GRAMMAR: REPORTED SPEECH. IMMEDIATE AND REMOTE PAST REPORT.
The tense of the verb in the original sentence normally changes when this statement is reported as a past event.
a) b) c)
Original statement Reported statement
a) "The road is closed". I told you the road was closed.
b) "They are repairing it." I told you they were repairing it.
c) "The bridge has collapsed." I told you the bridge had col-
d) "No one can cross it." I told you no one could cross it.
While the tense-change shown above is normal, it need not be made if, for example, the speaker wishes to emphasize that the situation described in the actual words spoken still exists and it can also be applied to the time of reporting. Thus:
the road is closed, they are repairing it. the bridge has collapsed, no one can cross it. Bob: I'm tired.
Jim: What did you say?
Bob: I said I'm tired.
In this situation the tense of the verb is not changed because the reported statement is given very soon after the original statement. Olga: Can I miss class tomorrow?
Teacher: What did you say?
Olga: I asked if I can (or could) miss class tomorrow.
The reported statement is near the time and place of the original statement.
Present report: Immediate past report: Remote past report: Mary to Jane a month ago: Jane to Lucy a month later:
I'm ready to leave.
Dick says he's ready to leave.
Dick said he's ready to leave. Dick said he was ready to leave. My mother is seriously ill.
Last month I met Mary. She was hurrying to the hospital. She said her mother was seriously ill.
She was very upset. Yesterday Mary rang me up and said her mother is quite well now. (the event is past, th 343b15d e situation has changed.) Mary to Jane today: My mother is seriously ill. Jane to Lucy on the same day:
- Mary said her mother is seriously ill. She is down with pneumonia.
- I'm very sorry.
(the situation hasn't changed, its relevancy at the present
moment is emphasized).
Jane to her teacher explaining why she was late for class: On my way I met I friend of mine. She looked very upset. She said her mother was seriously ill. I had to stop to talk to her. (Jane merely states the fact of something previously said without emphasizing its relevancy.)
- Why didn't you wait for me?
- You said you were not ready and I was in a hurry, (the event is past)
- Let's call on Alec.
- I don't think
he is at home. Robert told me the other day he was in
(there is a lapse of time, the situation might have changed)
- Glad to see
you, Alec. Peter said you were in
- I've just returned.
(the situation has changed)
- Mr Smith told me today he knows five foreign languages.
- Yes, and he speaks three of them fluently, (the situation still exists).
The tense of the original statement is usually not
changed when the speaker reports a historical fact or general truth: He said
Notice that in these situations it is also correct to change the verb into the past. But you must use a past tense when there is a difference between what was said and what is really true. Study this example situation:
You meet Ann. She said: "Jim is ill."
Later that day you see Jim playing tennis and looking well. You say: "I'm surprised to see you playing tennis. Ann said you were ill." (not "you are ill", because he isn't ill).
Here are some more example situations:
(John to Clara at a dance)
You are the prettiest girl I've ever met.
Clara to her friend on the morning after the dance:
John told me I'm the prettiest girl he has ever met. (It is unlikely that he has met a prettier girl in the interval). But if Clara reports the conversation to a friend after a considerable interval of time, she will probably (unless she is very vain) say:
John told me I was the prettiest girl he had ever met.
While the present tense may be retained if John reports his own words on the same night he has uttered them, he will not preserve the present tense if he is speaking on the following morning:
I told her she was the prettiest girl I had ever met.
He may still feel that she is the prettiest girl he has ever met, but for him the compliment is less immediate than it is for her: she is interested in the substance of what he said - she treasures the compliment and she hears him still saying it; he recollects the fact of saying it, an event irrevocably in the past, and he naturally gives it a past tense.
This point of immediacy or remoteness of interest arises even in cases when the permanence of the situation is absolute. For Mrs Smith the category of her own blood group is a matter of pressing concern at any point of time from the moment when she first learns it from the doctor:
The doctor told me my blood group is B.
