what someone said, we do not use quotation marks. We report what they said, but we don't use their exact words. This is called reported speech or indirect speech.

For example:

  • Andrea said the novel was really interesting.

Changes in Person, Place, Time, and Possessive Words

When we use indirect speech, we are reporting what someone else said in a different time and situation. Logically, we need to change some of the words from the original statement.

This happens with person, place, time, and possessive words.

For example:

  • DIRECT SPEECH: "You are a very good employee."
    REPORTED SPEECH: He said I was a very good employee.
    (We need to change the person word.)

  • DIRECT SPEECH: "It is sunny here."
    REPORTED SPEECH: She said it was sunny there.
    (We need to change the place word.)

  • DIRECT SPEECH: "I went to a concert yesterday."
    REPORTED SPEECH: She said she went to a concert the day before.
    (We need to change the time word.)

  • DIRECT SPEECH: "Harvey is our pet dog."
    REPORTED SPEECH: She said Harvey is their pet dog.
    (We need to change the possessive word.)

Reporting Verbs

There are some verbs that we use very often when we report what other people said.

Some of the most common ones are:

  • say
  • tell
  • warn
  • promise
  • announce
  • mention

For example:

  • They said it rained all evening.
  • She promised she would call me today.
  • They announced that the President would make a speech.
  • Greg mentioned that he was sick.

 

Remember that when we use the reporting verbs tell and warn, we always need to say who.

For example:

  • Emily told me she had finished her project.
  • The lifeguard warned the swimmers there could be sharks.

It is important to remember that the word that in reported speech is almost always optional.

For example:

  • They said there was a meeting at four o'clock.
    OR
    They said that there was a meeting at four o'clock.

Tense Shift

When we report what someone else has said, we are giving the information at a later time. They said something earlier, and we are reporting it now. 

Because we are giving the information at a later time, we need to change the tense in the original statement so that it makes sense. We "back-step" with the verb tense.

For example, if the statement was made in the simple present, we report it in the simple past:

  • "I am really tired," she said.
  • She said she was really tired.

If the statement was made in the simple past, we use the past perfect when we report:

  • "They came to the house around 4:30pm," he told me.
  • He told me they had come to the house around 4:30pm.

If the statement was made in the present perfect, we use the past perfect when we report:

  • "We have eaten breakfast already," Brian said.
  • Brian said they had eaten breakfast already. 

 

 And so on. Check the complete tense shift table for more examples.

Reporting with Modal Verbs

Some common modal verbs must be changed when we use reported speech.

For example:

  • "I will be there by dinnertime," she promised.
  • She promised she would be here by dinnertime.

  • "Sam can play with you today," Mrs. Groban told me.
  • Mrs. Groban told me Sam could play with me yesterday.

  • "You must wear formal clothes to the event," the director said.
  • The director said I had to wear formal clothes to the event.

  • "We may see a movie later," Ellen said.
  • Ellen said they might see a movie later.

  • "We shall be quite tired when we finish," said Dan.
  • Dan said they would be quite tired when they finished.

Now, let's get some practice!

Exercise A: Changes in Person, Place, Time, and Possessive Words

Fill in the blanks to correctly report what these people said.

1.

"We are getting married this afternoon!"

They said they were getting married ________________ afternoon.

 

2. 

"My children gave me a tie for Father's Day."

He said _______________ children gave _________________ a tie for Father's Day.

 

3. 

"I have been standing here waiting for the elevator for ages!"

He said he had been standing _______________ waiting for the elevator for ages.

 

4. 

"You don't understand!"

He said _______________ didn't understand.

 

5. 

"I have been working on my project for two weeks."

She said she had been working on ________________ project for two weeks.

 

Exercise B: Reporting Verbs

Match the parts of sentences from the first list with the ones from the second list to form logical sentences.

1. Gerald mentioned that his mother...

2. Valerie warned us that...

3. Chelsea said her supervisor...

4. The secretary promised she...

5. The news reporter announced that...

 

a. ...wanted her to complete the project by Friday.

b. ...would be visiting him soon.

c. ...the company was going to make a public statement.

d. ...it was very dangerous to climb the mountain without a guide.

e. ...would make an appointment for me.

 

1. __________

2. __________

3. __________

4. __________

5. __________

 

Exercise C: Tense Shift

Complete the sentences for each picture using the correct tense shift.

1. 

"They are chatting about work."

He said they _____________________ about work."

 

2. 

"That man is trying to get away!"

She said the man ___________________ to get away.

 

3. 

"I love everything about her!"

He said he ____________________ everything about her.

 

4. 

"We have sung together many times before."

They said they ____________________ together many times before."

 

5. 

"I broke the window."

Timmy said he _______________ the window.

 

Exercise D: Reporting with Modal Verbs

1.

"We shall both need a nap!"

He said they ______________ both need a nap.

 

2. 

"I must finish this assignment!"

He said he ________________ finish that assignment.

 

3.

"I may have some ice cream for dessert."

He said he _______________ have some ice cream for dessert.

 

4. 

"I will fix it!"

She said she _______________ fix it.

 

5. 

"I can make a lot of money with this idea!"

He said he _______________ make a lot of money with his idea.

 

Answer Key

Exercise A: Changes in person, place, time, and possessive words

1. They said they were getting married that afternoon.

2. He said his children gave him a tie for Father's Day.

3. He said he had been standing there waiting for the elevator for ages.

4. He said didn't understand.

5. She said she had been working on her project for two weeks.

Exercise B: Reporting verbs

1. b.

2. d.

3. a.

4. e.

5. c.

Exercise C: Tense shift

1. He said they were chatting about work."

2. She said the man was trying to get away.

3. He said he loved everything about her.

4. They said they had sung together many times before."

5. Timmy said he had broken the window.


Exercise D: Reporting with modal verbs

1. He said they would both need a nap.

2. He said he had to finish that assignment.

3. He said he might have some ice cream for dessert.

4. She said she would fix it.

5. He said he could make a lot of money with his idea.