Reported speech 1

Reported speech is when one person reports what another person said e.g.

Agnieszka: „Często pracuję w Warszawie.”

Reported speech: Agnieszka powiedziała, że często pracuje w Warszawie.

When we report speech in English, we move the tense of the verb back in time to show that the words were spoken in the past. For example, the Present Simple moves back in time to the Past Simple.

Present Simple -> Past Simple

„Często pracuję w Warszawie.”

„I often work in Warsaw.”

Agnieszka powiedziała, że często pracuje w Warszawie.

Agnieszka said (that) she often worked in Warsaw.

Note that in English we don’t have to use the word that, like you do in Polish.

When we report something said in the present simple we don’t always have to move the tense back to the past simple. We can leave the verb in the present simple to show that you know the fact is definitely still true at the moment you report it.

Agnieszka said she often works in Warsaw. (I know she definitely still often works in Warsaw now)

It is important to show the difference because what the person said in the past might not be true now. It depends on how long ago you spoke to them and when you report what they said. You can show the same difference in Polish.

W zeszłym roku rozmawiałem z Agnieszką i powiedziała, że (wtedy) pracowała często w Warszawie.

I spoke to Agnieszka last year and she said she often worked in Warsaw.

Wczoraj rozmawiałem z Agnieszką i powiedziała, że (teraz) pracuje często w Warszawie.

I spoke to Agnieszka yesterday and she said she often works in Warsaw.

Remember that in English we think about ‚is this thing true now’ when we use reported speech. In Polish you normally just focus on what the person said. This difference means that the tenses we use in English are sometimes different to the tenses you use in Polish. For example:

Właśnie zadzwoniłem do Agnieszki, ale powiedziała, że jest w pracy i nie ma czasu gadać.

I just called Agnieszka, but she said she is at work and doesn’t have time to chat. (She’s probably still at work now – present tense)

Wczoraj zadzwoniłem do Agnieszki, ale powiedziała, że jest w pracy i nie ma czasu gadać.

I called Agnieszka yesterday, but she said she was at work and didn’t have time to chat. (I don’t know if she’s at work now – past tense)

Next: Reported speech 2