Reported speech Episode:
„My mama always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” – Forrest Gump
In this episode, I am going to tell you a beautiful story about a simple-minded man called Forrest Gump. He grows up in Alabama with his “momma” and his best friend, a beautiful girl called Jenny. One of my best friends said that this was his favourite movie and to be honest I really like it too. So I immediately answered yes when he asked me if I wanted to watch it again.
Forrest always says to people how his mother taught the way of life, for example: “Momma always said dying was a part of life” or “My mama always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get”.
This simple guy inspires us with his giant heart and childlike optimism and he teaches us the meaning of love, friendship and how to cherish life.
Forrest faces numerous extraordinary situations and meets many famous people during his life, including musicians, businessmen and even U.S. presidents. With these, he becomes a part of the history of the 20th century.
Let’s see some of those events:
After college, he joins the army where he meets Bubba and they become best friends. He always talked about shrimp fishing and how he is going to continue his family’s heritage. One day he asked Forrest if he would like to come to the shrimp business.
Their military leader, Lieutenant Dan also becomes his friend and Forrest tries to save both of them during a Vietnamese ambush. Unfortunately, Bubba dies in his arms while Lieutenant Dan loses his legs, and he tells Forrest that he want to die there too. Then he ordered Forrest to leave him there but he didn’t.
On another occasion – after the war- he visited the white house “again” with the ping pong team and met with President Nixon who asked him where he was staying and offered him a much better hotel.
A while later he goes to Bubba’s family because he promised him that he will start a shrimp fishing company and he asked them where he could buy a shrimping boat.
Running is also a part of his life. When he was young, he wore braces on his feet but when the bullies from school were chasing him Jenny told him to run and so he did… He ran in college and he ran in Vietnam just like Jenny told him to.
Later, when he was a grown-up, he started to run again without any particular reason… He had run for 3 years, 2 months, 14 days and 16 hours then he stopped and said he was pretty tired and he would go home.
Forrest was in love with Jenny from the beginning. They had a very strange relationship because Jenny had serious problems in her life. Once she asked Forrest to stay away from her and the next time she asked him to marry her. (She asked Forrest if he would marry her. – also good)
It turns out at the end that Jenny is really sick and she says she has a son from him.
“And that’s all I have to say about that”…
When do we use reported speech? Sometimes someone says a sentence and later, maybe we want to tell someone else what the first person said.
We use a ‘reporting verb’ like ’say’ or ’tell + object’. If this verb is in the present tense, it’s easy, we just put ‘she/he says’ or ’she/he told me’ (etc…) and then the sentence:
- Direct speech: (Lt. Dan) I want to die here, Forrest.
- Reported speech: he tells Forrest that he wants to die there.
- Direct speech: (Jenny) I have a son from you.
- Reported speech: she says she has a son from him.
We don’t need to change the tense, though probably we do need to change the ‘person’ from ‘I’ to ‘he’, as you can see in the example. We also may need to change words like ‘my’ and ‘your’; ‘here’ and ‘now’ etc.
If the reporting verb is in the past tense, then usually we change the tenses in the reported speech:
- Direct speech: (one of my best friends): – This is my favourite movie.
- Reported speech: One of my best friends said that this was his favourite movie.
- Direct speech: (Mrs. Gump) – Dying is a part of life.
- Reported speech: Momma always said dying was a part of life.
- Direct speech: (Mrs. Gump) – Life is like a box of chocolates.
- Reported speech: My mama always said life was like a box of chocolates.
- Direct speech: (Forrest stops) – I’m pretty tired… I think I’ll go home.
- Reported speech: He stopped and said he was pretty tired and he would go home.