Mr Smith, a loving husband, may identify his interests so entirely with those of his wife that he also will invariably use the present tense. But a mere observer will report:
The doctor told Mrs Smith her blood group was B. Study some more example situations:
- Where is Susan?
- Jack said she is still working in the library. He has just seen her there.
(the situation hasn't changed.)
- John said
he's leaving for
- I'm going to see him off. (a future event is expressed)
- Who told you I was going to change my job?
- I don't remember.
- Wasn't it Peter?
- Yes, perhaps it was.
- What put that idea into his head, I wonder.
(there is a difference between what was said and what is really true)
- Mike said he would come and help me with my maths but he didn't.
- Don't you
know that he has left for
- Peter said we shall have a meeting now. Do you know where?
- In room 25. (the event is future)
Note: Would is generally used even when the event referred to is not yet past)
- Did you speak to Jack yesterday?
- Yes, I did.
- What did he say?
- He said he would finish the scheme next week.
- Dick promised that he would repair my taperecorder tomorrow.
- Last month he promised he would repair my radio-set but he never did.
- Do you know the amazing news? Peter rang me up today and said he has won a car in the lottery!
- Isn't he lucky!
(relevancy, immediacy of interest; seldom used)
Steve told me he saw Lucy yesterday.
Mrs Smith said she moved here two years ago.
(the idea of priority is of no importance, the statements are
reported near the time and place of the original statements.)
ADVERBS AND DEMONSTRATIVE PRONOUNS IN REPORTED SPEECH
Demonstrative pronouns and
adverbs of proximity in time
this morning (week, month,
next week (month, year)
some days (weeks, months,
last week (month, Sunday, etc.)
Study these example situations: I passed my final (Peter to you today)
Demonstrative pronouns and adverbs of remoteness in time and space that (those) that day
that morning (week, month, summer) then there
the next (the following) day the next week (month, year) before
some days (weeks, months, hours) before
the day before, the previous day the previous week (month, Sunday, etc.) or the week (month, year, etc.) before
exam yesterday. (Peter to you last week)
Peter told me he passed his final exam yesterday.
I saw Peter last Friday and he told me he had passed his final exam the day before, (the previous day)
I shall phone you tomorrow.
(Mike to you today)
Mike promised he would phone
(Mike to you last Monday) Mike promised me (last Monday) he would phone me the next (the following) day but he didn't.
I am going to
(Alec to you two days ago) Alec told me he's going to
(Alec to you three months ago) When I saw Alec he said
he was going to
My brother is coming tonight.
(Peter to you today) (Peter to you some days ago)
Peter told me his brother is When I met Peter the other day coming tonight. he said his brother was coming
I lost my watch some days ago. (Peter to you today) (Peter to you last month)
Peter told me today he lost his watch some days ago.
Peter told me (last month) he had lost his watch some days before.
I saw Jane last week.
(Mike to you yesterday)
Mike told me yesterday he saw
Jane last week.
(Mike to you last month) When I met Mike last month he told me he had seen Jane the previous week.
I'm very busy today.
(Peter to you today)
Peter said he's very busy today.
(Peter to you some days ago) I invited Peter to the cinema last Monday but he said he was very busy that day.
(Robert to Alec on Monday): I'm leaving tomorrow.
(Alec on the same day): Robert said he's leaving tomorrow.
(Alec on Tuesday): Robert said he is leaving today.
(Alec on Wednesday): Robert said he was leaving yesterday.
(Alec on Thursday): Robert told me on Monday he was leaving
the next day. (the following day)
(Mike's mother to you): He is at the Institute now.
I've just called on Mike. His When I called on Mike yester-
mother said he's at the Institute day evening his mother said he
now. was at the Institute at that time.
(Your friend Victor to you on leaving
here again next summer.
(You to your mother): Victor (Victor to his friend in
promised that he would (will) I spent this summer at my
come here again next summer. friend's in
/. Analyse the use of tenses in reported speech:
gо abroad. I said I wanted to stay in
k several letters to write she would drop us there, and we could come __back with Cynthia in the pony-trap. (A. Christie) 23. "Did you tell
him his tea was ready?" (J. Osborne)
24. "It was lucky, she said, -that I'd come now." (A. Christie) 25.
