Reported Speech





  1. Direct Speech

    In direct speech, we convey the message of the speaker in his own actual words without any change to another person.

  2. Indirect Speech

    In indirect speech, we convey the message of the speaker in our own words to another person.

  3. Procedure of changing direct speech into indirect speech

    1. Remove comma and inverted commas.
    2. Put "that" between the reporting and reported speeches.(it is optional to put "that" between the reporting and reported speech)
    3. Change the 1st letter of reported speech into small letter except for "I"
    4. Change the pronoun of the direct speech according to the rules described in table 2
    5. Change the tense of the direct speech appropriately according to rules described in table 3.
    6. Change the words expressing nearness in time or places of the direct speech into its appropriate words expressing distance as per table 1

  4. Rules for changing Direct into Indirect Speech

    1. The past tense is often used when it is uncertain if the statement is true or when we are reporting objectively.
      Indirect Speech Conversion Direct Speech Condition
      Present Tenses in the Direct Speech are changed into Past Tense. If the reporting or principal verb is in the Past Tense.
      Do Not Change Tense of reported Speech in Indirect Speech sentence If in direct speech you find say/says or will say.
      Direct speech the words within the quotation marks talk of a universal truth or habitual action.
      The reporting verb is in a present tense.
    2. When there are two sentences combined with the help of a conjunction and both sentences have got different tenses. then change the tenses of both sentences according to the rule.
    3. Words expressing nearness in time or places are generally changed into words expressing distance.
      Change of place and time Direct Speech Word Indirect Speech Word
      Here There
      Today that day
      this morning that morning
      Yesterday the day before
      Tomorrow the next day
      next week the following week
      next month the following month
      Now Then
      Ago Before
      Thus So
      Last Night the night before
      This That
      These Those
      Hither Thither
      Hence Thence
      Come Go

  5. Change in Pronouns

    The pronouns of the Direct Speech are changed where necessary, according to their relations with the reporter and his hearer, rather than with the original speaker. If we change direct speech into indirect speech, the pronouns will change in the following ways.

    Rules Direct Speech Indirect Speech
    The first person of the reported speech changes according to the subject of reporting speech. She says, "I am in tenth class." She says, "I am in tenth class."
    The second person of reported speech changes according to the object of reporting speech. He says to them, "You have completed your job." He tells them that they have completed their job.
    The third person of the reported speech doesn't change. She says, "She is in tenth class." She says that she is in tenth class.

  6. Change in Tenses

    The past perfect and past perfect continuous tenses do not change.

    Rules Direct Speech Indirect Speech
    Simple Present Changes
    Simple Past
    "I always drink coffee", she said She said that she always drank coffee.
    Present Continuous Changes
    Past Continuous
    "I am reading a book", he explained. He explained that he was reading a book
    Present Perfect Changes
    Past Perfect
    She said, "He has finished his work" She said that he had finished his work.
    Present Perfect Continuous Changes
    Past Perfect Continuous
    "I have been to Spain", he told me. He told me that he had been to Spain.
    Simple Past Changes
    Past Perfect
    "Bill arrived on Saturday", he said. He said that Bill had arrived on Saturday
    Past Perfect Changes
    Past Perfect (No Change In Tense)
    "I had just turned out the light," he explained. He explained that he had just turned out the light.
    Past Continuous Changes
    Past Perfect Continuous
    "We were living in Paris", they told me. They told me that they had been living in Paris.
    Future Changes
    Present Conditional
    "I will be in Geneva on Monday", he said He said that he would be in Geneva on Monday.
    Future Continuous Changes
    Conditional Continuous
    She said, "I'll be using the car next Friday." She said that she would be using the car next Friday.

  7. Changes in Modals

    Rules Direct Speech Indirect Speech
    CAN changes into COULD He said, "I can drive a car". He said that he could drive a car.
    MAY changes into MIGHT He said, "I may buy a computer" He said that he might buy a computer.
    MUST changes into HAD TO He said, "I must work hard" He said that he had to work hard.
    These Modals Do Not Change: Would, could, might, should, ought to.
    Would They said, "we would apply for a visa" They said that they would apply for visa.
    Could He said, "I could run faster" He said that he could run faster.
    Might John said, "I might meet him". John said that he might meet him.
    Should He said, "I should avail the opportunity" He said that he should avail the opportunity.
    Ought to He said to me, "you ought to wait for him" He said to me that I ought to wait for him.

  8. Changes for Imperative Sentences

    Imperative sentences consist any of these four things:

    • Order
    • Request
    • Advice
    • Suggestion

    Most commonly used words to join clauses together are ordered, requested, advised and suggested. Forbid(s)/ forbade is used for the negative sentences.

