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reported speech
 

Reporting verbs

 
 
 

Grammatical form

subject + reporting verb + (that) + clause
She explained (that) she had been away at the time.

subject + reporting verb + direct object + (that) + clause
He assured me (that) there would be no delay

subject + reporting verb + infintive
She refused to work on Sundays.

subject + reporting verb + direct object + infintive
She reminded me to come to the meeting.
 
 

Use of reporting verbs

Reporting verbs are used in reported speech

The most common reporting verbs are say and tell. However, there are a number of other reporting verbs that can be used instead of say or tell to make more efficient (i.e. shorter) statements and questions.

Consider this original statement in direct speech:
'I'm sure that everything will be alright'

If we reported the statement with say, we would get :

He said that he was sure that everything would be alright

This is an acceptable statement in English, if rather long. However, the words I'm sure that... in this sentence can have the function of assuring someone. Therefore, we can use the reporting verb assure

He assured me that everything would be alright
This is a) shorter, and b) makes the function of the sentence absolutely clear.

 

Common reporting verbs - say pattern

The following common reporting verbs follow the same pattern as say
i.e. verb + (that) + clause :

admit
advise*
agree
announce
claim
complain
confirm
declare
explain
insist
mention
promise*
propose
say
suggest
warn*

* also used with other patterns - see below

 

Common reporting verbs - tell pattern

The following common verbs follow the same pattern as tell
i.e. verb + direct object + (that) + clause :

advise
assure
convince
inform
notify
persuade
promise
reassure
remind
tell
warn

 

Reporting actions : requests, promises etc

These are usually reported using an infintive structure :

reporting verb + infintive with to

Examples:
They argreed to pay the legal costs.
He promised to come as soons as possible.



Common reporting verbs that follow this pattern are :

agree
ask
claim
demand
offer
promise
propose
refuse
threaten



Some verbs can be followed by an object and infintive :

reporting verb + direct object + infintive with to


Examples:
He reminded me to call Kath.
She warned them not to mention it.


Common reporting verbs that follow this pattern are :

advise
ask
beg
convince
encourage
forbid
instruct
invite
order
persuade
remind
tell
urge
warn (not to)

 

Reporting verbs followed by a gerund

Some reporting verbs are followed by a gerund, not an infinitive :

Direct speech : 'Why don't we have the party at Peter's place?'
Reported speech : She suggested having the party at Peter's place.

Common reporting verbs that can be followed by a gerund are :

admit
deny
mention
proposed
report
suggest

NB All of these reporting verbs can also use a verb + that + clause structure (see above).

Compare :
He admitted that he had taken the money.
He admitted taking the money.

She proposed setting up a committee.
She proposed that we set up a committee.

He mentioned seeing Martin.
He mentioned that he had seen Martin


The sentences in each pair have the same meaning.



ESL quizzes for Reporting verbs
quiz
Reporting verbs quiz 1
12-question multiple-choice quiz
Reporting verbs quiz 2
MC quiz focusing on syntax with reporting verbs

ESL lesson plans

Politics and the US Election

Complete lesson Vocabulary: politics, elections; skills: political issues.
US Election ESL worksheet thumbnail 1 US Election ESL worksheet thumbnail 2 US Election ESL worksheet thumbnail 3 US Election ESL worksheet thumbnail 4
Download Politics and the US Election (PDF)
 

Gender discrimination at work

Complete lesson Vocabulary: work clothes; skills: gender discrimination; grammar: reported speech.
Gender descrimination ESL worksheet thumbnail 1 Gender descrimination ESL worksheet 2 thumbnail Gender descrimination ESL worksheet 3 thumbnail
Download Workplace gender discrimination (PDF)
 

English grammar notes

Comparison with as...as

Comprehensive grammar reference notes, illustrated.
Grammar notes on comparison with as..as thumbnail 1 Grammar notes on comparison with as..as thumbnail 2 Grammar notes on comparison with as..as thumbnail 3
Download English grammar notes: comparison with as...as (PDF)