Reporting Verbs

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Reported Speech

Enseñanza Integral de Inglés

Reporting verbs
Summary
The most important basic aspects of reported speech that you have to remember are:
changes in verb tenses
"I'm going home"  He said he was going home
changes in expressions of time
"I'm going home tomorrow"  He said he was going home the following day
changes in personal pronouns and possessive adjectives
"I'm going to my uncle's home tomorrow"  He said he was going to his uncle's home the following day

When you first learn reported speech these are the aspects you need to practise. The verbs you use,
therefore, are basic ones like say, tell, reply, and ask.
However, if you had to interview someone, for example, and then wrote about what the person said, it
would be very boring and repetitive if you used only these verbs.
There are a lot of other verbs you can use to describe or summarise what people say without repeating
the same thing over and over again. These verbs give us the meaning of the original words without
actually using them all.
The section below shows some of these 'reporting verbs' with their meanings and grammatical
structures. You can often use verbs you wouldn't normally associate with reported speech, but if they
describe the meaning of the original words then use them!

Some basic reporting verbs
The grammar structures I've shown with these verbs are not necessarily the only structures possible. I've tried to
show the ones I think are the most usual. The meaning of some verbs changes according to the structure used, so
I've only included structures that have the same meaning.
- ACCUSE

to accuse someone OF doing something
"It was you who ate my chocolate, Elvira, wasn't it?"

 He accused Elvira OF eating his chocolate.

- ADMIT

to admit doing something
"OK, it was me. I ate your chocolate"

to admit that...
 Elvira admitted eating the chocolate.
 Elvira admitted THAT she had eaten the chocolate

Prof. María Estela Medina
Universidad Nacional de Córdoba

Reported Speech

Enseñanza Integral de Inglés

- ADVISE

to advise someone to do something
"Well, if I were you I'd start saving for my retirement."  He advised me TO start saving for my retirement
- AGREE

to agree that...
"Yes, you're right, it's a terrible problem."  She agreed THAT it was a terrible problem.
- ANNOUNCE

to announce that...
"I'm afraid I've got some bad news. The company’s closing."  The manager announced THAT the company
was closing.
- APOLOGISE

to apologise (to someone) for doing something
"I'm sorry I didn't get to the meeting."  He apologised FOR not going to the meeting.
- ASK

to ask someone to do something
"It's very hot in here. Would you mind opening the window?"  She asked him TO open the window.
- BLAME

to blame someone for doing something
"We lost the match because you didn't save that penalty."  He blamed the goalkeeper FOR losing the match.
- COMPLAIN

to complain about something
"The electrician said he was coming at ten o'clock so I took time off work and waited in all morning...." 
She complained ABOUT the electrician.
- CONGRATULATE

to congratulate someone on doing something
"Well done! I knew you'd pass your driving test this time."  She congratulated him ON passing his driving
test.
- DENY

to deny doing something

to deny that...

"It most certainly wasn't me that left the front door open."  He denied leaving the front door open.
 He denied that he had left the front door open
- EXPLAIN

to explain why...

to explain that...

"Sorry I'm late. The traffic was bad and then I couldn't find a parking space."
 He explained why he was late.
 He explained that the traffic was bad.

Prof. María Estela Medina
Universidad Nacional de Córdoba

Reported Speech

Enseñanza Integral de Inglés

- FORGET

to forget to do something
"Oh no, I haven't got any money. I didn't go to the bank."  He forgot to go to the bank.

- INVITE
to invite someone to do something
"Would you like to come to our house for dinner on Friday?  He invited them TO come to dinner on Friday.

- OFFER
to offer to do something for someone
"Those bags must be heavy, John. Shall I take one?"  She offered TO carry a bag FOR him.
- PROMISE

to promise to do something
"Yes, honest, I'll be there on time. I won't be late."  He promised not TO be late.
- REFUSE

to refuse to do something
"Well I'm not washing up. I did it last time."  He refused TO do the washing-up.
-REMIND

to remind someone to do something
"Remember you have to go to the bank. You forgot yesterday."  She reminded me TO go to the bank.
-SUGGEST

to suggest that someone should do something
to suggest that someone do something
"Why don't you go to the dentist if your tooth hurts?"  She suggested that he should go to the dentist.
 She suggested that he went to the dentist.
-THREATEN

to threaten to do something
"If you're late again we'll start without you."  They threatened TO start without him.
-WARN

to warn someone about something
to warn someone (not) to do something
"Don't drive too quickly. The streets are very icy."  He warned him ABOUT the ice.
 He warned him not TO drive too quickly.

Prof. María Estela Medina
Universidad Nacional de Córdoba

Reported Speech

Enseñanza Integral de Inglés

A. Complete with the gerund or infinitive of the verb in brackets.
They advised me to buy a new car. (buy)
1. Jamie insisted on ……………………………… for the meal. (pay)
2. Lauren agreed ………………………………with him at the weekend. (go out)
3. I warned Jane ………………………………through the park at night. (not walk)
4. Jacob admitted ………………………………the woman's handbag. (steal)
5. The doctor advised Lily ………………………………coffee.(give up)
6. Our boss persuaded Megan ……………………………… the company. (not leave)
7. Freya accused me of ………………………………her pen. (take)
8. I apologized to Evie for ………………………………her birthday. (not remember)

Practice exercise transformation/gap fill format
B. Fill in the gaps using a reporting verb..

1. "It was your fault."
The cyclist ……………………… the bus driver for causing the accident.

2. "You caused it."
The cyclist ……………………… the bus driver of causing the accident.

3. ”You'll meet lots of people."
New students are always ……………………… to join social clubs when they first go to university.

4. "It's not true."
The politician ……………………… having an affair with his research assistant - they were just working late.
5.

"Why don't we go to Italy?"
I ………………………going to Italy for our holidays, but everyone else wanted to go to Portugal.

Prof. María Estela Medina
Universidad Nacional de Córdoba

Reported Speech

Enseñanza Integral de Inglés

6. "Well done!"
Students generally ……………………… each other on passing their exams.

7. "We're getting engaged."
Christine and Harry ……………………… at the party that they were getting engaged.

8. "You should see a solicitor."
The landlord of my neighbour's flat wanted to double the rent, so I ……………………… her to see a solicitor.

9. "You won't see him alive again."
The kidnapper ……………………… to kill their son if they informed the police.

10. ''OK, we’ll call off the strike''.
The union ……………………… to call off the strike if safety measures were introduced.

Call off = put off, cancel, postpone

C. Which verbs can be used in the following sentences? You need to think about the verb pattern and the
meaning. There may be more than one correct answer.
advise – apologise – warn – remind – suggest – invite – promise – offer – admit – deny –
accuse – recommend – tell – ask – agree - explain

1. He ………………………………. for not telephoning sooner.
2. She ……………………………… him to switch off the computer before he left the office.
3.

The sales assistant …………………………………. I upgrade my PC software.

4. The company was ……………………………. of charging customers too much for calls to land lines.
5. The manager …………………………….. to exchange my faulty digital camera for the latest model.
6. My brother ……………………………. taking my iPod without asking.
7. We were …………………………….. not to use our mobile phones in the library.
Prof. María Estela Medina
Universidad Nacional de Córdoba

Reported Speech

Enseñanza Integral de Inglés

8. She ……………………………… that she hadn’t installed the firewall correctly.
9. He …………………………………. her that mobile phones can be a health risk for children.
10. Parents were …………………………….. to see the new exhibition at the school.

Prof. María Estela Medina
Universidad Nacional de Córdoba

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