There are many times when we need to describe a recent action or event, and this frequently includes repeating what someone said. A social situation, as well as a work presentation or email, are examples of such occasions. There are two types of speech used to describe what people said: direct sentence and indirect sentence (or reported speech).

Continue reading to learn more about these forms and how to improve your English storytelling abilities.

Direct and Indirect Speech

For English learners, the distinction between direct and indirect sentences can be perplexing. Let’s start by defining some terms and learn some definitions, then look at how to discuss what someone said and how to switch from direct to indirect and indirect to direct sentences.

You know how to answer the question, “What did she achieve?” in two varied ways:

by repeating (direct sentence) or reporting (reporting) the words spoken (indirect or reported sentence).

Direct Speech with Examples

The exact words spoken are repeated or quoted in sentences. When we use direct sentences in writing, we put the words spoken between quotation marks (” “) and leave them alone. We could be reporting something that is currently being said (for example, a phone conversation) or telling someone about a previous conversation later.

Examples

“What time will you be at the mall?” she inquires.

“What time will you be at home?” she inquired. “I don’t know!” I replied.

Simone screamed, “There’s a cockroach in my soup!”

“There’s a camel outside the window,” John said.

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Indirect Speech with Examples

When we use indirect or reported sentences to talk about the past, we usually change the tense of the words we say. We use reporting verbs like ‘tell,’ ‘say,’ and ‘ask,’ and we may introduce the reported words with the word ‘that.’ There are no inverted commas in this sentence.

“I saw him,” she said. She stated that she had seen him (direct sentence). (spoken in a roundabout way)

It is possible to omit “that”:

She expressed her love to him.

Direct and Indirect Speech Rules

Direct and Indirect Speech Exercises for Modals

Look at the modals-based answers in the examples.

#“I can cook,” he stated.

He claimed that he could prepare meals.

#“We might go to Canada,” they said.

They expressed an interest in visiting Canada.

#“I have to finish the work on time,” she stated.

She stated that she needed to complete the project on time.

Should, would, could, might, and ought to are the only modals that haven’t changed.

#“I should avoid junk food,” Kanika said.

Kanika advised her to stay away from junk food.

Changes as Per Reporting Verb

Changes are made in the direct sentence or the sentence inverted commas, depending on the reporting verb.

#The direct sentence is changed to the past tense if the reporting verb is in the past tense.

#When the reporting verb is in the present or future tense, the tense of speech remains unchanged.

#If the sentence contains the universal truth, the Indirect Speech does not change it.

Examples

We’ve included examples with reporting verb changes below.

#“He is young,” Navin said.

Navin stated that he was in his early twenties.

#“I am pretty,” Isha declares.

Isha thinks she’s attractive.

#“I am tall,” Rohan will say.

Rohan will tell you that he is a tall man.

#“The sun rises in the east,” they said.

The sun is said to rise in the east.

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Changes as Per Tense

Direct Indirect
Present simple

(Subject +V1st + Object)

Past simple

(Subject +V2 + Object)

Present continuous

(Subject +is/am/are+V1 +ing+ Object)

Past Continuous

(Subject +was/were+V1 +ing+ Object)

Present perfect

(Subject + has/have+V3+Object)

Past perfect

(Subject+had+V3+Object)

Past simple

(Subject+V2+Object)

Past perfect

(Subject+had+V3+Object)

Past Continuous

(Subject +was/were+V1 +ing+ Object)

Past perfect continuous

(Subject +had been+V1 +ing+ Object)

Future simple

(Subject+ will/shall+V1+object)

Present Conditional

(Subject+ would+V1+object)

Future Continuous

(Subject +will/shall+be+V1 +ing Object)

Conditional Continuous

(Subject +would+be+V1 +ing Object)

Examples

Using the table above, check the tense of the examples. Changes will always be made in accordance with the table provided.

#“I walk,” Rosy said.

Rosy stated that she went for a walk.

#“I’m having tea,” Raj explained.

Raj stated that he was enjoying a cup of tea.

#“Honey has gone to school,” Tina said.

Honey had gone to school, according to Tina.

#“Ananya took pasta,” Neha explained.

Ananya had taken pasta, according to Neha.

#“We were living in Korea,” they explained.

They stated that they had previously resided in Korea.

#“I’m going to Sri Lanka,” Ramesh declared.

Ramesh has stated that he will travel to Sri Lanka.

#“They’ll be watering plants,” Kareena said.

They would be watering plants, according to Kareena.

Changes in Place and Time

Direct Speech  Indirect Speech 
Now Then
Here There
Today That day
Tomorrow The next day
Last Week The previous week
This That
Tonight That night
Ago Before
Thus So
Hither Thither
Come Go
Hence Thence
Next Following

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Changes of Interrogative Sentences

For interrogative sentence conversions, we’ll go over some rules.

#According to the nature of the sentence, the reporting verb said/said to is replaced with asked, demanded, ordered, or enquired.

#When a sentence begins with a reporting verb, if /whether is used as the joining clause during conversion.

#If the sentence begins with the question word “Why,” no additional conjunction is used.

Examples

In the exercise below, we’ll use the above rules to make changes to Direct and Indirect.

#“What is Tina doing?” Ravi inquired.

Ravi inquired as to what Tina was up to.

#“Will she come for lunch?” Anu inquired.

Anu inquired as to whether she could join us for lunch.

#“Where do you stay?” the boy inquired.

The young man wanted to know where I stayed.

Change of Pronouns

When switching between direct and indirect, one should be aware of the rules for changing pronouns.

#According to the subject of reporting speech, the first person in reported speech changes.

#The change of the second person in reported speech is determined by the object of the reporting speech.

#The third person is unaffected.

#“I am a good girl,” Vidya said.

Vidya described her as a good girl.

#“You have completed your work,” I told them.

I informed them that they had completed their task.

#“She is in Delhi,” he said.

He stated that she was currently in Delhi.

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Speech Conversation

The first person in direct speech shifts depending on the topic.

Examples of direct and indirect-

“I am in Twelfth grade,” he said flatly.

Indirect: He claims to have been in Twelfth grade.

The object of reporting speech affects the second person of direct speech.

Examples of direct speech to indirect speech –

“You have completed your work,” she tells them flatly.

She tells them that they have completed their work in an indirect manner.

Direct speech’s third person does not change.

Examples of direct to indirect–

“She dances well,” he says flatly.

He says she dances well in an indirect way.

Conclusion

Hopefully this article gave you a clear view of how to use direct and indirect speech in your daily grammar.

We have gone over important rules of indirect and direct speech in this article, which are relevant to the English grammar of various competitive exams.

Because the English language is a part of the syllabus for most of these exams, aspirants for RRB, SSC, IBPS, Insurance, and other government exams should carefully review the concept and rules of direct – indirect speech.

Candidates studying for upcoming government exams should pay close attention to the concept of Direct and Indirect speech rules, as the English Language section of these exams is where candidates tend to score the lowest.

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