    Mood of Sentence in Direct Speech Reporting verb in indirect verb
    Order ordered
    Request requested / entreated
    Advice advised / urged
    Never told, advised or forbade (No need of "not" after "forbade")
    Direction directed
    Suggestion suggested to
    Warning warn
    (If a person is addressed directly) called

  9. Exclamatory Sentences

    Exclamatory sentences expresses emotions. Interjections such as Hurrah, wow, alas, oh, ah are used to express emotions. The word "that" is used as join clause.

    1. Rules for conversion of Exclamatory Direct Speech Sentences into Indirect Speech Sentences

      1. Exclamatory sentence changes into assertive sentence.
      2. Interjections are removed.
      3. Exclamation mark changes into full stop.
      4. W.H words like , "what" and "how" are removed and before the adjective of reported speech we put "very"
      5. Changes of "tenses" , "pronouns" and "adjectives" will be according to the previous rules.
    Mood of Sentence in Direct Speech Reporting verb in indirect verb
    sorrow in reported speech Exclaimed with sorrow/ grief/ exclaimed sorrowfully or cried out
    happiness in reported speech exclaimed with joy/ delight/ exclaimed joyfully
    surprise in reported speech exclaimed with surprise/ wonder/ astonishment"
    appreciation and it is being expressed strongly applauded

  10. Interrogative Sentences

    Interrogative sentences are of two types:

    1. Interrogative with auxiliaries at the beginning.
    2. Interrogatives with who, where, what, when, how etc., i.e. wh questions.
    1. Rules for conversion of Interrogative Direct Speech Sentence into Indirect Speech Sentences

      There are some rules to change direct to Indirect speech of Interrogative sentence:

      Changes Direct Speech Condition Indirect Speech Condition
      Reporting Verb said/ said to Asked, enquired or demanded.
      Joining Clause If sentence begins with auxiliary verb joining clause should be if or whether.
      If sentence begins with "wh" questions then no conjunction is used as "question-word" itself act as joining clause.
      Punctuation Question Mark Full Stop
      Helping Verbs sentences is expressing positive feeling do/does is removed from sentence.
      if 'No' is used in interrogative sentences do/does is changed into did.
      Did or has/have Had
    • Helping verbs (is, am, are, was, were) are used after the subject.
    • Adverbs and pronouns are converted according to the table 1 and table 2 respectively.

  11. Punctuation in Direct Speech

    In direct speech, various punctuation conventions are used to separate the quoted words from the rest of the text: this allows a reader to follow what's going on.
    Here are the basic rules:

    The words that are actually spoken should be enclosed in inverted commas 'He's very clever, you know.'
    Start new paragraph every time when a new speaker says something. 'They think it's a more respectable job,' said Joe.
    'I don't agree,' I replied
    Comma, full stop, question mark, or exclamation mark must be present at the end of reported sentences. This is placed inside the closing inverted comma or commas. 'Can I come in?' he asked.
    'Just a moment!' she shouted.
    'You're right,' he said.
    If direct speech comes after the information about who is speaking, comma is used to introduce the piece of speech, placed before the first inverted comma. Steve replied, 'No problem.'
    If the direct speech is broken up by information about who is speaking, comma (or a question mark or exclamation mark) is used to separate the two reported speech 'You're right,' he said. 'It feels strange.'
    'Thinking back,' she said, 'he didn't expect to win.'

  12. Rules for conversion of Indirect Speech to Direct Speech

    To change from Indirect to Direct Speech, keep the rules of the Direct Speech are applied in the reverse order.

    1. Use the reporting verb, "say" or "said to" in its correct tense.
    2. Remove the conjuctions "that, to, if or whether etc". wherever necessary.
    3. Insert quotation marks, question mark, exclamation and fullstop, wherever necessary.
    4. Put a comma before the statement.
    5. Write the first word of the statement with capital letter.
    6. Change the past tense into present tense wherever the repoting verb is in the past tense.
    7. Convert the past perfect either into past tense or present perfect as found necessary.
    8. Be careful about the order of words in the question.

    The following table will enable to find the kind of sentence:

    Indirect (Conjunction) Direct (Kind of Sentence)
    That Statement (or) Exclamatory sentence
    to, not to Imperative
    requested + to Begin the imperative sentence with "please"
    if or whether Interrogative sentence (Helping Verb + Subject + Main Verb + ...?)
    What, When, How etc., (Wh or How + Helping Verb + Subject + Main Verb + ...?)