Reported Questions in English

We use reported questions to talk about questions that people have asked.

Are you ready to learn about reported questions?
Before you start with this topic, you are going to want to have a firm grasp on:
1.) direct questions
2.) reported statements, orders and requests
3.) Verb tenses

Let’s read the cartoon:

reported questions
Reported questions
Reported questions

Reported questions
Reported questions
Reported questions

Whoa! Beth is really angry! Why? Can you tell us what she said to Lucy? Give it a try!

How to Report Questions

It will be easier for you if you think of the process in four steps.

Let’s look at Lucy’s first question: “Are you angry with me?”

Step 1.) To report questions, we begin with a reporting clause. To begin, let’s use:
subject + asked + object:

Beth asked Lucy…

Step 2.) Can we answer the question with ‘yes’ or ‘no’? If we can, than we add ‘if’. If we can’t, then we repeat the question words (words like ‘what’, ‘where’ and ‘why’).


Step 3.) There are different ways to learn how to complete reported questions. The system we will use here is this: Write the general, affirmative answer to the question.

Are you angry with me? The answer would be: Yes, I am angry with you. So we say:

…I am angry with you.

Step 4.) Don’t forget to go back a tense, as you learned to do in Reported Statements, and change any pronouns and/or possessive adjectives that you need to change.

Let’s write everything we have so far:

Beth asked Lucy if I am angry with you.

We must go back one tense, from Present Simple to Past Simple.

Beth asked Lucy if I am was angry with you.

And we must change the pronouns:

Beth asked Lucy if I she am was angry with you her.

Continue with the cartoon. Notice how Lucy reports what she asked Beth.

Later that day, Lucy met her friend Steve…

Let’s look at the direct questions and the corresponding reported questions together. What changes do you notice in each one?

Direct Questions:

Are you angry with me?

What did I do wrong?

Do you have a crush on my boyfriend?

Are you planning to ask him out?

What is wrong with you?

Reported Questions:

I asked her if she was angry with me.

I asked her what I had done wrong.

She asked me if I had a crush on her boyfriend.

She asked me if I was planning to ask him out.

She asked me what was wrong with me.

In reported speech, we backshift the tense.

backshift reported speech

Your turn! Can you report the questions?