Direct and Indirect Speech With Examples and Explanations

Updated on September 17, 2019
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Muhammad Rafiq is a freelance writer, blogger, and translator with a Master's degree in English literature from the University of Malakand.

Definition of Indirect Speech

Indirect speech is also known as reported speech, indirect narration, or indirect discourse. In grammar, when you report someone else’s statement in your own words without any change in the meaning of the statement, it is called indirect speech. Quoting a person’s words without using his own word and bringing about any change in the meaning of the statement is a reported speech. Look at the following sentences:

Direct Speech: She says, “I am a little bit nervous.”

Indirect Speech: She says that she is a little bit nervous.

In the first sentence, the reporter conveys the message of the girl using her actual words (e.g., “I am a little bit nervous.”) In the second sentence, the reporter conveys her message but in his own words without any change in the meaning. Thus, both direct and indirect speeches are two different ways of reporting a statement of person. In simple words, quoting a person using your own words is called an indirect speech.

Key Terminology

During the process, you will come across many important terms that you need to know better so that you can convert any direct speech into indirect speech easily and without any hassle. Consider the following sentences:

  • Direct Speech: She says, “I am a little bit nervous.”
  • Indirect Speech: She says that she is a little bit nervous.

Now consider the different grammatical aspects of both.

  • Reporting Speech: The first part in the direct speech is called reporting speech.
  • Reported Speech: The second part of the sentence, which is closed in inverted commas or quotation marks, is called reported speech.
  • Reporting Verb: The verb of the reporting speech is called the reporting verb.
  • Reported Verb: The verb of the reported speech is called the reported verb.

Basic Rules

Before proceeding ahead, it is mandatory to memorize these rules:

Changes in Person of Pronouns:

  • 1st Person pronouns in reported speech are always changed according to the subject of the reporting speech.
  • 2nd Person pronouns in reported speech are always changed according to the object of the reporting speech.
  • 3rd Person pronouns in reported speech are not changed.

Changes in Verbs:

  • If the reporting speech is in present tense or future tense, then no change is required to be made in the verb of reported speech. This verb could be in any tense i.e., present, past, or future. For example:

Direct Speech: He says, “I am ill.”

Indirect Speech: He says that he is ill.

Direct Speech: She says, “She sang a song.”

Indirect Speech: She says that she sang a song.

Direct Speech: You say, “I shall visit London.”

Indirect Speech: You say that you will visit London.

  • If the reporting verb is in past tense, then reported verb will be changed as per the following criterion:
  • Present indefinite tense is changed into past indefinite tense. For example:

Direct Speech: They said, “They take exercise every day.”

Indirect Speech: They said that they took exercise every day.

  • Present continuous is changed into past continuous tense.

Direct Speech: They said, “They are taking exercise every day.”

Indirect Speech: They said that they were taking exercise every day.

  • Present perfect is changed into the past perfect tense.

Direct Speech: They said, “They have taken exercise.”

Indirect Speech: They said that they had taken exercise.

  • Present perfect continuous tense is changed into past perfect continuous tense.

Direct Speech: They said, “They have been taking exercise since morning.”

Indirect Speech: They said that they had been taking exercise since morning.

  • Past indefinite is changed into past perfect tense.

Direct Speech: They said, “They took exercise.”

Indirect Speech: They said that they had taken exercise.

  • Past continuous tense is changed into past perfect continuous tense.

Direct Speech: They said, “They were taking exercise.”

Indirect Speech: They said that they had been taking exercise.

  • No changes are required to be made into past perfect and past perfect continuous tenses.

Direct Speech: They said, “They had taken exercise.”

Indirect Speech: They said that they had taken exercise.

  • In Future Tense, while no changes are made except shall and will are changed into would.

Direct Speech: They said, “They will take exercise.”

Indirect Speech: They said that they would take exercise.

