Imagine a conversation between two people, Dennis and Susan. During the conversation, Dennis says to Susan:

The next day, Susan has a conversation with Claire and she talks about her conversation with Dennis. During the conversation she says:

This is called reported speech (or indirect speech). Susan is talking about, or “reporting”, what Dennis said before.

Look at the difference:

“I’m going to play football,” said Dennis. Direct speech
Dennis said that he was going to play football. Reported / Indirect speech

The most common reporting verb we use for reported speech is say, but there are others too.

Usually, the reporting verb is in the past:

He said that he was hungry.
Sheila told me that she had been on holiday.

“That” is optional, we don’t have to use it:

He said that he was hungry
He said he was hungry.



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