A man says, " May I drop you there in my car?"

Convert the above sentence to reported speech.

Is the following a correct attempt?

A man asked if he might drop somebody there in his car.

Not a native English speaker

  • 2
    First, you try. Then explain why you think your attempt is wrong. It would be helpful to know who is the man offering to give a lift to..
    – Mari-Lou A
    Mar 20 '19 at 6:53
  • 2
    Your attempt is not bad but you have modified the meaning, may and should are not synonymous. What is the "past" equivalent of "may"?
    – Mari-Lou A
    Mar 20 '19 at 7:05
  • 2
    So is it might?
    – Kaushik
    Mar 20 '19 at 7:06
  • 2
    It's nearly perfect. If no one posts an answer by tonight I will.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Mar 20 '19 at 7:14
  • 2
    As I see it, the only problem in the translation is that in the direct speech you has no gender. You are assuming that the person being dropped is a man. If the person being dropped is a woman, then the translation is incorrect. In other words, the version in indirect speech is introducing a variable that never existed. You need to replace him with something non-gender specific—such as somebody. Mar 20 '19 at 15:42

To transform direct speech into indirect (also called reported speech), the learner has to remember several things. First of all, remove the speech/quotation marks (also called inverted commas). Then…

   1. Change the pronouns

  • Fiona asked John, "Can I tell you a secret?"

  • Fiona asked John if she could tell him a secret.  

  2. backshift the verbs

  • Fiona asks John, "Can I tell you a secret?"

  • Fiona asked John if she could tell him a secret.

  3. Backshift a time reference if it is mentioned

  • "I have something important to tell you today", said Fiona.

  • Fiona said she had something important to tell him that day

   4. Use a reporting verb

The most common reporting verbs are say/said and tell/told but there are many others which the learner can use to add some variety

If the direct speech is a question, use the reporting verb ask.

If the direct speech has "would", we can use the reporting verb invite
e.g. a) "Would you like me to drop you there?" b) He invited to drop her/him/them there.

If the speaker uses the modals “can”, “may”, “shall/will”, we can use the reporting verb offer
e.g. a) “Can/May/Shall I help you?” b) She offered to help her/him/them/someone

If the object of the sentence is unknown, use the impersonal pronoun someone. But be careful, the pronoun "you" can either refer to the singular or plural. For example, I might be talking to one person, a couple or to a large group of people.

“Do you need help?” Marilou said.

Is Marilou talking to one person or to several?

Thus the OP's direct speech sentence

A man says, "May I drop you there in my car?"

can be changed into this

A man offered to drop someone there in his car

or the singular they and its equivalent pronoun object can be used instead

He said he might drop them there in his car

or even this

A man asked if he might drop that person there (e.g. at the station) in his car

  • Thanks a lot Mari-Lou A
    – Ardent
    Mar 22 '19 at 9:51
  • 1
    @Kaushik my pleasure, I hope the answer was still helpful to you.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Mar 22 '19 at 9:52

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