Skip to Content

Tense Changes When Using Reported Speech in English

Sharing is caring!

Learn details of English Grammar on Direct and Indirect Speech Tense Changes.

Tense Changes in Reported Speech

  • Present Simple -> Past Simple

“I want to watch a film”.

-> He said (that) he wanted to watch a film.

“Jane is sleeping.”

-> He said (that) Jane was sleeping.

  • Past Simple -> Past Perfect

Alex said, “I finished my homework.”

-> Alex said he had finished his homework.

  • Past Continuous -> Past Perfect Continuous

“I was sleeping at that time.”

-> She said that she had been sleeping at that time.

  • Present Perfect -> Past Perfect

“I have eaten already.”

-> She said that she had eaten already.

  • Will -> Would

She said, “I will always love Tom.”

-> She said that she would always love Tom.

  • Can -> Could

Tom said, “I can carry 50kg.”

-> Tom said he could carry 50kg.

  • Must -> Had to

“Everybody must obey the rules.”

-> She said everybody had to obey the rules.

  • Have to -> Had to

She said, “I have to go home.”

-> She said she had to go home.

Sometimes there are no tense changes in indirect speech if:

– When the reporting verb is in the present

Eg: Martha says she is arriving around ten.

– When the reported verb is in the past, but the reported words are “always true”

Eg: Harry told me he still likes you.

– When the message is being repeated immediately after it was said

Eg: Laura said she’s too busy to come.

Tense Changes in Reported Speech | Image

Tense Changes in Reported Speech

Tense Changes in Reported Speech

Tense Changes in Reported Speech


Gemechu chala

Monday 14th of August 2023

Write and explain by one 1⃣ but it's good

Khinwin Naing

Wednesday 6th of January 2021

Very good sharing knowledge. I love it

Mohammad Omid Niazi

Friday 1st of January 2021

Today this great website earned one more subscriber. Thank you very much from your great service.


Friday 13th of November 2020

that is why french or even russian is better to learn


Saturday 10th of October 2020