Direct and Indirect Speech with Rules and Examples

Types of Sentences in English
April 15, 2020
A to Z Words with their Specific Prepositions
April 16, 2020
Show all

Direct and Indirect Speech with Rules and Examples

There are many occasions in which we need to describe an event or action that happened, and very often that includes repeating what someone said. Such occasions can include a social situation as well as in a work email or presentation. In order to describe what people said there are two different types of speech – direct speech and indirect speech (or reported speech).

Direct Speech

When we want to describe what someone said, one option is to use direct speech. We use direct speech when we simply repeat what someone says, putting the phrase between speech marks:

Paul came in and said, “I’m really hungry.”

It is very common to see direct speech used in books or in a newspaper article. For example:

The local MP said, “We plan to make this city a safer place for everyone.”

As you can see, with direct speech it is common to use the verb ‘to say’ (‘said’ in the past). But you can also find other verbs used to indicate direct speech such as ‘ask’, ‘reply’, and ‘shout’. For example:

When Mrs Diaz opened the door, I asked, “Have you seen Lee?”

She replied, “No, I haven’t seen him since lunchtime.”

The boss was angry and shouted, “Why isn’t he here? He hasn’t finished that report yet!”

Indirect Speech

When we want to report what someone said without speech marks and without necessarily using exactly the same words, we can use indirect speech (also called reported speech). For example:

Direct speech: “We’re quite cold in here.”

Indirect speech: They say (that) they’re cold.

When we report what someone says in the present simple, as in the above sentence, we normally don’t change the tense, we simply change the subject. However, when we report things in the past, we usually change the tense by moving it one step back. For example, in the following sentence the present simple becomes the past simple in indirect speech:

Direct speech: “I have a new car.”

Indirect speech: He said he had a new car.

Rule No: 1

First Person

If the reporting speech has the first-person pronoun, it will be changed as per the pronoun of reported speech, if it is a third-person pronoun. But if the first-person pronoun is used both in reporting speech and reported speech, no pronoun is changed here.

Study the examples below

Direct Speech Indirect Speech
She said, ” I am quite okay here” She said that she was quite okay there
He said, ” I play everyday” He said that he played everyday
They said, ” We have made good progress” They said that had made good progress
She said, ” My job is writing a letter” She said that her job was writing a letter
They said, ” we have good friends” They said that they had good friends
I said, ” I am making practice of reported speech” I said that I was making practice of reported speech
We said, ” We are learning English” We said that we were learning English

Rule No: 2

Second Person:
If the reported speech has the second person (you, yours, etc.), it is changed as per the object of reporting speech.

Study the examples below

Direct Speech Indirect Speech
He said to her, ” You are an intelligent girl” He said to her that she was an intelligent girl
She said to him, ” You are not true man” She said to him that he was not true man
He said to me,” You are a clever guy” He said to me that I was a clever guy
She said to Alex, ” You are cool guy” She said to Alex that he was a cool guy

Rule No: 3

Third Person

The third Person in reported speech is not changed in indirect speech

Study the examples below

Direct Speech Indirect Speech
He said, “They prefer singing” He said that they preferred singing
They said, “It is hard to bear cold” They said that it was hard to bear cold
Alex said, “He likes chocolate” Alex said that he liked chocolate
They said, “She is waiting for Umar” They said that she was waiting for Umar

Indirect Speech Rules for All Tenses

Read below the complete rules on how to make the indirect speech of present tense, past tense, and future tense.

Tense Change Rules Direct Speech Indirect Speech
Present Simple into 
Past Simple Tense
Umar said, “I always wait for Mark here Umar said that he always waited for Mark there.
Present Continuous
into Past Continuous
Umar said, “I am waiting for Mark” Umar said that he was waiting for Mark
Present Perfect into
Past Perfect
Asad said, “I have completed my essay” Asad said that he had completed his essay.
Present Perfect
Continuous into Past Perfect Continuous
Alex said, “I have been waiting for Mark” Alex said that he had been waiting for Mark.
Simple past into Past Perfect Tense Alex said,”Mark received a letter” Alex said that Mark had received a letter.
Past Perfect into Past Perfect Tense Alex said, “I had listened to your questions” Alex said that had listened to my questions.
Future simple tense (will into would)’ Alex said,”I will teach you reported speech” Alex said that he would teach me reported speech.
Future Continuous (will be into would be) Alex said, “I will be teaching you reported speech” Alex said that he would be teaching me reported speech.
Future Perfect Tense (Will have into would have) Alex said, “I will have written a letter” Alex said that he would have written a letter.

