Orders and commands in reported speech

("Learn the new grammar till tomorrow!")

Nobody likes commands. That's why we complain about them so often. In order to to that, we must be able to repeat the command to somebody else.
Here is how to do that.

Even in reported speech, an imperative should sound like a command. So if in one of those inspiring Hollywood remakes of another one of America's glorious wars a commanding officer is barking

Now grab that gun and haul your ass over here or I will cut your...

the next scene will probably not show two privates in rocking chairs with one of them saying to the other:

I think he suggested that I should entertain the idea of...

No, when it comes to commands, you will probably prefer something more demanding like He asked ... (friendly and non-military style) or He told... (less friendly, still non-military style) or YES SIR... followed by the sound of boots at warp speed (military style).

Needless to say that the last example is useless for grammar and real life.

For the command on top of the page, this leads us to

She told...

This is followed by the the person who gets the command (object form) and the word to ...

She told me to ...

...followed by the verb (infinitive).

She told me to learn...

Then you add whatever other pieces of information the command might have to offer. If there is nothing, our sentence ends here. In our example we would have to complete it as follows:

She told me to learn the new grammar till the next day.

Now you have all the linguistic means to complain about your teachers and the impossible tasks they give you.

Note: If the verb is negated, the not stands right in front of the to in the reported speech sentence (cf. second example sentence below).


He told
She asked

(similar forms)


name or
personal pronoun
(object form)




verb (infinitive)

That's it. Learn it. (He told me to learn it.)


Clean your room. She asked me to clean my room.

Don't come home after midnight. He told me not to come home after midnight.

Work faster. He ordered Tom to work faster.

Jump back to the reported speech main article.