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Reporting Commands


_____Basic Points_____ 

There is no backshift of tense with commands/request/offers/promises etc., in Reported Speech. You only have to change the person and shift expressions of time/place.

_____Reported Commands _____


·         affirmative commands → to + infinitive

·         negative commands → not + to + infinitive

1.1. Affirmative commands

·         Direct Speech → Mom: “Do the chores.”

·         Reported Speech → Mom told me to do the chores.

1.2. Negative commands

·         Direct Speech → Teacher: “Don't talk in the library.”

·         Reported Speech → The teacher told me not to talk in.

1.3. The introductory sentence in commands

The word tell in introductory sentences in Reported Commands can be substituted with other words, e.g.

·         advise

·         ask

There is no backshift of tenses, no matter which tense is used in the introductory sentence.

~ Direct Speech ~

·         Dad: “Do your homework.”

~ Reported Speech ~

·         Dad tells me to do my homework.

·         Dad told me to do my homework.

2. Suggestions

~ Direct Speech ~

·         Father: “Let's watch a film.”

~ Reported Speech ~

·         Father suggested watching a film.

·         Father suggested that they should watch a film

====Do not use the infinitive after suggest. Father suggested to watch a film.====



The following rules are observed when we report commands and requests.


Use a reporting verb like request, order, tell, advise, beseech, threaten, beg, implore, ask, propose and forbidNote that all of these verbs except propose must be followed by an object.

Commands and requests are usually reported using a to-infinitive. That-clauses can also be used. Note that after certain verbs, only to-infinitives are possible. In the same way, after some reporting verbs, only that-clauses are possible. You will also need to observe the rules for the change of tenses and pronouns.


Direct speech: Teacher said to him, ‘Obey your parents.’ 

Indirect speech: Teacher advised him to obey his parents. OR Teacher advised him that he should obey his parents. 

Direct speech: The teacher said to the boys, ‘Work hard.’ 

Indirect speech: The teacher advised the boys to work hard. 

Direct speech: Tina said to me, ‘Lend me some money, please.’ 

Indirect speech: Tina requested me to lend her some money.

Direct speech: The doctor said to the patient, ‘Do not consume alcohol.’ 

Indirect speech: The doctor advised the patient not to consume alcohol.

 Direct speech: The librarian said to the John, ‘Put that book back on the shelf when you have finished with it.’ 

Indirect speech: The librarian asked the John to put that book back on the shelf when he had finished with it.


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