Reporting verbs

When using reported speech, most students learn to use “say” and “tell”:


  • John told me he was going to stay late at work.

  • Peter said he wanted to visit his parents that weekend.

These forms are perfectly correct for reporting what others have said. However, there are a number of other reporting verbs which can more accurately describe what someone has said. These verbs take a variety of structures. The following list gives you reporting verbs in various categories based on sentence structure. Notice that a number of verbs can take more than one form.


A) Verb + infinitive: agree, decide, offer, promise, refuse, threaten
• They agreed to meet on Friday.
• He refused to take his coat off.


B) Verb + object + infinitive: advise, encourage, invite, remind, warn
• Tom advised me to go home early.
• She reminded me to telephone my mother.


C) Verb + gerund: deny, recommend, suggest
• They recommended taking the bus.
• She suggested meeting a little earlier.


D) Verb + object + preposition (+ gerund): accuse, blame, congratulate
• He accused me of taking the money.
• They congratulated me on passing all my exams.


E) Verb + preposition + gerund: apologise, insist
• They apologised for not coming.
• He insisted on having dinner.


F) Verb + (that) + subject + verb: admit, agree, decide, deny, explain, insist, promise, recommend, suggest
• Sarah decided (that) the house needed cleaning.
• They recommended (that) we take the bus.


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