How to use reporting verbs in English

Make your reported speech more sophisticated by using different reporting verbs in English...


We've been looking at ways to report somebody's words from direct speech into reported speech, but we can't just say 'he said, she said' all the time, because it sounds quite boring, it doesn't sound very sophisticated. However, there are lots of ways that we can report somebody's words. So in this video lesson we're going to look at reporting verbs. We're going to look at ways to make us sound a lot more sophisticated when we use reported speech. So when we do this we can show just how big our vocabulary is and how good our English is. In this video lesson we'll look at some example reporting verbs and we'll also look at how the structure changes when we use certain reporting verbs. Then at the end we'll do some practice to see how much you've learnt.

OK, here's the first example. Verb plus that plus the clause. For example: "It was me! I'm guilty!" So when we report this, we can say: He admits that he did it. However, with some other verbs, we can use the same structure: verb plus that plus the clause, but we can also use: verb plus the infinitive with 'to'. So, for example: "I will do it, I promise!" And when we report that, we could say: "He promises that he will do it" or we could say "He promises to do it". So with some verbs like promise, we can use either structure. They both mean the same thing.

Here's the next one. Verb plus that plus the clause with 'should', but 'should' can be dropped. So, for example: "I should be the one to do it". And when we report that, using the verb 'insist': He insists that he should do it. But in this example using 'should', you can also drop 'should', you don't need to use 'should'. He insists that he do it.

OK, next example: verb plus question word plus the clause. For example, "I'll tell you my plan". So, using the reporting verb 'explain': He explained what they could do.

Next example: verb plus object plus infinitive with 'to'. So, for example: "Would you mind doing this for me?" So, using the reporting verb 'ask': She asked me to do it. So in this case, 'me' is the object, and the infinitive with 'to' is 'to do it'.

OK, here's the last structure we're going to look at. Verb in the negative plus 'if' or 'whether' plus the clause. So, here's our example in direct speech. "Maybe it was me, maybe not!" So, you could report this as: He doesn't know if he did it, or He doesn't know whether he did it or not. 'If' and 'whether' are very similar. They're both used to report where the answer is either 'yes' or 'no'. But 'whether' means that there are two options: 'yes' or 'no'. So that's why the structure is 'whether or not'.

OK, let's practise that together. So I'm going to give you a few example sentences in direct speech and I want you to report those sentences using an appropriate reporting verb. I'll give you the reporting verb and I will give you the structure to remind you. It would be a good idea to get some paper so you can write down your sentences. This is a really good way to practise. And if you need more time, then just pause the video after each example.

OK, so that's it. There are lots of reporting verbs, many different reporting verbs and obviously there are different structures as we've seen in this video lesson for certain reporting verbs. I will put more examples of reporting verbs on so go to the website and check out those verbs for your reference. The best way to learn these reporting verbs is in context and through lots of practice. So do lots of listening and reading and you'll see lots of examples of these reporting verbs. As I said, if you use them it makes your English sound much more sophisticated!

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