Important Word Changes

Words
Changed Into
Direct Speech
Indirect Speech
This
That
He says, “He wants to buy this book.”
He says that he wants to buy that book.
These
Those
He says, “He wants to buy these books.”
He says that he wants to buy those books.
Here
There
She says, “Everybody was here.”
She says that everybody was there.
Now
Then
They say, “It’s ten o’clock now.”
They say that it’s ten o’clock then.
Sir
Respectfully
They said, “Sir, the time is over.”
They said respectfully that the time was over.
Madam
Respecfully
They said, "Madam, the time is over."
They said respectfully that the time was over.
Today
That Day
She said, “I am going to London today.”
She said that she was going to London that day.
Yesterday
The Previous Day
She said, “I visited Oxford University yesterday.”
She said that she had visited Oxford University the previous day.
Tomorrow
Following Day or Next Day
She said, “I am going to London tomorrow.”
She said that she was going to London the next day.
Tonigh
That Night
She said, “I am going to see him tonight.”
She said that she was going to see him that night.
Good Morning, Good Evening, Good Day
Greeted
She said, “Good morning, Sir David.”
She greeted Sir David.

The rules above are mandatory for converting direct speech into indirect speech. Hence, they should be memorized thoroughly. The following examples cover all the aforementioned rules. So, focus on every sentence to know how the above-mentioned rules have been used here.

Examples of Indirect Speech

Direct Speech
Indirect Speech
She says, “I eat an apple a day.”
She says that she eats an apple a day.
He will say, “My brother will help her.”
He will say that his brother will help her.
We said, “We go for a walk every day.”
We said that we went for a walk every day.
You say, “I went to London yesterday.”
You say that you went to London the previous day.
He said, “My father is playing cricket with me.”
He said that his father was playing cricket with him.
They said, “We have completed our homework.”
They said that they had completed their homework.
She said, “I have been waiting for him since last morning.”
She said that she had been waiting for him since last morning.
She said, “I bought a book.”
She said that she had bought a book.
They said, “We were celebrating Eid yesterday.”
They said that they had been celebrating Eid the previous day.
We said, “We had been waiting since morning.”
We said that we had been waiting since morning.
He said to me, “I will not give you any medicine without prescription.”
He said to me that he would not give me any medicine without a prescription.
Rafiq said, “I shall leave for London tomorrow.”
Rafiq said that he would leave for London the next day.
She said, “I shall be visiting my college tomorrow.”
She said that she would be visiting her college the following day.
They said, “It will have been snowing since morning.”
They said that it would have been snowing since morning.

Assertive Sentences

Sentences that make a statement are called assertive sentences. These sentences may be positive, negative, false, or true statements. To convert such sentences into indirect narration, use the rules as mentioned above except said is sometimes replaced with told. Look at the following examples:

Direct Speech: She says, “I am writing a letter to my brother.”

Indirect Speech: She says that she is writing a letter to her brother.

Direct Speech: She says, “I was not writing a letter to my brother.”

Indirect Speech: She says that she was not writing a letter to her brother.

Direct Speech: She said to me, “I am writing a letter to my brother.”

Indirect Speech: She told me that she was writing a letter to her brother.

Imperative Sentences

Imperative sentences are sentences that give an order or a direct command. These sentences may be in the shape of advice, entreaty, request, or order. Mostly, it depends upon the forcefulness of the speaker. Thus, a full stop or sign of exclamation is used at the end of the sentence. For example:

  • Shut the door!
  • Please shut the door.
  • Repair the door by tomorrow!

To convert these types of sentences into indirect speech, follow the following rules along with the above-mentioned rules:

  • The reporting verb is changed according to reported speech into order in case the sentence gives a direct command. For example:

Direct Speech: The teacher said to me, “Shut the door.”

Indirect Speech: The teacher ordered me to shut the door.

  • The reporting verb is changed according to reported speech into a request in case the sentence makes a request. For example:

Direct Speech: He said to me, “Shut the door.”

Indirect Speech: He requested me to shut the door.

  • The reporting verb is changed according to reported speech into advise in case the sentence gives a piece of advice. For example:

Direct Speech: He said to me, “You should work hard to pass the exam.”

Indirect Speech: He advised me that I should work hard to pass the exam.

  • The reporting verb is changed according to reported speech into forbade in case the sentence prevents someone from doing something. For example:

Direct Speech: He said to me, “Not to smoke.”

Indirect Speech: He forbade me to smoke.

