Questions and Reported Speech

Rules for Reported Speech

Beware of being too dogmatic about this area. Some grammars say that certain rules must be followed, but the truth is that many different combinations of tenses are possible:

He said > he's coming / he'll come / he's going to come / he was coming.

On the whole, past tenses are used to report past events. Sometimes we report in the present things which are happening or are going to happen. From a classroom point of view it means we need to be very careful about giving rules.

Some exercises in the past asked students to turn direct speech into indirect speech.

For example:
1. "What are you doing?"
> He asked me what I was doing.

2. "I'm not doing that. It's too risky!"
> He refused to do it,

It is very unnatural to report what someone has said verbatim as in example 1. We usually report the whole event in our own words as in example 2.