He said, "I was sad"

In indirect speech, the past tense changes to the past perfect. What will be the past perfect form of “was sad”? Is it “had been sad”? But that is past perfect continuous, right?

  • "He said, 'I was sad' " in reported speech would be "He said that he had been said." Sep 8, 2019 at 4:12
  • 3
    No, "had been sad" is not the progressive aspect. If the original utterance was "I was sad", then indirect reported speech would normally be "He said (that) he had been sad". But if the original utterance was "I was sad before I met Lisa", then we could say that the perfect is redundant and simply say: "He said (that) he was sad before he met Lisa".
    – BillJ
    Sep 8, 2019 at 8:18

1 Answer 1


The past perfect continuous form is: Subject + had been + infinitive + ing.

For example: he had been learning.

Had been sad is past perfect.

The correct answers for the given sentences are:

He said, "I was sad."

  1. He said (that) he was sad.

  2. He said (that) he had been sad.

Both the answers are correct.

Raymond Murphy and Michael Swan in their grammar books say that the simple past in direct speech may be or may not be changed into past perfect for indirect speech.

  • 2
    Please do not use computer code markup here. Please end your sentences with terminal punctuation not just blank lines.
    – tchrist
    Sep 8, 2019 at 14:05

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