Examples

Direct Speech
Indirect Speech
We said to him, “Mind your own business.”
We urged him to mind his own business.
She said to him, “Consult a doctor.”
She suggested him to consult a doctor.
He said to me, “Write it again.”
He asked me to write it again.
You said to your father, “Please grant him leave for some time.”
You requested your father to grant him leave for some time.
My mother said to me, “Never tell a lie.”
My mother forbade me to tell a lie.

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Interrogative Sentences

Those sentences, which ask questions, are called interrogative sentences. Every interrogative sentence ends at a sign of interrogation. For example:

  • Do you live here?
  • Have you ever watched Terminator III movie?
  • Is it raining?

To convert interrogative sentences into indirect speech, follow the following rules along with the above-mentioned rules:

  • The reporting verb said to is changed into asked.
  • If the reporting speech is having the reporting verb at it its start, then if is used in place of that.
  • If the reporting speech is having interrogative words like who, when, how, why, when then neither if is used nor any other word is added.
  • A full stop is placed at the end of the sentence instead of a mark of interrogation.

Examples:

Direct Speech
Indirect Speech
I said to her, “When do you do your homework?”
I asked her when she did her homework.
We said to him, “Are you ill?”
We asked him if he was ill.
You said to me, “Have you read the article?”
You asked me if I had read the article.
He said to her, “Will you go to the Peshawar Radio Station?”
He asked her if she would go to the Peshawar Radio Station.
She says, “Who is he?”
She says who he was.
Rashid said to me, “Why are you late?”
Rashid asked me why I was late.

Exclamatory Sentences

Those sentences, which express our feelings and emotions, are called exclamatory sentences. Mark of exclamation is used at the end of an exclamatory sentence. For example:

  • Hurray! We have won the match.
  • Alas! He failed in the test.
  • How beautiful that dog is!
  • What a marvelous personality you are!

To change exclamatory sentences into indirect speech, follow the following rules along with the above-mentioned rules:

  • In case, there is an interjection, i.e., alas, aha, hurray, etc. in the reported speech, then they are omitted along with sign of exclamation.
  • Reporting verb, i.e., said is always replaced with exclaimed with joy, exclaimed with sorrow, exclaimed joyfully, exclaimed sorrowfully or exclaimed with great wonder or sorrow.
  • In case, there is what or how at the beginning of the reported speech, then they are replaced with very or very great.
  • In an indirect sentence, the exclamatory sentence becomes an assertive sentence.

Examples

Direct Speech
Indirect Speech
He said, “Hurray! I have won the match.”
He exclaimed with great joy that he had won the match.
She said, “Alas! My brother failed in the test.”
She exclaimed with great sorrow that her brother had failed in the test.
They said, “What a beautiful house this is!”
They exclaimed that that house was very beautiful.
I said, “How lucky I am!”
I said in great wonder that I was very lucky.
You said to him, “What a beautiful drama you writing!
You said to him in great wonder that he was writing a beautiful drama.

Optative Sentences

Those sentences, which express hope, prayer, or wish, are called optative sentences. Usually, there is a mark of exclamation at the end of optative sentence. For example:

  • May you succeed in the test!
  • May you get well soon!
  • Would that I were rich!

To change optative sentences into indirect speech, follow the following rules along with the above-mentioned rules:

  • In case, the reported speech starts with the word may, then the reporting verb said is replaced with the word prayed.
  • In case, the reported speech starts with the word would, then the reporting verb said is replaced with the word wished.
  • May is changed in might.
  • Mark of exclamation is omitted.
  • In indirect speech, the optative sentences become assertive sentences.

Examples

Direct Speech
Indirect Speech
He said to me, “May you live long!”
He prayed that I might live long.
My mother said to me, “May you succeed in the test!”
My mother prayed that I might succeed in the test.
She said, “Would that I were rich!”
She wished she had been rich.
I said to him, “Would that you were here on Sunday!”
I wished he had been there on Sunday.
You said to me, “ May you find your lost camera.”
You prayed that I might find my lost camera.

