As with reported statements, the tense of the verb in the direct question often changes when it is turned to a reported question.
When the question is answerable by yes or no, use if.
Jennifer: “Do you have a reservation, Mr Thomas?” (direct questions)
Jennifer asked if he had a reservation (reported question)
When the question limits the answers by giving choices, use whether.
Simon: “Are you British or Australian?” (d. q.)
Simon asked whether she was British or Australian. (r. q.)
When the question is open to many answers, use the question word used in the direct question.
“What do you think of this plan?”
He asked me what I thought of the plan.
“Why did you choose our service?”
She asked why I chose their service.
Some modals also change when the direct question is turned to a reported question.
Will to Would:
Glenna asked me, “Where will you go?”
Glenna asked me where I would go.
Can to Could:
“Can you drop me off at the airport?”
She asked if I could drop her off at the airport.
May to Might:
“May I go with you? ” Sally asked Harold.
Sally asked Harold if she might go with him.
Must to Had to:
“Must you go?” Larry asked Bill.
Larry asked Bill if he had to go.
Deny and Admit
To deny means to say that something is not true.
"I did not leak information to our competitors".
He denied that he had leaked information to their competitors.
To admit means to say that something is true.
"I leaked information to our competitors".
He admitted that he had leaked information to their competitors.
To explain may mean to give the cause or reason for something.
To explain may also mean to clarify a topic or an idea further.
"He has trouble breathing because he has asthma".
The doctor explained that he had trouble breathing because he had asthma.
Agree and Insist
To agree means to go with somebody else’s idea.
To insist means to push one’s own idea on somebody else.
Promise and Threaten
To promise means to verbally commit to a certain course of action.
To threaten means to tell someone that you will do something undesirable to that person.
Remind and Warn
To remind means to help someone remember something important.
To warn means to let someone know that something bad will happen if a certain action is done or a certain event happens.
Assure means telling something positive to someone to remove any doubt, anxiety or hesitation.
Add means saying something more, a further remark.
Recommend means giving an advice or suggestion, usually a possible course of action.
Report means giving an explanation or a statement about something that has been seen, observed, or heard about by someone.
Suggest means expressing an idea to someone for his/her consideration.
Reported speech is used to talk about what someone said in the past. The tense of the verb in the direct quote often changes in reported speech.
Simple present to simple past
"You are late", the bos told him.
The boss told him he was late.
Simple past to past perfect
"The shipment arrived at noon", Mike said.
Mike said that the shipment had arrived at noon.
Present perfect to past perfect
"I have seen the samples already", she announced.
She announced that she had seen the samples already.
If the tense of the verb in the direct quote is in the past perfect, it remains in the past perfect tense in reported speech.
"I had decided to accept another job offer before you told me about my promotion", Elisabeth informed her manager.
Elisabeth informed her manager that she had decided to accept another job offer before he told her about her promotion.
L’enorme caravanserraglio della stazione di Howrah, dove il Mahatma era sbarcato venticinque anni prima, era rimasto un accampamento di profughi che requisivano le banchine, gli atri, le sale d’aspetto, i marciapiedi. Come la spartizione del 1947, la guerra del 1971 fra India e Pakistan aveva catapultato verso Calcutta milioni di persone che fuggivano il terrore e i massacri. Mi ritrovai in una corte dei miracoli dove alla livida luce del neon donne scheletriche spidocchiavano bambini con il ventre gonfio; ragazzini coperti di stracci frugavano nei rifiuti in cerca di qualcosa da mangiare; lebbrosi si trascinavano sulle tavole a rotelle scuotendo il piattino dell’elemosina; orde di cani rognosi dormivano acciambellati. E a fare da contrappunto, ecco scene di vita frenetica. Un’armata di coolies in giacca rossa trottorellava in ogni direzione, portando sulla testa piramidi di fagotti e di valigie; venditorei di betel, di frutta, di sigarette si insinuavano attraverso la folla; una fiumana di macchine e di taxi si faceva strada a colpi di clacson per depositare i passeggeri proprio davanti ai vagoni; interminabili code si spintonavano di fronte alle biglietterie. Ero come ubriacato da quello spettacolo e strordito dall’assordante cacofonia degli altoparlanti, delle urla, delle chiamate, dei fischi delle locomotive.
Ma un particolare strano mi sorprese. Perché nell’atrio della stazione c’erano tante bilance automatiche? E, davanti a ciascuna, gente tutta pelle e ossa che si accalcava? Perché spendevano venticinque preziosi paisa per sapere il peso del loro scheletro? Finii per scoprirlo. Sul rovescio dello scontrino c’era l’oroscopo del giorno. A Calcutta, solo le bilance automatiche osano promettere un karma migliore.
Fill (somebody) in on: to inform (or tell) somebody about something.
Deal with: to resolve a problem.
Screw up: to make a big mistake (informal).
Mess up: to make a big mistake (basic form).
Cover (something) up: to hide something.
Build up: to create and develop a business relationship.
Throw (something) away: to lose something important because of your actions.
Come about: to happen
Follow something up: to look into something further (or more)
Sort out: to organise something
Take away: get rid
A short vacation will help take your stress away
Take down: remove; disassemble
We took down the bulletin board and replaced it with a whiteboard.
Take off: remove
In Asia, you may be expected to take off your shoes before entering a house.
Take out: remove
Greg took out all the trash from the shredding machine.
To get something
Take back: reclaim something that was initially yours; to withdraw something you have said or offered.
If the product doesn’t work, just return it with the receipt, and you can take your money back.
Take in: understand; comprehend
I couldn’t take in what the speaker was saying, so I asked him to explain it further.
Take on: hire
The diner had to take on more waiters to handle the holiday crowd.
Take up: learn or start something new.
Even if I don’t like it, I will take up golf becaues it is good for business.
Take up with: associate with; spend much time with
Be careful not to take up with the wrong people when starting a business.
Take up (space): fill or occupy space
All these files are taking up the space on my desk; I can’t work anymore.
Put off: to postpone
Come up: to happen
Stand in: to act on behalf of, to replace
Get through: to discuss, to cover
Run through: to look at, to examine – quickly
Run over: last longer
Call off: to cancel
Run into: to experience something unexpectedly
Sort out: to solve, to clear up
Go back to: to return
Go ahead: to continue
Go on: to go forward
Take down: to write down, to record
Bring up: to introduce, to start to talk about
Taking over: to take control of something (i.e. new role)