Reporting Verbs

This grammar lesson explains how to describe what someone has said using reporting verbs in English. The exercises for this topic are here. This topic is related to Gerunds and Infinitives and Reported Speech. These lessons are all part of a complete Upper-Intermediate English Course (B2).

What are Reporting Verbs?

Reporting verbs are words used to report or convey information that someone else has said or written. They are used to introduce quotes, paraphrases, or summaries of what someone else has said or written.

An illustration with an example of the change between direct speech and speech using reporting verbs. In the first picture a man is being interrogated by a detective. The caption says "direct speech: I stole the money" An arrow points to a second picture of a newspaper headline about a burglary. The caption reads "He confessed to stealing the money."

Reporting verbs can be used to convey different attitudes or opinions towards the information being reported. For example, some reporting verbs indicate a neutral or objective attitude towards the information, while others may indicate agreement or disagreement, doubt, or uncertainty. This topic is closely related to reported speech, as they both deal with describing what another person said.

Examples of reporting verbs include “say,” “tell,” “explain,” “suggest,” “argue,” “claim,” “assert,” “acknowledge,” “admit,” “deny,” “confirm,” “refute,” and “insist,” among others.

Using these verbs is an important skill to master, as it helps to accurately report and summarise information from different sources, such as articles, books, interviews, or conversations.

Reporting Verb Examples & Forms

Here are some examples of reporting verbs. They are in groups according to the verb patterns that we can use them with. Some of these verbs require an object (such as me, him, it or them) but others do not. Some are followed by a verb in the gerund (-ing form) and others by a verb in the infinitive (such as to be, to do, to go). There is more detail about verb forms in the lesson on Gerunds & Infinitives.

Verb + Infinitive (with “to”)Agree, Offer; Refuse, Promise, Threaten
Verb + Person + InfinitiveAdvise, ask, Convince, Encourage, Invite, Persuade, Remind, Tell, Warn
Verb + ____ingAccuse sb. of, Admit, Apologise for, Blame sb. for, Deny, Insist on, Recommend, Regret, Suggest

Verb + Infinitive

  • Agree: He agreed to pay the money.
  • Offer: They offered to clean up the mess.
  • Refuse: She refused to say anything else until her lawyer arrived.
  • Promise: They promised to work harder in the future.
  • Threaten: He threatened to call the police.

Verb + Object + Infinitive

These verbs can be followed by an object (usually a person) and then a verb in the infinitive form.

  • Advise: She advised him to take a break.
  • Allow: They allowed us to enter the building.
  • Encourage: He encouraged me to try something new.
  • Persuade: She persuaded him to go to the party.

Verb + Gerund

These reporting verbs are followed by a verb in the gerund (-ing) form.

  • Recommend: The doctor recommended taking a daily walk.
  • Suggest: She suggested meeting for coffee.

Verb + “that” Clause

These reporting verbs can be followed by a clause that starts with “that…”

  • Admit: He admitted that he had made a mistake.
  • Claim: The company claimed that their product was the best on the market.
  • Confirm: The report confirmed that the project was on schedule.
  • Deny: She denied that she had stolen the money.
  • Explain: He explained that the delay was due to technical issues.
  • Insist: The manager insisted that it was impossible to extend the deadline.
  • Mention: She mentioned that she had heard the news from a friend.
  • Report: The newspaper reported that the mayor had resigned.
  • State: The scientist stated that the results were inconclusive.

Verb (+ object) + “if” / “whether” Clause

You can follow these reporting verbs with a clause that starts with “if…” or “whether…”

  • Ask: She asked (me) if I wanted to join her for lunch.
  • Wonder: I wonder if they will be able to finish on time.

NOTE: You can use some reporting verbs in multiple forms, depending on the context and the speaker’s intention.


Check that you have understood this grammar with these interactive exercises.