English grammar – Reporting verbs

Form & meaning

Reporting verbs are used to report what someone said more accurately than using say & tell.

  1. verb + infinitive
    agree, decide, offer, promise, refuse, threaten
    • They agreed to meet on Friday.
    • He refused to take his coat off.
  2. verb + object + infinitive
    advise, encourage, invite, remind, warn
    • Tom advised me to go home early.
    • She reminded me to telephone my mother.
  3. verb + gerund
    deny, recommend, suggest
    • They recommended taking the bus.
    • She suggested meeting a little earlier.
  4. verb + object + preposition
    accuse, blame, congratulate
    • He accused me of taking the money.
    • They congratulated me on passing all my exams.
  5. verb + preposition + gerund
    apologise, insist
    • They apologised for not coming.
    • He insisted on having dinner.
  6. verb + 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.

Related grammar points

Reported Questions
Reported Speech
Say and Tell

1 teaching idea

  1. Begem Tonyali says:

    After having introduced the basic reporting verbs: ask, say and tell, I ask my students to write about 10 personal questions they will be able to ask me. Students love asking personal questions to their teachers! I put the questions on the board and then divide the class into 2 groups and make the first group leave and wait outside. Students from the first group take turns asking me their prepared questions and write down my answers.

    Now, they leave and the second group does the same thing. However, what they do not know is that I am honest with one group and give correct answers, but lie to the other. It’s a good idea not to tell them beforehand.

    When the second group is ready I ask the group outside to come in and tell the students to pair off as 1st and 2nd group partners.

    For example, one student says: “I asked the teacher how old she was and she told me she was 16.” Then the other student says: “I asked the same question, but she told me she was 36.” etc… until all the questions are reported.

    They have to pay attention to the usage of the reporting verbs and have fun finding out which group the teacher lied to!

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