Unit 8.1

Changes of Tenses in Reported Speech

Introduction

Reported speech is when we want to report one person’s speech to another person but we don’t use the exact words because we focus on the message rather than the exact words.

While using reported speech, we shift the sentence’s tense back.

Form

In reported speech, the original time of the clause goes one tense back in time in the following way:

  • present simple → past simple;
  • past simple → present perfect;
  • present continuous → past continuous;
  • past continuous → past perfect continuous;
  • present perfect continuous → past pefect continuous;
  • present perfect → past perfect;
  • future → present conditional;
  • future continuous → conditional continuous.

Example

“We love street art “, they said. They said that they loved street art.
“I paid in cash”, he stated. He stated that he had paid in cash.
“Suzan is buying souvenir”, her husband said. Her husband said that Suzan was buying souvenir.
“I have been to my old neighbourhood a couple times”, she told me. She told me that she had been to her old neighbourhood a couple times.
“We have been studying for hours in the farm”, students stated. The students stated that they had been studying for hours in the farm.
“I was living in Spain as a paper collector”, Antonio told me. Antonio told me that he had been living in Spain as a paper collector.
“I will pay the electricity bill”, he said. He said that he would pay the electricity bill.
My father said, “You will be using the customer card 2 days later”. My father said that I would be using the card 2 days later.

Use

We use reported speech to convey the meaning of a conversation that took place in another time, turning the verb tenses into previous ones.

So, for example, when we report a speech that happened in the present we transform it in the past tense; while, if it already happened in the past, it is transformed in the past perfect

Summary

We use reported speech to convey the meaning of a conversation that took place in another time, turning the verb tenses into previous ones.

In reported speech, the original time of the clause goes one tense back in time:

  • present simple into past simple, present perfect, past perfect;
  • present continuous into past continuous and past perfect continuous;
  • present perfect continuous into past pefect continuous;
  • future into present conditional;
  • future continuous into conditional continuous.

For example:
— “I have been living in Paris my whole life”, Nina told me. ⇒ Nina told me (that) she had been living in Paris her whole life. = Present perfect continuous (have been living) becomes past perfect continuous (had been living).
— “I will go to the supermarket”, she said. ⇒  She said (that) she would go to the supermarket. = Future (will) becomes present conditional (would)

Let’s revise this content within the {Form} section. Take a look at the {Example} section that shows its use within a context.

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