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.