© 2014 Muhammad Rafiq

Comments

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    • profile image

      Aarati lad 

      6 hours ago

      Very very useful

    • profile image

      sanu 

      10 hours ago

      about imperative sentence

    • profile image

      Satyr pal singh 

      36 hours ago

      He said."fool! Liar." Change this sentence into indirect narration

    • profile image

      yogesh 

      11 days ago

      this is the very beautiful grammer reading

    • profile image

      suman 

      2 weeks ago

      'Don't throw the rubbish into the well,' the man tells the boy.

    • profile image

      Ifrahim Bashir 

      3 weeks ago

      Really a wonderful way of explanation. Its easy to understand the different types of speeches in different types of tenses. Great effort.

      Thanks.

    • profile image

      Nagoor be 

      3 weeks ago

      Can you tell about

      "Why"? I asked.

      Please send a message in indirect speech

    • profile image

      Talal abbasi 

      4 weeks ago

      make some excersizes here

    • profile image

      Kashmir banay ga Pakistan 

      4 weeks ago

      Devraj Singh it will be:

      ''My friend said to me that where i worked these days.''

    • profile image

      Devraj singh 

      4 weeks ago

      Sir please chamge this-

      My friend said to me,"Where do I work these days?"

      Sir please reply as I

      need to know about it

      Please sor help me

    • profile image

      nazya 

      4 weeks ago

      Some has do something very special plz change nerataion

    • profile image

      Sanju 

      4 weeks ago

      Tomorrow this may help to me

      Let me see

    • profile image

      Albior Rufino 

      6 weeks ago

      Big help. Thanks!

    • profile image

      Sara 

      6 weeks ago

      Please help me,change into indirect sentences

      The mother said,come"come my child.

    • Rafiq23 profile imageAUTHOR

      Muhammad Rafiq 

      6 weeks ago from Pakistan

      Thanks for your comments and humour!

    • profile image

      Maryam 

      6 weeks ago

      Your second last example of interrogative sentences. It says:

      She says, who is he?”

      Your answer is “she says who he was.”

      Shouldn’t it be she says who is he?

      As you have written, “if reporting speech is present or future tense, no change is required in its verb”

    • profile image

      Sushiksha katwal 

      6 weeks ago

      Thank you sooooo much . It helped me allot .

    • profile image

      sabka bap 

      6 weeks ago

      I said to Muhammad raquif," Wow ! What a wonderful explanation ".

    • profile image

      nandhu 

      7 weeks ago

      thank you so much it so helpfull in my examiation tank a lot

    • profile image

      Bertilla 

      8 weeks ago

      It helped me alot in understanding the topic...thanks to you.

    • profile image

      Jemal ahmed from Dire Dawa ; Ethiopia 

      8 weeks ago

      thank you very much for giving such a wonderful and understandable explanation with their related examples

    • profile image

      Adinath Thakare 

      8 weeks ago

      Answer this

      Lucky played cricket well at time

    • profile image

      Ahmad Ali 

      8 weeks ago

      Great

    • profile image

      Said A.S 

      2 months ago

      Thank you sir.

    • profile image

      Salama 

      2 months ago

      Thank you so much for such wonderful examples and explaination. It helps me a lot.....

    • profile image

      Tasha Aamena 

      2 months ago

      Thank you sir ,

      I can easily understand it ,

      Plz give more examples.

    • profile image

      Urvashi 

      2 months ago

      Thank you sir

      It might help me tomorrow

      I can easily understand these whole

      Topic

    • profile image

      ayesha 

      2 months ago

      tomorrow is my prezentation plz help me in this thanks .......

    • profile image

      ayesha 

      2 months ago

      plz write some for about direct and indirect defination

    • profile image

      Jane 

      2 months ago

      Thanks for giving this ..such a awesome example.that can be easily gained.....

    • Rafiq23 profile imageAUTHOR

      Muhammad Rafiq 

      2 months ago from Pakistan

      He said to me to write it again.

    • profile image

      Ralph 

      2 months ago

      I want answer of this:

      He said to me, "write it again."

