Reported speech (Nepřímá řeč)


2 ways of quoting someone´s words:

  1. So he comes into a pub and says: “I´ll have a beer.“ = direct speech
  2. So he comes into a pub and says (that)he´ll have a beer. = indirect speech

A. If the reporting verb is in the PRESENT, FUTURE or PRESENT PERFECT, all the following tenses remain the same as in the original speaker´s verbs

B. If the reporting verb is in the PAST or PAST PERFECT, all the following tenses are backshifted = they go to the past  


  • Some “eternal truths” are not backshifted:
    • “The earth goes around the sun.” => Galileo proved that the earth goes (přít.čas!!!) around the sun.
  • In spoken English, if we report people saying things which are still true at the moment of reporting, we don´t have to use the backshift.
    • “ I am only twenty.“ => She told me the other day, that she is only twenty.
  • But, some speakers would prefer to use the backshift even here, however.

DIRECT SPEECH                                                 REPORTED SPEECH

“ I like apples.”                                                     He said, he liked apples.

“ I didn´t recognize you.“                                       He explained, he didn´t recognize me.

“ I haven´t recognized you.“                                                         -     II     -

“ I´ll be late.“                                                         He was afraid, he would be late.

“ You could be right.” -podm.zp. = stejné               He felt I could be right.

“ You must stop smoking. =permanent ban           The doctor said I must stop smoking.

“ I must leave.”                                                     She said she have to / must leave.

“ He must be her brother.”                                     She believed he must be her brother.


1st Conditional:

  • “When I see him, I´ll tell him.“ = He said that he would tell him when he saw him.


  • “If I had a screwdriver, I would repair it.” - ale nemám, takže smůla = nereálné, že by se to dalo ještě opravit
    • = He explained that if he had had a screwdriver, he could have repaired it.
  • “If you came tomorrow, we would discuss it. = a reference to a possible future - mohlo by se to ještě splnit, zítřek teprve bude, tak ještě může přijít, ale jisté to není


  • When I was walking home, I saw an accident.
    • (hl.věta - the main word is backshifted)
      • => He said that when he was walking home, he had seen an accident.


  • Yes / No questions are backshifted with “whether” / ‘if”:
    • Do you like hamburgers?
    • They asked me if / whether I liked hamburgers.
      • = There is no question word “do“ and no question mark.

Wh-questions are reported with the question word:

  • “What´s your name?“ - They wanted to know what my name was.
  • “What time is it?“ - She asked what time it was.
  • “Where do you live?”- They inquired where do we live.
    • “Can you tell me where the station is?”
    • = He wanted to know where the station was. - polite phrase”can you tell me” = reporting verb”want”


  • “Go away.”  - He told me / ordered me (+inf.) to go away.
  • “Please, help me.” She asked (požádala) me to help her.


  • “Hi, how are you.”  - He greeted me.
  • “What a beautiful coat.” - She praised my coat.

Words like:

  • yes, no, question tags, exclamations, interjections...are either left out or a paraphrase is used.


  • All references to places or times have to be changed because the point of view has changed:
  • “I like it here.” She said she liked it there.
  • “I like this town (+object).” He said he liked the town.-ne that -nemá význam jako this chair, that chair!!
  • × “We are meeting them this evening.” He claimed they were meeting them that evening.
    • today → that day
    • tomorrow → the next / following day
    • next week → the next / following week
    • yesterday → the previous day / the day before
    • a week ago → the week before
    • not yet → so far


  • “This / That is the last time.“ - He threatened it was the last time.
  • “The chair is over there.” - They told where the chair was.
  • “May I use your phone?“ - She asked if she could use our phone.