Direct and Indirect Speech With Examples and Explanations

Updated on December 8, 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 is.
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

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    • profile image

      Junaid Ahmad khan 

      12 hours ago

      Dear Amit@the student replied respectfully that he knew that.

    • profile image

      nirakar sagar 

      2 days ago

      it was nice informative thanks

    • profile image

      Amit 

      4 days ago

      My question_ "I know that, sir" replied the student

    • profile image

      rajni 

      7 days ago

      it's really wonderful and will help me a lot to give confidence in using indirect speech in writing as well as communication. thanks a lot for your efforts.

    • profile image

      mehak 

      7 days ago

      its helpful

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      Yasir 

      7 days ago

      Thank you

    • Rafiq23 profile imageAUTHOR

      Muhammad Rafiq 

      13 days ago from Pakistan

      Thanks Taurine Tarakia for your comments. I am glad it helped you.

    • Rafiq23 profile imageAUTHOR

      Muhammad Rafiq 

      13 days ago from Pakistan

      Thanks Karzai for your comments.

    • profile image

      Aanete Taurine Tarakia 

      13 days ago

      Great thanx to this special site cause it did really help me with creating an appropriate lesson plan on indirect and direct speech for tomorrow for my major assignment. The information conveys many different and crucial elements of those two modes of speeches which luckily had brought me into a better state of understanding of this particular field of knowledge.

    • profile image

      JUNAID AHMAD KHAN HAMID KARZAII(PAKISTANI) 

      13 days ago

      A Beautiful colllection i have ever visited@

      V As a students love Such Things@

      "Realy Meritorious":

    • profile image

      Sarah 

      2 weeks ago

      This article was very helpful. It has helped me in my studies greatly. Thank you!

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      Vijaya 

      2 weeks ago

      It is very helpful to me .

      I like it

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      Felicia 

      2 weeks ago

      thanks

      its very explanatory

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      BETEN 

      2 weeks ago

      THANK U

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      Wubshet Bala 

      2 weeks ago

      A good explanation! I liked it.

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      Smiley 

      3 weeks ago

      Tnx. This was so helpful

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      Prince 

      3 weeks ago

      Thanks you

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      Venkatesan 

      3 weeks ago

      Nice. very helpful to me to write my test

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      Yaara Aafrin 

      3 weeks ago

      Very informative!!

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      Naga neha 

      3 weeks ago

      It's very helpful

      I liked it a lot

      Thank you for this

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      Pratinav 

      3 weeks ago

      Nice it helped me a lot

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      Rahul 

      3 weeks ago

      Loved you presentation. It is very helpful

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      Palak 

      3 weeks ago

      It is so useful for me

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      chandra 

      3 weeks ago

      i want learn more .please more provide me sir

    • profile image

      THANKS 

      3 weeks ago

      This was VERY helpful. Hope you will add more! Dont give up!

    • Rahma Fawad profile image

      Rahma Fawad 

      3 weeks ago

      This site helped me alot in learning direct & indirect speech

    • profile image

      Naziya 

      4 weeks ago

      Very useful tq very tq for information

    • profile image

      Karan 

      4 weeks ago

      They say to us."sita is a good girl

    • profile image

      Sheak munni 

      4 weeks ago

      We want tenses table plz

    • profile image

      Ramiz Raja 

      4 weeks ago

      Very useful because of using simple words and methods. Thanks a lot

    • profile image

      Sakshi Singh 

      4 weeks ago

      Thank you very much

    • profile image

      Sangeetha 

      4 weeks ago

      Thanks a lot now I got how to make a indirect into direct

    • profile image

      Chirag 

      5 weeks ago

      Thank you

    • profile image

      Abubakar 

      5 weeks ago

      Thanks

      With this giant great lesson

    • profile image

      Amir 

      5 weeks ago

      Very helpful

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      Tolessa 

      5 weeks ago

      really I like it and I used it for my teaching classes.

    • profile image

      Naif Rizwan 

      5 weeks ago

      Very helpful

    • profile image

      Gurhia 

      5 weeks ago

      She said,"You went there".

      Plz change the narration

    • profile image

      emreddin 

      5 weeks ago

      sweet

    • profile image

      Sangame Andeli 

      5 weeks ago

      That's great notes.. I liked it...

      Brother if it had been in PDF it's very helpful to study in offline using print out..

    • profile image

      KARZAII WAZIR 

      5 weeks ago

      Amina tausuf

      "He Asked Where his pen was"

    • profile image

      Christian 

      5 weeks ago

      I really love your grammar lessons. I hope that in this learn grammar i would make my brain more knwledgeable.thank you

    • profile image

      Black spade 

      5 weeks ago

      He asked where was his pen.

    • profile image

      Aminatyusuf 

      6 weeks ago

      Pls change this sentence to indirect speech .'Where is my pen' he asked

    • profile image

      Rishi kumar 

      6 weeks ago

      Very useful for childrens

    • profile image

      Hamza Baloch 

      6 weeks ago

      That is Fantastic Articlel

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      Vinita 

      6 weeks ago

      Indirect se direct m chng krne k rules btaye plz

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      S. 

