I have to transform the following sentence into indirect speech:

'I haven't got any money',he said

My transformation is :

He said he hadn't got any money.

The answer key only lists

He said he didn't have any money

as a correct answer, but my sentence seems correct to me. What do you think?

2 Answers 2


"He didn't have" and "He hadn't got" are semantically equivalent. In some dialects one will be preferred over the other, and it is not unusual for reported speech to shift from a less preferred phrase to a more preferred version. To some, this will seem to be making it more formal, but really it's about shifting it to what fits "better".

I don't know what dialect or views of formality your question book (or worksheet or whatever) is based on, but your answer is just as correct, taking English as a whole, as the one in the key.

Now, if we take English back in time a bit, the key's answer might be considered more correct in general. But as it stands now, the two are interchangeable.


"Haven't got" is informal spoken English, and "do not have" is the more formal way of saying the same thing, more suitable for written English, which possibly explains the test author's selection of "didn't have" for the indirect speech version. "Hadn't got" would be acceptable in informal indirect speech.

  • If we are going to be really formal there is nothing to choose between "...he hadn't got..." and '...he didn't have...'. If we are being really formal in written English we would not permit "didn't" for "did not" or "hadn't" for "had not". Since you are being asked to put into reported speech a sentence with "haven't got", you are quite right in transforming it with the verb he actually used. So "He said he hadn't got" is correct. When you are putting what somebody actually said into reported speech it is not your job to 'correct' their grammar: use the verbs they used.
    – JeremyC
    Commented Oct 20, 2018 at 21:25
  • If he said "I'm as broke as King Broke of Brokeland", it might, in circumstances I can easily imagine, be appropriate to report it as "he said that he did not have any money". Commented Oct 20, 2018 at 21:46
  • I agree that "didn't have" is only slightly more formal than "hadn't got". Commented Oct 20, 2018 at 21:47
  • Reported speech by Bertie Wooster's butler would no doubt have euphemised what Tuppy Glossop actually said to him about his financial state.
    – JeremyC
    Commented Oct 20, 2018 at 21:53

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