Rules for Change in Time and Adverb in Indirect Speech

There are some rules for changing the words showing time and place in direct speech into indirect speech. The study below the table showing the words of time and adverb, how they are changed in indirect speech.

Direct Speech Word Indirect Speech Word
Today That day
Yesterday The day before
Tomorrow The next day
Now Then
Ago Before
Here There
This That
Next week The following week
Next month The following month
Thus So
Last night The night before
Hither Thither
Hence Thence
Come Go

Now study the examples below, how to change the words expressing time and place from direct speech into indirect speech.

Direct Speech Indirect Speech
He said, “I am waiting here for you” He said that he was waiting there for me.
She said, “We will come tomorrow” She said that she would come the next day.
They said, “It is hot today” They said that it was hot that day.
I said, “I found a purse yesterday” I said that I found a purse a day before.
Alex said, “It is good time now to see him” Alex said that it was good time then to see him.

Change in Modal Verbs

Here are some Indirect speech rules for modal verbs.

Modal verbs are changed in indirect speech-like, Can into Could, May into Might, Must into had to. However, some Modals like, Would, could, might, should, ought to, are not changed in indirect speech.
Study the following example below for change in modal verbs in indirect speech

Direct Speech Indirect Speech
Umar said, “I can swim” Umar said that he could swim.
He said, “It may rain today” He said that it might rain that day.
She said, “I must run fast” She said that she had to run fast.
They said, “They would speak English” They said that they would speak English.
He said, “It might cost me more money” He said that it might cost him more money.

Indirect speech for Imperative Sentences

Imperative sentences consist of command, request, order, suggestion, or advice. Therefore, to change imperative sentences from direct into indirect speech, the following points should be noted.

1. understand the mood of the sentence if it is command, request, advice, or suggestion.
2. Use appropriate joining clauses as per the spirit of the sentence.
3. Follow the other rules of reported speech.

Now study the examples below.

Direct Speech Mood of Sentence Indirect Speech
Umar said, “please come here” Request Umar requested to come there.
Mark said to him, “Do not take this exercise easy” Advice Mark advised students not to take that exercise easy.
Dentist said to Alex, “Stay away from smoking” Advice/Suggestion The dentist advised Alex to stay away from Smoking.
He said to the guard, “open the door” Oder He ordered guard to open the door.
He said, “Lets wait for Alex here” Suggestion He suggested to wait for Alex there.

Indirect Speech for Exclamatory Sentences

Exclamatory sentences express the state of grief, wonder, or happiness. The following are the point to keep in mind before changing exclamatory sentences from direct speech into indirect speech.

1. Understand the mood of sentences.
2. Use the appropriate joining clause for exclamatory sentences.
3. Follow the other rules of direct and indirect speech.

Study the examples below.

Direct Speech Mood of Sentence Indirect Speech
Alex said, “Hurrah! I have solved reported speech pdf assignment” Joy Alex expressed with joy that he had solved reported speech pdf assignment.
Alex said, “Alas! I have failed the exam” Sorrow Alex expressed with sorrow that he had failed the exam.
Alex said, “How cool the weather is!” Wonder Alex expressed with wonder that it was the cool weather.
She said, “Vow! what a good watch it is” Wonder She exclaimed with wonder that it was a good watch.

Indirect Speech of Interrogative Sentences 

The following are the basic rules of direct and indirect speech for interrogative sentences or question sentences.

1. Punctuation marks (comma, inverted comma, question marks ) are removed.
2. The conjunction “that” is omitted.
3. Interrogative form is changed into the assertive form of the sentence.
4. ‘Said’ is changed into asked or inquired.
5. Use of ‘If’ or ‘Whether’ is made For the interrogative sentences that cant is answered simply in Yes or No.

Now study the examples below

Direct Speech Indirect Speech
He said to me, “Will you be here tomorrow?” He asked me whether I would be there the next day.
Mother said to son, “Do you think to disobey me?” Mother asked son if he thought to disobey her.
Teacher said, “Do you know the exact answer?” Teacher asked students whether they knew the exact answer.
She said to me, “What is the name of great Mughal King?” She asked me what was the name of great Mughal King.
They said, “What is the schedule of examination?” They asked what was the schedule of examination.
He said to me, “Have you been to Turkey?” He asked me if I had been to Turkey.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *