The salesman said, "You need to fill in this form before getting the exchange."

Convert this into reported speech

I am very confused if 'before getting...' will also be converted to past tense or not.

  • If you're doing it for a class exercise you should check with your teacher. Certainly, it's grammatical if you don't convert it to a past tense, but it's possible to rephrase it to be in the past tense, so it's really a matter between you and whoever is marking your assignment.
    – Stuart F
    Feb 27 at 9:37
  • It depends on how recently the conversation happened. If the person is still waiting to 'get the exchange', it can be left in the present tense. If you are describing an incident from some time ago, it would be possible to say "...they needed to fill in a form before they got the exchange". Feb 27 at 10:48
  • Actually, "before getting" isn't very good if the intended meaning is "in order to receive". before you can get would be more idiomatic.
    – TimR
    Feb 27 at 12:40
  • 2
    No. "Getting" has no tense here. Just leave it as is. If the salesman was addressing you in particular, then: The salesman said I would need to fill in this form before getting . . .
    – Billy Kerr
    Feb 27 at 13:09
  • @BillyKerr: I think "I needed" is closer to the original than "I would need". Your version is what I would suggest if the original version had been "You'll need to..." instead of "You need to..." True, the difference in meaning is negligible, but I think the OP is asking for guidance on the syntactic rules here.
    – TonyK
    Feb 27 at 15:31

2 Answers 2


The salesman said," You need to fill in this form before getting the exchange."

Assuming that you are the person the salesman spoke to:

The salesman said I needed to fill in that form before getting (before I could get) the exchange.

you need => I needed

this form => that form

Reported speech is a retelling of another person's statement from your perspective.

P.S. getting is untensed:

Yesterday, after getting my suit cleaned and pressed, it started to rain very heavily as I was walking to work.

Today, after getting drenched yesterday, I feel a cold coming on.

Tomorrow, after getting my suit cleaned and pressed yet again, I plan to take a cab, since it is supposed to rain again.

  • 1
    As a native speaker, I would tend to use "the form" instead of "that form". I don't know if it's technically correct, but "that form" sounds awkward to me. Feb 27 at 16:45
  • What sounds natural there comes down to the conversation one imagines as the context for reporting the salesman's words. When I went to make the exchange, the salesman handed me a form to fill out. -- Really? Why? Store policy, I suppose. He said I needed to fill out that form before I could get the exchange.
    – TimR
    Feb 27 at 17:08
  • 1
    [Salesman] "You need to fill out this form." [Me] :Not that form again!!!"
    – FreeMan
    Feb 27 at 17:47
  • 1
    @TimR Yes, that sounds more natural, although "the form" still works just as well in your example. And absent any context, "that form" definitely sounds strange. Feb 27 at 17:48
  • Your Yesterday example has a dangling modifier.
    – shoover
    Feb 27 at 20:38

The salesman told me to fill this form before getting the exchange

"to + verb" and "before + verb-ing" is not related to any tense. It is just some special case of how verbs work with the word before them.

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