In reports and stories it is often necessary to tell the reader what someone has said. If the words are quoted exactly as spoken, it is direct speech. In writing this is shown by the use of punctuation. In reported speech the actual words are not quoted, but are usually summed up. For example: Both students and lecturers said that they felt that lectures gave an opportunity for personal contact. PC Clifford would have welcomed the tea, but said that he must get back to the scene of the tragedy.These two examples show two different forms of reported speech.Generalizing and summarizingIn (1) the writer has summed up what was said. Presumably a number of different people said different things, but all in all they agreed that lectures gave an opportunity for personal contact. Sometimes a writer summarizes even more briefly:He expressed his concern for the workforce and their families. Reporting the wordsIn example (2) the writer is clearly much closer to the actual words used. The police officer probably said something like, ‘I must get back to the scene of the tragedy’, although he may not have used those exact words. The extensive quotation of actual words is comparatively rare in reported speech; generalizing and summarizing are much more common.Verb tenseStories and reports are normally written using past tenses. This means that the words of reported speech should also be put in the past tense. If someone says, ‘I am going to work’, it is reported as He said that he was going to work. What happens is that each verb is shifted back in time:
and so on.Similarly time adverbials have to be changed:
|yesterday||the day before|
and so on.Personal pronouns, too, have to shift from first person to third:
and so on.So for example:‘At the moment I’m staying with a friend in Peckham,’ he said, ‘but next week I shall be moving into my own flat.’
becomesHe said that at the time he was staying with a friend in Peckham, but that the following week he would be moving into his own flat.