How to Use Reported Speech in French : Concordance des Temps

french grammar 101 how to use tenses in reported speech

To become proficient in French, you must know how and when to use the different verbal tenses. This applies to reported speech (or indirect speech) because you have to monitor the verb you’re using because it often changes to express that the speaker is talking about something that has happened.

Tenses used with reported speech

There are different tenses that can be used with a reported speech in french that you want to keep in mind when you’re using it because you might need to change a few things for you to use the verb correctly.

Since you’re expressing what someone else said in the past, and you’re not citing them word by word, you need to change the direct speech rules and keep in mind that some tenses change from one form of speech to the other.

Learn more about the Guide to Indirect and Direct Speech how and when to use them

Tense in Direct Speech Tense in Reported Speech
Présent Présent
Passé composé Imparfait
Imparfait Imparfait
Passé simple Plus-que-parfait
Futur simple Conditionnel présent
Conditionnel présent Conditionnel présent
Conditionnel passé Conditionnel passé








You need to keep in mind that while using Reported Speech, the verb in the past tense usually appears in the third person of the singular (il/elle) or plural (ils/elles).

How to use the indirect speech

Reported speech (or indirect speech) is used to quote or cite what someone else said without quoting them directly and because it’s used to express something that happened in the past, you need to be extra careful with the verb endings and the tense you’re using.

Here are a few examples of indirect speech with different tenses:

  • Présent:

Il dit qu’il est en train de manger.

He says he’s eating.

  • Imparfait:

Il a dit qu’il mangeait quand j’étais arrivé.

He said he was eating when I arrived.

  • Plus-que-parfait:

Il a dit qu’il avait fini quand j’étais arrivé.

He said he had finished when I got there.

  • Conditionnel présent:

Il a dit qu’il viendrait s’il avait le temps.

He said he would come if he had the time.

  • Conditionnel passé:

Il aurait dit qu’il serait venu s’il avait eu le temps.

He would have said he would have come if he had the time.

Ready to use different verbal tenses with Reported Speech

We hope that the examples, grammar tips, and definitions helped you understand and employ indirect speech correctly when quoting someone else’s actions that happened in the past. Remember that you have to keep an eye on the tense of the verb in the original statement, so you can choose the correct tense in the reported speech.

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