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We have seen that when the reporting verb is in the past tense, all present tenses inside the quotation marks will change into their corresponding past tenses in indirect speech. Study the example sentences given below.
Direct: She said, ‘I don’t want to come with you.’
Indirect: She said that she didn’t want to come with me.
Direct: He said, ‘I am writing a letter.’
Indirect: He said that he was writing a letter.
Direct: She said, ‘I have finished the work.’
Indirect: She said that she had finished the work.
Direct: He said, ‘I want some razors.’
Indirect: He said that he wanted some razors.
Direct: John said, ‘I have been living in this city for ten years.’
Indirect: John said that he had been living in that city for ten years.
Direct: He said, ‘I have been waiting here for several hours.’
Indirect: He said that he had been waiting there for several hours.
When the reporting verb is in the past tense, past tenses inside the quotation marks will change into their corresponding past tenses.
The simple past will change into the past perfect.
The past continuous will change into the past perfect continuous.
The past perfect and past perfect continuous tenses will remain unchanged.
Direct: He said, ‘Burglars broke into my house last night.’
Indirect: He said that burglars had broken into his house the previous night.
Direct: She said to me, ‘I was waiting for my sister.’
Indirect: She told me that she had been waiting for her sister.
Direct: She said, ‘I had never met such people before.’
Indirect: She said that she had never met such people before.
Direct: John said, ‘I had been gardening for two hours.’
Indirect: John said that he had been gardening for two hours.
Note that sometimes we do not change a simple past tense into past perfect tense in the indirect speech.
Direct: He said, ‘I lived many years in the US.’
Indirect: He said that he lived many years in the US. OR He said that he had lived many years in the US.
Note that the past perfect tense is used to lay stress on the completion of one past action before another past action.
When the reporting verb is in the past tense, shall will change into should in indirect speech. Similarly, will will change into would, can into could and may into might.
Direct: She said, ‘I will work hard.’
Indirect: She said that she would work hard.
Direct: He said, ‘They will be arriving here by the next train.’
Indirect: He said that they would be arriving there by the next train.
Direct: Alice said, ‘I will have finished the work by now.’
Indirect: Alice said that she would have finished the work by then.

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