Changes of tenses , modals and be-forms in Reported speech


The  changes of tenses is happened mainly  on the basis of reporting verb ( the verb  in the reporting statement).

If the reporting verb is in simple past,    the tense form of  direct speech will be changed, while being transformed into indirect speech or reported speech.

Eg: Mathew said,” I have seen so many plays.”    (direct speech)

       Mathew said that he had seen so many plays. ( Indirect speech or reported speech)

 Here,   the reporting verb  ‘said’  is in  ‘simple past’ form.    So, the ‘present perfect’ ( have + seen) form of the reported  verb  is changed into  ‘past perfect’ form (had + seen) in the reported speech or indirect speech.

So,   if the  ‘reporting verb’  is in ‘ simple past’  form the  ‘tense forms’ of the  direct speech will be changed as shown below,  that is if the

     ‘Direct Speech’ is in                                   Reported speech’ will be in

Simple present tense                          ——>         Simple past tense                                           

S+ do/does + V+ O                                                    S+ did + V+ O

Eg: He works hard                                                     He worked hard

Simple past tense                                                  Past perfect tense

S + did + V + O                                                        S + had + V3 + O

Eg: He worked hard                                                 He had worked hard

Past perfect tense                                               past perfect tense

He had worked hard                                             He had worked hard

Present continuous tense                            Past  continuous tense

S + is/am/are + V+ing  + O                               S+ was/were + V+ing +O

Eg: Martin is playing Baseball                           Martin was playing Baseball

Past  continuous tense                                  Past perfect continuous tense

S + was/were + V+ing + O                               S + had + been + V+ing + O

Eg: Martin was playing Baseball                     Martin had been playing Baseball

Past perfect continuous tense                          Past perfect continuous tense

Eg: Martin had been playing Baseball                Martin had been playing Baseball

Present perfect tense                                          Past perfect tense

 S + has/have + V3 + O                                         S + had + V3 + O

Eg: They have given me a chance                      They had given me a chance

Present perfect continuous tense                     Past perfect continuous tense

S + has/have + been + V+ing + O                     S + had + been + V+ing + O

Eg: Mary has been writing the letter                 Mary had been writing the letter

II.  The changes of  modal auxiliaries  are shown as  below, if the reporting verb is in simple past.

Direct Speech                              Reported/indirect speech

Will                                                          would

Shall                                                       should

Can                                                         could

May                                                         might

Must                                                        had to


Eg: Thomas said, ” The function  will  be grand”

       Thomas said that the function  would  be grand

Here the modal auxiliary ‘will’ becomes ‘would’ in reported speech, as the reporting verb ‘said’ is in  ‘simple past’ form

III  Changes in Be-forms are shown below:

Direct speech      ————->    Indirect  or  Reported speech

is,am,are                                      was, were

was, were                                     had been

had been                                      had been

has been / have been                  had been

eg: Jacob pointed to Martin and said, ” He is my best friend”

      Jacob pointed to Martin and said that he was his best friend.

      Mathew said, ” I have been ill for a week”

      Mathew said that he had been ill for a week

     Tom said, ” Being a teacher was one of my childhood dreams”

     Tom said that being a teacher had been one of his childhood dreams

Yet,  there are some exceptional rules  in reported speech related to tenses and modal auxiliaries.continue reading

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