Reporting another person's words in the past tense

Reminder: we use reported speech to report another person's words. When we use a reporting verb in the present or present perfect, we use the same tense featured in the original sentence.

Magda: «Trabajo trabajar, presente en el hotel» → Magda dice decir, presente que trabaja trabajar, presente en el hotel.

Magda: “I work in the hotel” Magda says that she works in the hotel.

When our reporting verb is in the simple past (dijo, pensó…), imperfect (decía, pensaba…) or past perfect (había dicho, había pensado…):

  • the original simple present verb changes to the imperfect.

«Trabajo trabajar, presente en el hotel» → Dijo/Decía/Había dicho que trabajaba trabajar, pret. imperf. en el hotel.

I work in the hotel” He said/He was saying/He had said that he worked in the hotel.

  • the original verb in the simple past or present perfect changes to the past perfect.

«Trabajé trabajar, pret. indefinido / He trabajado trabajar, pret. perf. en el hotel» → Dijo/Decía/Había dicho que había trabajado trabajar, pret. pluscuamperfecto en el hotel.

I worked/I've worked in the hotel” He said/He was saying/He had said that he had worked in the hotel.

  • the original verb in the future changes to the conditional.

«Trabajaré trabajar, futuro en el hotel» → Dijo/Decía/Había dicho que trabajaría trabajar, condicional en el hotel.

I will work in the hotel” She said/She was saying/She had said that she would work in the hotel.

  • the original verb in the present subjunctive changes to the imperfect subjunctive.

«Ojalá trabaje trabajar, subj. presente en el hotel» → Dijo/Decía/Había dicho que ojalá trabajara trabajar, subj. pret. imperf. en el hotel.

“I hope I work at the hotel” She said/She was saying/She had said that she hoped she might work at the hotel.

  • the original verb in the imperfect, past perfect, conditional or imperfect subjunctive does not change.

«Trabajaba trabajar, pret. imperf. en el hotel» → Dijo/Decía/Había dicho que trabajaba en el hotel.

“I worked at the hotel” He said/He was saying/He had said that he worked at the hotel.

«Nunca había trabajado trabajar, pret. pluscuamperfecto en el hotel» → Dijo/Decía/Había dicho que nunca había trabajado en el hotel.

I had never worked at the hotel” He said/He was saying/He had said that he had never worked at the hotel.

«Si pudiera, trabajaría trabajar, condicional en el hotel» → Dijo/Decía/Había dicho que, si pudiera, trabajaría en hotel.

“If I could, I would work at the hotel” →  He said/He was saying/He had said that if he could, he would work at the hotel.

«Ojalá trabajara trabajar, subj. pret. imperf. en el hotel» → Dijo/Decía/Había dicho que ojalá trabajara en el hotel.

“I wish I worked at the hotel” He said/He was saying/He had said that he wished he worked at the hotel.


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