"Catherine asked me to tell you she was sorry she-couldn't see you this
evening." (E. Hemingway) 26. "You told Arthur's mother I'd broken my
leg." "It was only a joke." 27. "I told you, didn't I, that
Mr Inglethorp has returned?" (A. Christie) 28. "I promised I'd give
her the money tomorrow." (S. Maugham) 29. "Did he tell you that he'd
used my riding whip on me?" (J. Galsworthy) 30. "Then I hope he told
you that my name is Edward, not Willy." (L. Hellman) 31. "Hey! I'm
sorry! You hear me? ... 1 said I'm sorry. ... I told you I'm sorry." (T.
Williams) 32. "We know what you said." "I said that I did so by
request." (T. Dreiser) 33. "We told Miss Mackay how much you liked
art." (M. Spark) 34. "Denery told her he saw me in the travel agency.
I was sure he would." (L. Hellman) 35. She promised that she would come
and see him sometimes and that she would never forget him. (S. Maugham) 36. He
said yesterday that he will not be buying a copy of the "Who's Who?"
37. "He said to tell you he's a journalist, sir." (M. Thomas) 38.
"She said we see more of you here on your summer vacation than she sees
all year round in
//. In this situation someone says something to you which is ' opposite of what they said before. You have to answer: I thought you said... e.g. That restaurant is expensive.
I thought you said it wasn't expensive.
1. Ann is coming to the party. 2. Bill passed his exam. 3. I can afford a holiday this year. 3. Steve likes chess. 4. Gemma wants to join us. 5. It often rains here. 6. Victor is keen on theatre. 7. Jane wants to take part in the expedition. 8. I know her address, e.g. - Sorry, but I cannot come with you.
- But you said yesterday you could come with me.
- Yes, I said I could but now I can't, e.g. - They won't join us, you know.
- But they said they would.
- Yes, they said they would but they've changed their minds. 1. Sorry, I cannot do it for you. 2. Alice will not take part in the
concert. 3. Sorry, but I can't join you. 4. Dick won't be present. 5. Sorry, but I can't lend you my bicycle. 6 Sorry, but I can't go on this excursion. 7. Betty won't stay with us. 8. Dick won't go fishing with us tomorrow. 9. I'm sorry but I can't help you. e.g. - When 1 was in the Crimea!
- But you told me you hadn't been in (to) the Crimea! 1. When I was in London... 2. When I studied French.... 4. When Alec was in the Caucasus.... 5. When Jane phoned me.... 6. When Dick lived in Paris....
///. In this situation there is a difference between what was said and what is really true. e.g. Ann says "I'm tired". Ten minutes later she says "Let's play
tennis". What do you say?
You said you were tired.
1. Your friend says "I'm hungry", so you go to a restaurant. When you get there he says "I don't want to eat." What do you say? 2. Tom tells you "Ann has gone away". Later that day you meet her. What do you say? 3. Mike says "I don't smoke." Later that day you see him smoking. 4. You arranged to meet Jack. He said "I won't be late." At last he arrives 20 minutes late. What do you say? 5. Kate said "I can't come to the party tonight." That night you saw her at the party. What do you say? 6. "The food is very good in that restaurant" were your friend's exact words, so you both went there but neither of you liked the cooking. What do you say? 7. "I know the way" Robert said. You both got lost. What do you say?
