Reported speech: orders, requests & suggestions


1. When we want to report an order or request, we can use a verb like ‘tell’ with a to-clause.


  • He told me to go away.

The pattern is verb + indirect object + to-clause.

(The indirect object is the person spoken to.)

Other verbs used to report orders and requests in this way are: command, order, warn, ask, advise, invite, beg, teach, forbid.


  • a. The doctor said to me, “Stop smoking!”. —-> The doctor told me to stop smoking.
  • “Get out of the car!” said the policeman. —–> The policeman ordered him to get out of the car.
  • “Could you please be quiet,” she said. ——> She asked me to be quiet.
  • The man with the gun said to us, “Don’t move!” ——-> The man with the gun warned us not to move.

(See also section on Verbs followed by infinitive and Verbs followed by gerund)

2. Requests for objects are reported using the pattern ask + for + object:


  • “Can I have an apple?”, she asked. ——> She asked for an apple
  • “Can I have the newspaper, please?” ——-> He asked for the newspaper.
  • “May I have a glass of water?” he said. ——–> He asked for a glass of water.
  • “Sugar, please.” ——-> She asked for the sugar.
  • “Could I have three kilos of onions?” ——-> He asked for three kilos of onions.

3. Suggestions are usually reported with a that-clause. ‘That’ and ‘should’ are optional in these clauses:

  • She said: “Why don’t you get a mechanic to look at the car?” ——-> She suggested that I should get a mechanic to look at the car. OR She suggested I get a mechanic to look at the car.

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


  • “It would be a good idea to see the dentist”, said my mother. ——> My mother suggested I see the dentist.
  • The dentist said, “I think you should use a different toothbrush”. ——–> The dentist recommended that I should use a different toothbrush.
  • My manager said, “I think we should examine the budget carefully at this meeting.” ——-> My manager proposed that we examine the budget carefully at the meeting.
  • “Why don’t you sleep overnight at my house?” she said. ——–> She suggested that I sleep overnight at her house.


Suggest can also be followed by a gerund: I suggested postponing the visit to the dentist.

See also Summary of Reporting Verbs.