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Reporting speech verbs

How do you talk about what another person said to you? Well, it is not gossip. The formal name of that is reporting speech.

To do it, we use reporting verbs. The most common are say and tell  in their past forms: said and told. Most of the other verbs used in reported speech follow the pattern of these two. Let's see how they work:

Say pattern:

Usually, if we use say for direct speech, we don't mention the person being spoken. It is the same rule for the case of impersonal speech: 

  • Direct speech: "They are going to get married," William said.

  • Indirect speech: William said that you are getting married

Some verbs that follow the say pattern include advised, agreed, announced, claimed, complained, confirmed, declared, explained, insisted, mentioned, promised, proposed, suggestedand warned.

Tell pattern:

On the other hand, when we use tell we always have to use an indirect object. We must specify who said something.

You can employ the tell pattern with the following reporting verbs: Advised, assured, convinced, informed, notified, persuaded, promised, reassured, reminded, and warned.

  • Direct speech: "Everything is going to be okay," she told me.

  • Indirect speech: She told me that everything is going to be okay.

There are different ways to compose a sentence using a reporting verb: 

1. With a gerund 

In this case, the main verb of the sentence is conjugated with the gerund -ing

Some reporting verbs used with this type of conjugation include admitted, denied, mentioned, proposed, reportedand suggested.

Reporting verb with a gerund.

2. With an indirect object

In this case, the sentence specifies to whom what the other person said.

Sentence using a reporting verb with a indirect object.

3. With an infinitive verb

Reporting verbs used with this type of conjugation include agreed, asked, demanded, offered, promised, proposed, refused, threatened, advised, begged, encouraged, forbade, instructed, invited, reminded, told, and warned.

Reporting verb conjugated with an infinitive verb.

4. With an indirect object and an infinitive verb

Combining both forms, with an infinitive verb and an indirect object, you can employ the following structure:

Sentence using a reporting verb with a indirect object and an infinitive verb.

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