We use our own words to report what someone has said without using quotation marks. We change the tense, but not always, in the reported speech because the spoken words already occur in the past by the time we report them. We make other changes as well.


Direct speech Indirect speech
"Follow me," she told him. She told him to follow her.
"I am leaving my husband," she said. She said (that) she was leaving her husband.
He said, "Stop humming the national anthem." He told me to stop humming the national anthem.


The above table shows the past tense used in the indirect speech. In most cases, the tense used in indirect speech follows the tense of the reporting verb. As all the reporting verbs (told, said) are in the past tense, so the words in the indirect speech are also in the past tense. We repeat the pronouns (she, he) because no changes are required.