Reported speech – exceptional rules in imperative sentences

Exceptional rules.

Rule 1

 When the direct speech expresses a  ‘wish’,  it is to be reported differently from a normal imperative sentence, as explained below;

Let’s look the following sentences expressing wishes,

May God bless you

May the new year materialize your dreams

May the coming spring bring you wonderful days

Here we can see that  imperative sentences expressing wishes begin with the ‘modal’ auxiliary verb ‘May’.  And also we get a general pattern of the sentence as,

May + S + V + O   ( the pattern similar to auxiliary beginning interrogative sentence)

So to report it, follow the steps given below.

Step 1  

After the  reporting subject,  ‘wish that / wishes that’  or   ‘wished that’ or  ‘will/shall + wish that’  is to be written according to the tense form of the reporting verb.  ( reporting object should be written  as  the general pattern  ‘Wish + R.O + that’ )

Step 2

Then the pattern of the sentence is to be changed into statement form as  (S + V + O).

 Here,  S + may + V + O .

Step 3

Then the direct speech should be  reported  in the pattern   ‘S + might + V + O’


Eg: Teacher said to Jancy, “ May you get first rank in the exam”

( reporting verb ‘said’  is in simple past form)

Teacher wished Jancy that she might get first rank in the exam.

(she (S) + might + get( V ) + first rank ( O);  as the reporting verb ‘said’ is simple past, ‘wished that’ is written )


Mathew says to his brother, “ May you win the match”

( the reporting verb  ‘says’  is simple present)

Mathew wishes his brother that he might win the match.

( as the ‘reporting verb’ is  ‘simple present’  and the subject ‘Mathew’ is singular,  ‘wishes that’ is written)

Jacob will say to Mary, ” May victories come to your way”

( the reporting verb ‘will say’ is ‘simple future’)

Jacob will wish Mary that victories might come to her way

( as the ‘reporting verb’ is  ‘simple future’,  ‘will wish that’  is written)


Rule 2

When an imperative sentence begins with  ‘Let us’ ( let’s)  to show  a ‘suggestion’,

 eg:  Let’s play Cricket,

 It should be changed into the pattern of statement as   ‘We should( instead of let’s) +  V + O’ ,  after writing  ‘suggest/suggests that’  or  ‘suggested that’  or  ‘will/shall suggest that’  according to the tense form of the reporting verb.  ( reporting object should be written  as the general pattern  ‘suggest + R.O +  that’ )

And then it is to be reported according to  ‘the  persons’ of the ‘reporting object’ in the question.

If the ‘reporting object’ is ‘third person’,   then the ‘We’ in the pattern should be changed as third person  ‘They’, as shown in the example below,

 Martin says to ‘his friends’, “ Let’s  plan a tour programme”

( here the reporting object ‘his friends’ is ‘third person’ and  the reporting verb ‘says’  is simple present)

Martin suggests his friends that ‘they’’ should plan a tour programme

( ‘suggests that’ is written,   as the ‘reporting verb’ is  simple present;     the  ‘We’ in the pattern is changed into ‘third person’ subject  ‘they’ ,   as the  reporting object is ‘third person’)


If the ‘reporting object’ is first person ,  then the ‘We’ itself  should be written as the subject of the reported speech.

My friend said to me, “ Let’s pray for the victims of earthquakes”

(reporting object  ‘me’  is first person;   reporting verb  ‘said’ is simple past)

My friend suggested me that we should pray for the victims of earthquakes

( ‘suggested that’ is written,   as the reporting verb is simple past;   the first person ‘we’ is written,   as the reporting object ‘me’ is first person)

By Renjit P.S.

M.A. English. Online Tutor. Sixteen years in teaching field.

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