IV. In this situation there is a difference between what you thought and what is really true:
e-g- - I go to work by bus. (tube)
- 1 thought you went to work by tube. 1. I drink coffee, (tea) 2. He smokes cigars, (a pipe) 3. I leave home at 8. (9) 4. I start work at 9. (10) 5. I eat in the canteen, (in a restaurant) 6. 1 get up at 6. (7) 7. He writes detective stories, (love stories) 8. The tram leaves at 4. (4.30) 9. I come from Scotland. (Wales) 10. I play tennis, (golf) 11. I collect coins, (stamps) 12.1 agree with Peter. (Paul) 13.1 always have lunch with Andrew. (George) 14. I paint in water-colours, (oils) 15. He prefers Ann. (Mary) 16. I cook it in butter, (oil) 17. He sells taperecorders. (radios) 18. I teach English. (French) 19. I live in Washington (New York)
V. Report the original statements in the following situations:
Situation: The girl asked Tom about the film. "Wonderful" he
said. He told her it was wonderful. 1. Robert asked his teacher about his mark in the test. "Very
bad" was the answer. 2. "You are a very good student" the teacher said. Robert was pleased. 3. The doctor looked at Jane and said: "You have a very bad cold!" 4. The doctor looked at Tony and said: "You are too fat!" 5. Mrs Butler put another cigarette in her mouth. It was her 30 th that day. "You smoke too much" her husband said. 6. The mechanic looked at Bert's car and said: "The engine is worn out!" 7. Jane was already in the pool. "The water's very warm" she shouted, so Tony jumped in. 8. The salesman wanted f 5000 for the car. "The price is too high" Sam said and walked out of the shop. 9. The teenager wanted a drink but the barman looked at him and said: "You are too young." 10. Jane asked the time. "It's five o'clock" was Mary's answer. 11. In the middle of the test Robert said: "I have a terrible headache." The teacher's answer was: "All right. You can go out." 12. Mr Brown's watch was broken, so he asked his friend the time. "3.30" was the answer. "I'm awfully sorry but I have to go now. I have an appointment." 13. "I have done my test" Bill said. "You may go out" said his teacher.
VI. Choose the right word:
1. A few days (before, ago) we celebrated my mother's fifty-fifth birthday. She was sorry her cousin wasn't present. He had gone away on business (yesterday, the day before). 2. I gave my friend my dictionary (last week, the week before) and he promised to return it (tomorrow, the next day). He kept his promise. 3. (Last month, the previous month) I saw John. He looked sunburnt. He had returned from the south (last week, the previous week). 4. Dick spent last Sunday in the country. He said he had worked hard (today, that day). 5. I saw Mary at 5 (yesterday, the day before). She said she was very busy (now, then). 6. When I was at Victor's some days (ago, before) he showed me a good dictionary. He said he had bought (this, that) dictionary in England. 7. I've just phoned Bill. I learned that he is leaving (tonight, that night). 8. I met John at the library some days ago. He said he would come (here, there) again (tomorrow, the following day).
VII. Report the following statements:
1. Mike to Peter (on Friday): My brother is coming tonight. Peter to Kate (on the same day): Peter to Kate (on Saturday): Peter to Kate (a week later):
2. Mary to Dick (on Tuesday): I saw Harry yesterday. Dick to Jane (on the same day): Dick to Jane (on Wednesday): Dick to Jane (a week later):
3. John to Lucy (on Monday): I'm taking my English exam tomorrow.
Lucy to Tom (on the same day): Lucy to Tom (on Tuesday): Lucy to Tom (on Wednesday): Lucy to Tom (on Saturday):
4. Betsy to Kate (on Monday): I'm very busy today. Kate to Tom (on the same day):
Kate to Tom (a few days later):
5. Fred to Steve (on Saturday): I wrote to my mother this morning. Steve to Bill (on the same day):
Steve to Bill (on Sunday):
6. Mary (pointing to a table near a window): I left the book there Joan (standing by the window):
Joan (explaining the situation to another):
7. Helen to Mary (on Monday morning): I'm free now. Mary to Barbara (a few minutes later):
VIII. Use the following sentences in situations: e.g. She said she had returned from Italy the previous week.
Last month I met my friend Lucy. I hadn't seen her for a long time. She said she had returned from Italy the previous week. 1. He said he is leaving tonight. 2. He said he had consulted a doctor the day before. 3. He said she is in hospital now. 4. He said he would spend his holidays there again. 5. She told me she saw an interesting film yesterday. 6. He said he would be leaving for Moscow that night. 7. She said she would go to the south this summer. 8. He told me he had bought a car the previous week. 9. He promised he would fix it the next day. 10. She said he was in the library at that time. 11. She said she will be taking her exam tomorrow. 12. She said she would go away on business next week. 13. She said she received a parcel last week. 14. He said he's going to visit Bill today.
