Reported Speech: Orders, Requests, Advice

We can use reported speech to express orders, requests and advice.


An order is when somebody tells you to do something.

We can use ‘tell’ with infinitives to report orders:

  • Jim’s mum: Wash your hands! Dinner’s ready!
  • She told him to wash his hands.
  • Jim’s mum: Don’t touch that pan – it’s hot!
  • She told him not to touch the pan.

The structure here is:

tell + someone + (not) to do something

The most common verb for reporting an order is ‘tell‘, but we can also use other verbs such as: order, command, instruct:

  • The sergeant commanded his men to stand straight.
  • The manager instructed his team to follow the guidelines.

Note that the structure here is the same as with the verb ‘tell’.


A request is when somebody asks you to do something – usually politely. We can use ‘ask’ with infinitives to report requests:

  • Jim’s mum: Can you wash your hands? Dinner’s ready!
  • She asked him to wash his hands.
  • Jim’s mum: Don’t touch that pan – it’s hot!
  • She asked him not to touch the pan.

The structure here is:

ask + someone + (not) to do something

Requests for objects

When we want that somebody gives us something, we can ‘ask for‘ it:

  • Jim: Mum, can I have some bread?
  • Jim asked her for some bread.
  • Jim’s sister: Could I have a glass of water?
  • Jim’s sister asked for a glass of water.

The structure here is:

ask (someone) for + object

Let’s summarize these structures:

Other reporting verbs

We can also use a lot of other verbs in reported speech.
We can use the verbs ‘suggest’, ‘insist’, ‘recommend’, ‘demand’, ‘request‘, and ‘propose‘ to report advice and suggestions. Some of them follow the same pattern:

  • She ordered him to wash his hands.
  • She advised him to wash his hands.
  • She ordered him not to touch the pan.
  • She advised him not to touch the pan.

For example, we can transform the following direct speech sentences into reported speech:

  • Come on. Eat your vegetables. They’re good for you!
  • She persuaded him to eat his vegetables.
  • Remember to wash the dishes.
  • She reminded him to wash the dishes.
  • Don’t forget!
  • She warned him not to forget.

Sometimes the pattern is different:

  • OK, Mum. I’ll wash the dishes.
  • He promised to wash the dishes.
  • NOT: He promised her to wash the dishes.
  • Why don’t you watch TV?
  • He suggested (that) she should watch TV.
  • He suggested (that) she watch TV.

‘That’ and ‘should’ are optional in these clauses.

Note that ‘suggest‘, ‘recommend‘, and ‘propose‘ may also be followed by a gerund.

You can also say:

  • He suggested watching TV.
  • NOT: He suggested her to watch TV.
  • NOT: He suggested to watch TV.

Because we use the infinitive, there is no need to worry about tense. But as with reported statements and reported questions, we may need to change pronouns as well as time and place in reported requests.

Consider the example:

  • They said to the architect: “We’d like you to meet us here tomorrow.”
  • They asked the architect to meet them there the next day.

Watch this small video explaining how reported speech is used for orders and requests:

See also:

Reported Speech: Overview

Reported Speech: Tenses

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