    • profile image

      Rishi vishwakarma 

      2 months ago

      Thanku☺☺☺☺☺☺☺☺

    • profile image

      Tasmia 

      2 months ago

      Thank u for giving us such a good examples

    • profile image

      Sadat 

      2 months ago

      sir , the way you taught direct and indirect speech is very wondering for me and I learned a lot.thanks

    • profile image

      Junaid Karzai 

      2 months ago

      Sir,the method belonging to your explanation of the direct and indirect is realy marvellous and smashingly.

      "I Learn alot from this site"

      "Sir bundle of thanks"

      but sir i request u with all respect that please give reply to any one user if they have a fall on this site or other such one problem relating to it;

    • profile image

      Khushi 

      2 months ago

      Plz help me direct or indirect speech

    • profile image

      Vishal Singhal 

      2 months ago

      Thank you.

    • profile image

      Alok 

      2 months ago

      Very good, wonderful

    • profile image

      Muhammad Imran 

      2 months ago

      very good explaination thant alot Jazakallah.

    • profile image

      Misbah jamil 

      2 months ago

      Thanks aloot I understand easily

    • profile image

      Awortwe Stephen (KMCE2020) 

      2 months ago

      very helpful

    • profile image

      Guest 

      2 months ago

      Thank you

    • profile image

      umugwanezanadine40@gmail.com 

      2 months ago

      It was good to learn this reported speech while it was complicate for me. then thank u so much

    • profile image

      M Boota 

      2 months ago

      Good one helping in understanding. do you have your site where we can download sentences ???

    • Rafiq23 profile imageAUTHOR

      Muhammad Rafiq 

      2 months ago from Pakistan

      Ayesha: If the reporting speech is having the reporting verb (is, are, am etc., at it its start, then if is used in place of that. If the reporting speech is having interrogative words like who, when, how, why, when then neither if is used nor any other word is added. Moreover, the interrogative sentence becomes positive in Indirect Speech. Hence, the sentence is correct.

    • profile image

      Ayesha 

      2 months ago

      There is a problem I found in it. In the examples of interrogative sentences (example no. 05) . Could you please explain it. She says , "Who is he?" She says who he was. Please check it out and explain it to me. Thank you. These notes helped me.

    • profile image

      Aiza 

      3 months ago

      Thank you very much.

      Now, I can understand it easily

    • profile image

      shivani 

      3 months ago

      He said,'' I can do this Job.''

    • profile image

      Joseph isack 

      3 months ago

      I have enjoy you notes

    • profile image

      Yahya 

      3 months ago

      He said I live in the city

    • profile image

      Sevlivil 

      3 months ago

      It's very easy for me because your web clear the talk i rlly enjoyed the lecons cuz i like grammar thank you all for the table and the exemples ♡♡

    • profile image

      Sahid Akhtar Ahmed 

      3 months ago

      Can it be a narration without the introductory part?

      E.g- "Let me come in."

      ☝️Is it a valid direct narration?

    • profile image

      Ruchitha 

      3 months ago

      Oh break a leg

    • profile image

      Ruhi Rana 

      3 months ago

      Very much helpful

    • profile image

      Sanjibani Biswas 

      3 months ago

      Thank you.

      Very nice narration .

      And very helpful .

      This grammar very useful.

    • profile image

      zortalab rahee 

      3 months ago

      Thank you

    • profile image

      Hareem 

      3 months ago

      Its amazing This Is very Helpful Thanks alot

    • profile image

      vm 

      3 months ago

      gadedho

    • profile image

      Jeewan Singh 

      4 months ago

      He says to me you are is black and mine is white

    • Rafiq23 profile imageAUTHOR

      Muhammad Rafiq 

      4 months ago from Pakistan

      You are welcome. Now you can read this article on my Android App. Here is the link: http://bit.ly/2Htci0Q

    • profile image

      Ronie 

      4 months ago

      Thanks a lot

    • profile image

      Hindoli 

      4 months ago

      Very helpful

    • profile image

      Mohit 

      4 months ago

      Very nice grammar

    • profile image

      AHSAN SHABBIR 

      4 months ago

      I Like to learn Grammar.But the Grammar is so difficult.

    • profile image

      kaluwapa Annastasia 

      4 months ago

      The grammar used is very useful to 99 percent ,it help me a lot

    • profile image

      Aman 

      4 months ago

      Mohan said,"she does not sing a song"

      Please translate to indirect...