IX. Yesterday you met a friend of yours, Charlie. He told you a lot of things. Here are some of the things he said to you:
I'm thinking of going to live in Canada.
My father is in hospital.
Nick and Jane are getting married next month.
I haven't seen Bill for a while.
I've been playing tennis a lot lately.
Later that day you tell another friend what Charlie said. Use
X. Alan is coming to spend a few days with the Smiths. He pho
nes from the station. Betty Smith answers.
a) She reports Alan's remarks to her husband while the conversation is still going on.
A: I'm phoning from the station.
B: He says he's phoning from the station.
b) This time, Betty reports the conversation later. B: He said he was phoning from the station.
1. I've just arrived. 2. The train was late. 3. The station is packed with football fans from my home town. 4. I can hardly hear you: they are making such a noise. 5. I'll try to get a taxi. 6. But this may take some time as all the football fans want taxis too.
7. 1 may have to leave my luggage in the station and get a bus.
8. I hope to be with you in about an hour. 9. I have a French girl with me called Marie Celeste. 10. Her brother asked me to look after her. 11. We're waiting for her friends but I don't see any sign of them. 12. If they don't turn up I'll have to bring Marie with me. 13. I hope you won't mind. 14. I'm sure you'll like her. 15. She is the most charming girl I have ever met. 16. I'm going to try to get her a job in my college. 17. It's very good of you to put me up. 18. I'm afraid I can only stay three days. 19. I'm looking forward to seeing you again very much. 20. I've got lots of messages for you from my family.
1. Listen to the conversations and answer the questions:
1. Reporter: Have you just made a new film, Miss Marsh? Miss Marsh: Yes, I have. Reporter: Are you going to make another? . Miss Marsh: No, I'm not. I'm going to retire. I feel very tired. I don't want to make another film for a long time. Kate: Let's buy a newspaper, Millie. Listen to this: "Ka-
ren Marsh: Sensational News! by our reporter, Alan Jones. Miss Karen Marsh arrived at London airport today. She was wearing a blue dress and a mink coat. She told me she had just made a new film. She said she was not going to make another. She said she was going to retire. She told reporters she felt very tired and didn't want to make another film for a long time." Millie: Well, fancy that, Kate!
Questions: Has Miss Marsh just made a new film? What is Miss Marsh going to do? Why doesn't Miss Marsh want to make another film? Who bought a newspaper? Where did Miss Marsh arrive? What was Miss Marsh wearing? What did the reporter write about Miss Marsh?
2. Reporter: Are you really going to retire, Miss Marsh? ' .'* i Miss Marsh: I may. I can't make up my mind. I shall have to ask my future husband. He won't let me make another film.
Reporter: Your future husband, Miss Marsh? Miss Marsh: Yes. Let me introduce him to you. His name is
Carlos. We shall get married next week
Kate: Look, Millie! Here's another report about Miss
Listen: "Karen Marsh: The Latest. At her London Hotel today Miss Marsh told reporters she might retire. She said she couldn't make up her mind. She said she would have to ask her future husband. She said her future husband would not let her make another film. Then she introduced us to Carlos and told us they would get married next week."
Millie: That's sensational news, isn't it, Kate?
Kate: It certainly is. He'll be her sixth husband!
Questions: Is Miss Marsh really going to retire, or is she still not sure? She can't make up her mind, can she? What is the name of her future husband? When will they get married? Did Miss Marsh introduce Carlos to the reporters? How did the reporter describe the news?
Elton Kash, pop star "I'm not
I'm on my way to the
I'm going to record another album.
I've written ten new songs. I like recording in
Stanley Walsh, ex-footballer "I don't like reporters. They've written a lot of lies about me.
