Direct and indirect speech: Reporting orders, requests and advice

To report orders, requests and suggestions, we normally use a reporting verb like tell with (object) + to infinitive.

  • „Be careful,“ I told him.
  • I told him to be careful.
  • „Go away,“ he said.
  • He told me to go away.
  • „Call the first witness,“ said the judge.
  • The judge ordered them to call the first witness.
  • She told him, „Please wait here till I return.“
  • She requested him to wait there till she returned.
  • „Stop smoking,“ the doctor said.
  • The doctor told me to stop smoking.
  • The stranger said to me, „Please help me.”
  • The stranger requested me to help him.
  • The clerk said to the officer, „Kindly grant me leave for two days.”
  • The clerk requested the officer to grant him leave for two days.
  • The teacher said to the students, „Work hard.”
  • The teacher advised the students to work hard.
  • I said to the child, „Do not look down into the well.”
  • I warned the child not to look down into the well.
  • The doctor said to the patient, „Please come in.”
  • The doctor allowed (or asked) the patient to come in.

Requests for objects are reported using the structure ask + for + object.

  • She asked, „Can I have an apple?“
  • She asked for an apple.
  • „Sugar, please,“ she said.
  • She asked for sugar.

Other verbs used in this way include: command, order, warn, ask, advise, invite, beg, teach and forbid.

Verbs that can be followed by object + to-infinitive include: advise, ask, beg, command, forbid, instruct, invite, teach, tell and warn.

Reporting Suggestions

Suggestions are normally reported with a that-clause. That and should are optional and can be left out.

  • „You should consult a doctor,“ she said.
  • She suggested that I should consult a doctor.
  • She suggested I consult a doctor.

Note that suggest cannot be followed by a to-infinitive. However, it can be followed by an -ing form.

  • My mother suggested seeing a dentist.

Other reporting verbs used this way are: insist, recommend, demand, request and propose.

  • The dentist said, „I think you should change your toothpaste.“
  • The dentist recommended that I should change my toothpaste.

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