Narrations with Modal Operators

Modal Operators are defined in the previous lessons. They are the operators which have only one or two forms. Remember, the basic rules for narration are same. All the Modal Operators, which have two forms, are converted into past tense whenever they are in Present Tense in the direct speech. It means that all the operators of the first form are converted into 2nd form.

Note: This conversion only takes place when Reported Speech is in past. Otherwise there is no such change. The modal operators are; may, can, must, should, ought to, have to etc.


  1. He said, “I can drive”
    He said that he could drive.

  2. He said, “We may do this”
    He said that they might do that.

  3. She said, “I may get the first position”
    She said that she might get the first position.

  4. He said, “I can run a shop”
    He said that he could run a shop.

  5. Teacher said, “You may attend my class”
    Teacher said that I might attend his class.

  6. Thomas said, “He can do something for me”
    Thomas said that he could do something for him.

  7. He said, “They may show a better performance this time.”
    He said that they might show a better performance that time.

  8. She said, “I can help you”
    She said that she could help me.

  9. He said to his friend, “You have to come early”
    He said to his friend that he had to come early.

  10. 10. She said, “He has to tell us the truth”
    She said that he had to tell them a truth.

The modal operators with only one present form are used as it is. There can be no change in them. Such modal operators are; must, ought to, should etc.

Some Examples

  • He said to him, “You must work hard”
    He said to him that he must work hard.

  • They said, “We must approach the high authority”
    They said that they must approach the high authority.