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As for English grammar, there are common cases of time shifts when we talk about particular events that happened in the past. Sentence changes from the direct to indirect speech are examples of such as time shifts. We use a ‘reporting verb’ like ‘say’ or ‘tell’ in English direct speech. We know two types of changes, one of which should be applied in the sentence of the indirect speech:

  1. 1. If this ‘reporting verb’ is in the present tense.

It’s easy. We just put ‘she says’ or ‘she tells’ and then the sentence:

  • Direct speech:               I like ice cream.
  • Reported speech:         She says (that) she likes ice cream.

We don’t need to change the tense, though probably we do need to change the ‘person’ from ‘I’ to ‘she’, for example. We also may need to change words like ‘my’ and ‘your’.
As I’m sure you know, often, we can choose if we want to use ‘that’ or not in English. I’ve put it in brackets () to show that it’s optional. It’s exactly the same if you use ‘that’ or if you don’t use ‘that’.

  1. 2. But, if the ‘reporting verb’ is in the past tense (“said” or “told”), then usually we change the tenses in the reported speech:
  • Direct speech:           I like ice cream.
  • Reported speech:     She said (that) she liked ice cream.

You can find all time shifts in the following table:

English Grammar

          *Nezmení sa.                                                                             Grammar – Reported Speech

Occasionally, we don’t need to change the present tense into the past if the information in direct speech is still true, it is always a general truth (but this is only for things which are general facts, and even then usually we like to change the tense). The things, events are always the same. They work in the same way in the present, future and past:

  • Direct speech:                  The sky is blue.
  • Reported speech:            She said (that) the sky is/was blue.


Time and place must often change when going from direct to reported speech. You can find how this is applied in the following table:

English Grammar

  Phrases in Direct Speech



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