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When reporting a statement written in the past tense, much like we did with the present tense we need to take a step back.

Which tense describes the past before the past? That’s right – past perfect.

So, original statements in simple past or past continuous should be reported in past perfect or past perfect continuous. See the table below for a summary of this.

Examples:

Original Statement: “I went to the park last Friday.”

Reported statement: “She told me she had gone to the park the Friday before.”

Original Statement: “I’m sorry I didn’t see you last week! I was working all day every day, trying to finish my dissertation.”

Reported statement: “He said that he was sorry he hadn’t seen me the week before and that he had been working all day every day to try and finish his dissertation.”

As before, there are also some changes that we need to make to time expressions. See the table below for some commonly used past time expressions and how to report them:

Activity

Now that you know some of the basics of reporting speech, try applying it to something in real life. 

Do you keep a diary? Take a look back at a random page in your diary and then imagine reporting to someone else what you wrote (said) about what you did that day.

Not a big diary-keeper? How about looking at a postcard a friend or family member sent you and reporting what they said about their holiday? 

Write down what was said, practising using sequence of tenses. Allow yourself 20-30 minutes to do this.

Then, when you’re ready, you can book a one-to-one lesson to practise these skills with a teacher.