They destroyed my marriage. I've got a new career. I'm
tired of football. I'll never play
///. Listen to the texts and do some exercises on the texts:
Julia and Jim, her boyfriend, are outside a restaurant. Julia wants to know something before they go in.
"Are you sure it's a good restaurant?"
"Oh, yes!" Jim is saying. "I've been here before. It's very good. I know the owner and I always get good service."
1. Where are Julia and Jim?
2. Correct the statements:
a) Jim says it is a bad place.
b) He says he has never been here before.
c) He says he does not know anyone.
d) He says he never gets good service.
Jim and Julia have been in the restaurant for an hour and they still have not been served. Julia is angry. "You said this was a good place!" she is saying. "You said that you had been here before! You said you knew the owner and always got good service!"
1. Where are Julia and Jim?
2. Ask "How long...?" and answer.
3. Why is Julia angry?
4. What did Jim say before they came?
a) good place b) before
c) the owner d) good service
It is lucky Julia takes the same bus every morning and knows the conductor. This is their conversation this morning:
"I'm sorry. I've left my money at home."
"It doesn't matter. You can pay tomorrow." Unfortunately an inspector is going to get on the bus at the next stop.
1. Why is it lucky she knows the conductor? 2. What are her exact words? 3. What are the conductor's exact words? 4. What is going to happen at the next stop?
The inspector got on a minute ago and he wants to see everyone's ticket. Julia is explaining why she has not got one.
"I told the conductor I had left my money at home. He told me it did not matter and that I could pay tomorrow." 1. What does the inspector want to do' 2. What is Julia doing? 3. What did she tell the conductor? 4. What did he tell her?
Tom is going into town and Susan wants him to do something for her there.
"It's my mother's birthday tomorrow. Will you get her some flowers in town? She loves roses."
Tom is saying: "Don't worry. I'll get her some. I won't forget." 1. What does Susan want Tom to do? 2. Ask why! (and answer) 3. Ask and answer these questions! a) When/birthday b) What sort of flowers 4. What is Tom saying?
Tom has come back from town but he has forgotten to get the roses. Susan is very upset.
"I told you it was my mother's birthday tomorrow and that she loved roses. You said you would get her some' You said you wouldn't forget!"
1. Ask why Susan is upset! (and answer) 2. What did she tell him? 3. What did he say?
/. Use the proper tense forms.
When I (ring up) my friend he (prepare) for his trip. He (say) that he (pack) everything but he (not, buy) a ticket yet. I (promise) him that I (help) him. I (be free) and I (can) go to the booking-office. He (thank) me and (add) that he (be grateful) to me. At 3 o'clock I (bring) his ticket and my friend (start) for the railway station.
Mrs Hudson (be) about 40 when she (begin) to feel pains in the heart. She (go) to the doctor and (tell) him that she (not, feel) well for the last two months. The doctor (ask) her if she (have) a lot of work about the house. She (say) she (have) a large family - 2 sons and 3 daughters to look after. Her husband (die) two years before. Her younger son, Mike, (fall) ill the previous week and she (be afraid) he (not, get well) soon. Her elder son, Earnest, (join) the army some days before. The doctor (advise) Mrs Hudson not to work so hard. He said she must take care of herself because her heart (be) really weak. She said it (not, be) easy but she (do) her best.
One day an old lady (happen) to be passing by a lunatic asylum. Seeing one of the lunatics she (stop) to talk to him. After they (talk) for some time the old lady (observe) that she (not, think) he (be) mad at all. The man (assure) that he certainly (not, be). He (say) that his relatives (send) him there just to get rid of him. The old lady (promise) that she (look) into the matter and (go) down the road. Suddenly a big piece of wood (hit) her in the back of her neck. She (turn) round and (see) the lunatic waving at her, so she (ask) what (be wrong). Nothing, he said, he merely (want) to remind her.
John Robinson just (return) home from the Continent
and (have) a rest at his home in the suburbs of
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