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12. Direct speech and reported speech


1 Direct speech

Look at these examples of direct speech.

Trevor: I'm tired.

Wasn't it Greta Garbo who said, 'I want to be alone'?

'But 1 don't love you, Henry,' replied Ciaire.

We can show that words are direct speech by putting them in quotation marks (' '). Sometimes the words are put after the speaker's name, in the script of a play or film, for example. In a picture we can put the words in a speech bubble.

2 Reported speech

In reported speech we give the meaning of what was said rather than the exact words.

Trevor says he's tired.
Wasn't it Greta Garbo who said that she wanted to be alone?
Claire replied that she didn't love Henry.

The actress Melissa Livingstone and supermarket owner Ron Mason have announced that they are getting married next month. Melissa is sure they will be happy together, she told reporters.

In reported speech we often change the actual words, e.g. 'I'm tired' -> he's tired.
Sometimes the verb tense changes, e.g. I want -> she wanted.

In reporting we use verbs such as announce, answer, explain, mention, promise, reply, say, suggest, tell, warn. The most common of these are say and tell. We can also report thoughts.
We think the meal was expensive.
Nick knew Rita wanted to be with someone else.

When we report statements, we often use that, but we can sometimes leave it out.
You promised (that) you wouldn't be late.
Sarah was saying (that) there's a problem.

3 Tell or say?

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