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When reporting something that was said in the past, we must use something called sequence of tenses. This involves changing the tense of the original statement. 

By using sequence of tenses we avoid just quoting what a person has said, and indicate that the speech we are reporting happened at a time in the past and that the action is completed or finished.

Let’s begin by taking a look at how to report the present tenses with Sequence of Tenses.

Original statement:

“I play football at this park as part of a local team. I enjoy it very much.” (Simple present)

Reported statement:

“She told me that she played football at that park for a local team and that she enjoyed it very much.” (Simple past)

Original statement:

I am working all day today.” (Present continuous)

Reported statement:

“She told me that she was working all day that day.” (Past continuous)

Notice also how the time expression changed from original to reported statement?

Let’s take a look at some common expressions of time and place in the present which change when reporting:


Think about a time you met someone for the first time. What did they tell you about themselves? Their hobbies? Their family? Their job? Hometown?

Imagine reporting this information to a friend later. Write down what you would say. Allow yourself 20 – 30 minutes to do this.

Why not practise doing this with an Intrepid English teacher? Click the button below to book a lesson and practise what you have learnt so far.