      Please answer fast sir ji...

    • profile image

      Mahirakhan 

      4 months ago

      Thnk u sooooooo much

    • profile image

      Priyanka 

      4 months ago

      Now girls ,said agnes ,don't begin to quarrel change into direct to indirect or indirect to direct

    • profile image

      jay patil 

      4 months ago

      very guidefull and useful

      i love it

    • profile image

      KONDE NEHA LAXMAN 

      4 months ago

      what is the interrogative of :

      do you live here

    • profile image

      chandra paudel 

      4 months ago

      very useful rules. here goes one question;

      He said," when I got there, the place was almost empty.'

      please supply right answer who knows

    • profile image

      Vineela 

      4 months ago

      It helped me a lot

    • profile image

      M javed 

      4 months ago

      Nice

    • profile image

      umm-e-Shafay 

      4 months ago

      Great work, it's really helpful

    • profile image

      Adeel 

      4 months ago

      Great Work

    • profile image

      Eng-A... 

      4 months ago

      Thanks veey much!!!

    • profile image

      Hafeel mbm 

      5 months ago

      Good

    • profile image

      Mushaf khan 

      5 months ago

      You will be called metal. Wouldn't u mind telling me that What will be the direct narration for this sentence?

    • profile image

      JUNAID KARZAI 

      5 months ago

      Actually "No"is omitted in a sentence while converting to Indirect form

      But the problem is that u have not written the Reporting speech!

      Without repoting speech how it is converted into indirect.

    • profile image

      Sherly 

      5 months ago

      "No, I don't like". Convert into indirect form.

    • profile image

      KARZAI WAZIR 

      5 months ago

      He will told(say) me that he was playing with his sister.

      When the reporting speech is in Future tense then no changes occur in the verb of reported speech

      As a rule "that" is installed by removing inverted commas.

    • profile image

      bhavesh choudhary 9610976530 

      5 months ago

      He will say to me ,"Iwas playing with my sister" .

      most ha

    • profile image

      JUNAID KARZAI 

      5 months ago

      This is important and I think Obligatory for each and every one b/C without knowing English grammer a man has no state to talk about english!

    • profile image

      Laiba 

      5 months ago

      This is helpful for people who want to know about English

    • profile image

      Maro 

      5 months ago

      we can't come to the party next friday.

      Change the sentence into indirect speech

    • profile image

      JUNAID KARZAI 

      5 months ago

      Sir as far as my think is concerened this method will make use of many peoples and students

      Sir ,I kindly request to tell me the Indirect of the following two sentences in limiting duration.

      1)he said to me,"Dog,you have been very mean"

      2)the old man said,"fool!you were not go there in such storm"

      Waiting for reply;;;;;; Please

    • profile image

      Aeohi Srivastava 

      5 months ago

      Very good

    • profile image

      leenah 

      5 months ago

      thanks.

      its great and help me alot

    • profile image

      Julho 

      5 months ago

      Present

      They are attractive

    • profile image

      raji 

      5 months ago

      good

    • profile image

      Ayesha 

      5 months ago

      Why said to changed in told? In assertive sentences, can u explain the reason behind this,? Reply me soon

    • profile image

      Samjhana Nepal 

      5 months ago

      He said,"Which do you want?" "This one"she said change into indirect

    • profile image

      suman 

      6 months ago

      The old man cursed him to die. change it in to direct speech

    • profile image

      zahid ali 

      6 months ago

      this is very informative and evey student can understand easy grammar by this site

    • profile image

      Umber 

      6 months ago

      Excellent

    • profile image

      Pavitra Shanbhag 

      6 months ago

      Very helpful. Some confusion about the sentence : They said, "They take exercise everyday." is changed to : They said that they took exercise every day. In the first sentence they are talking about somebody else but in the second sentence it appears that they are talking about themselves. Shouldn't there be some differentiation?

    • profile image

      Ishanth sundar 

      6 months ago

      Very useful

    • profile image

      Kainat 

      6 months ago

      This is really good... Even I can easily all sentences....

    • profile image

      Veera 

      6 months ago

      Good

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