Here is a table how do we do the backshift:
|Tense||Direct Speech||Reported Speech|
|present simple||„I want to go home”||He said (that) he wanted to go home.|
|present continuous||„I am running”||He said (that) he was running.|
|past simple||„ I wanted to go home”||He said (that) he wanted to go home OR He said he had wanted to go home.|
|past continuous||„I was running”||He said (that) he had been running.|
|present perfect||„I have found my keys”||He said (that) he had found his keys.|
|past perfect*||„He hadn’t slept well”||He said (that) he hadn’t slept well.|
|will/shall||„I will go home”||He said (that) he would go home.|
|would*||„I would go home”||He said (that) he would go home.|
|can||„I can speak fluent Japanese”||He said (that) he could speak fluent Japanese.|
|could*||„I could speak fluent Japanese when I was 6”||He said (that) he could speak fluent Japanese when he was 6.|
|should*||„I should go home”||He said (that) he should go home.|
|might*||„I might be late”||He said (that) he might be late.|
|must||„I must study at the weekend”||He said (that) he must study at the weekend OR he said he had to study at the weekend|
* doesn’t change.
Occasionally, we don’t need to change the present tense into the past if the information in direct speech is still true (but this is only for things which are general facts, and even then usually we like to change the tense):
- Direct speech: „Budapest is the capital of Hungary”
- Reported speech: She said (that) Budapest is/was the capital of Hungary.
The tense changes are the same, and we keep the question word. The very important thing though is that, once we tell the question to someone else, it isn’t a question anymore. So we need to change the grammar to a normal positive sentence.
Reported WH- questions:
- Direct speech: “Where are you staying?”
- Reported speech: He asked him where he was staying.
- Direct speech: “Where can I buy a shrimping boat?”
- Reported speech: He asked them where he could buy a shrimping boat.
Reported Yes/No questions:
- Direct speech: “Do you want to watch it again?”
- Reported speech: He asked me if/whether I wanted to watch it again.
- Direct speech: “Would you like to come the shrimp business?”
- Reported speech: He asked Forrest if/whether he would like to come to the shrimp business.
- Direct speech: “Will you marry me?”
- Reported speech: she asked Forrest if/whether he would marry her.* (see also in requests)
What if someone asks you to do something (in a polite way)? For example:
- Direct speech: „Stay here, please”
- Or: “Could you stay here please?”
- Or: “Would you mind staying here please?”
All of these requests mean the same thing, so we don’t need to report every word when we tell another person about it. We simply use ‘ask me + to + infinitive’:
- Reported speech: She asked me to stay there.
- Direct speech: “Please stay away from me Forrest”
- Reported speech: She asked Forrest to stay away from her.
- Direct speech: “Would you marry me?”
- Reported speech: She asked him to marry her.* (see also in yes/no questions.)
- Direct speech: “Leave me here Gump! That’s an order!”
- Reported speech: He also ordered Forrest to leave him there.
- Direct speech: “Run Forrest! Run!
- Reported speech: Jenny told him to run.
THINGS TO NOTICE
Here’s a table of some possible conversions:
|Direct Speech||Reported Speech|
|today||that day, yesterday, Tuesday etc..|
|now||then, at that time|
|yesterday||the day before, the day before yesterday|
|… days ago||… days before|
|last week||the week before, the previous week|
|next year||the following year|
|tomorrow||the next day, tomorrow, the following day|
In reported statements, we can use either 'say' or 'tell'. The meaning is the same, but the grammar is different. With 'tell' we NEED the object (e.g. 'me', 'you', 'her'). With 'say' we CAN'T use the object (e.g. 'me', 'them', 'us'). - My mama always told me life was like a box of chocolates. - My mama always said life was like a box of chocolates.
VOCABULARY, PHRASES, COLLOCATIONS, IDIOMS, PHRASAL VERBS
A simple-minded person does not have the ability to use reason and understand.
You’re gonna get:
You are going to get (future: be + going to) VS gotta – have got to (duty, obligation – see in Tenses Season/ Future tenses episode).
In love with:
To be known or discovered finally and surprisingly.
In the end:
Finally, after something has been thought about or discussed a lot.
At the end of the day:
(idiom) – Similar to in the end.
At the end:
Most commonly used more literally, as a prepositional phrase followed by of, to refer to the end of a specific noun. e.g. At the end of the movie.