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Reporting verbs

 
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    Reporting verbs

    When we want to tell someone else what somebody has told us, we often use reporting verbs, it is common for users of English to use say, tell and ask for questions to explain the direct speech (what somebody originally said). When we want to give more information about the direct speech we use reporting verbs. Reporting verbs explain how the speaker of direct speech was feeling or the function of the information they give to you. One of the issues that learners have with reporting verbs is that the actual meaning of the reporting verb is very important as it contains a lot of information so the user of reporting verbs must know what they mean. Another problem for learners is the form of sentences after the reporting verb is different depending on the reporting verb that has been chosen. Here we will look at three of the main patterns.

     

    Reporting verbs: offer, promise, refuse

    Form of reporting sentences using offer, promise or refuse:

     

    Subject + reporting verb (not) + to infinitive

     

    Direct speech

    Reporting sentence

    Explanation

    Could we carry your bags for you?' [an offer]

    They offered to carry my bags for me

     

    When we use the reporting verb offer, theto infinitive' form of the verb from the direct speech is used regardless of the form of the verb in the direct speech sentence. In this case carry becomes to carry.

    I promise I will buy you something nice when I get back' [a promise]

    He promised to buy me something nice when he got back

    Often with reporting verbs it important to think about how the tense of the direct speech needs to be changed (or not changed). In this sentence, will buy becomes to buy in reported speech

    I cannot and will not go to restaurant again' [a refusal]

    She refused to go to that restaurant again

     

    One of the purposes of reported speech is to save time when we tell someone what someone else said. In this example, the speaker has expressed more information by using the reporting verb refuse

     

     

    Reporting verbs: suggest and recommend

    Form of reporting sentences using suggest and recommend:

     

    Subject + reporting verb (not) + -ing verb

     

    Direct speech

    Reporting sentence

    Explanation

    Why don't we go for a walk?' [a suggestion]

    He suggested going for a walk

     

    The direct speech is altered here by turning a verb into a gerund (go=going) as the speaker reports a suggestion that was made

    We don't think the cinema is a good idea' [a suggestion]

    We suggested not going to the cinema

    Again, a suggestion has been made and is being reported. Because the suggestion was negative, the wordnot' goes in between the reported verb and the gerund

    You really should watch all the videos I've sent you' [a recommendation]

     

    He recommended watching all the videos he had sent me

     

    As with the reporting verb suggest, recommend is followed by a gerund so here the direct speech is changed and the tense from the direct speech sentence is also changed (from present perfect to past perfect)

     

     

    Reporting verbs: explain, promise and suggest

    Form of reporting sentences using explain, promise and suggest:

     

    Subject + reporting verb + (that) + object + clause

     

    Direct speech

    Reporting sentence

    Explanation

    We can't accept your credit card here' [an explanation]

    They explained that they couldn't accept my credit card there

     

    With this kind of reporting verb pattern, an object must be used after the reporting verb or that although that can be removed from reported speech sentences like this

     

    I will definitely do all the washing up [a promise]

    He promised that he would do all the washing up

    Why don't we all go to the pub?” [a suggestion]

     

    He suggested that we go to the pub

     

     

     

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