      6 weeks ago

      Very useful

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      Rimsha rubab 

      6 weeks ago

      Is the best information about direct indirect

      Thanks☺

    • profile image

      6 weeks ago

      Very useful

      Tq

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      sanmati 

      6 weeks ago

      it is perfect

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      Ramswroop 

      7 weeks ago

      I hope this is helpful for exam

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      jabran 

      7 weeks ago

      loved it

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      Varsha navnath Bhilare 

      7 weeks ago

      Very very helpful

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      Jong ki 

      7 weeks ago

      Very very helpful

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      Nadeem 

      7 weeks ago

      Thanks it is a useful website

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      xyz 

      7 weeks ago

      thankyou

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      vishal 

      7 weeks ago

      very useful

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      Nancy 

      7 weeks ago

      Thanks

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      Nour 

      7 weeks ago

      It's very useful

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      SHAIK MEER HUSSAIN 

      8 weeks ago

      Simple and wise

      Thanks for your effort

    • profile image

      Ikram khan 

      8 weeks ago

      Weldone sir g..

    • Rafiq23 profile imageAUTHOR

      Muhammad Rafiq 

      8 weeks ago from Pakistan

      You are right. They are wrong! Thanks for your appreciation.

    • profile image

      KARZAII 

      8 weeks ago

      Murdkder

      U are byself Going in wrong way,Please came to right path before doing negative remarks At the best teacher" Muhammad Rafiq"

    • profile image

      Manasa 

      2 months ago

      Very useful

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      Ali 

      2 months ago

      Thanks

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      santhosh kumar 

      2 months ago

      super useful

    • profile image

      Shayan 

      2 months ago

      Education website

    • profile image

      AHMAD khan Wazire 

      2 months ago

      not Only Sir And Madam change to respectfully but other changes also occurs as a role of English grammer.

      they are Changed b/c to show respect for them.

    • profile image

      Sandeep Kondaveti 

      2 months ago

      Why Sir and Madam change to respectfully?

    • profile image

      Nandita 

      2 months ago

      Very helpful and useful.

      Thank you sir

    • profile image

      Talha kashif 

      2 months ago

      Very helpful and useful.

      Thank you

    • profile image

      shahrukh 

      2 months ago

      thank you

    • profile image

      Vaishali sahu 

      2 months ago

      Thank you

    • profile image

      KARZAII WAZIR 

      2 months ago

      Stellar explaining way U Have,,,,,,,I Like The most,,,,,,,,May U live long

    • profile image

      Praise 

      2 months ago

      Sir give me questions l have test tommorow on direct and indirect speech

    • profile image

      JUNAID KARZAII 

      2 months ago

      Sir Please I Need the Indirect Narration of this Sentence,

      He said me, "traitor"@

    • profile image

      Sahr Alex Komba 

      2 months ago

      How can I get this note in my PDF document?

    • profile image

      Sartaj Ahmed 

      2 months ago

      Tysm Sir

    • profile image

      Soma Yadav 

      2 months ago

      Thank you very very very much sir.

    • profile image

      Kashif 

      2 months ago

      You explained in a sequence and easy way. Best

    • profile image

      Ragini Sahani 

      2 months ago

      Thank you sir very very very much

    • profile image

      Prabhat Chourasia 

      2 months ago

      Good sharing of knowledge. It'll surely help many to learn and understand direct and indirect speech.

    • profile image

      Neha 

      2 months ago

      Thank you

    • profile image

      Jabran rana 

      2 months ago

      Thanks a lot sir i have learned it puickly

    • profile image

      vasanth 

      2 months ago

      it is very helpful for know about more english grammer questions

    • profile image

      amir sohail 

      2 months ago

      she said,"hurrah,"we have won the match" sir how change this into indirect

    • profile image

      Kunwer jaiswal 

      2 months ago

      Very good teaching

    • profile image

      tahniet 

      2 months ago

      Very helpfull.

    • profile image

      kabwe most 

      2 months ago

      you hav done wel atleast i hav and i wil fail any question frm this topic

    • profile image

      Dipti R Shah 

      2 months ago

      Very good teaching method sir Thank you

    • profile image

      Ahmed 

      2 months ago

      we appreciate your great efforts

    • profile image

      2 months ago

      How simply you execute this Grammar Vital element, I specially hassled about this that my teacher doesn't teach me well, therefore i really advice you to post many english things as you can to assist people. Love You from pakistan grade 4

    • profile image

      Iqbal afghan 

      2 months ago

      Hi!

      How we can to change this e.g

      Why did you come late today?

      Into indirect speech.

    • profile image

      Ahmad Hussain 

      2 months ago

      It was fruitful for me and others as well.

    • profile image

      Riaz ahmed 

      3 months ago

      Very Nice. It is very easy way to teach the direct indirect. thanks

    • profile image

      muneeb 

      3 months ago

      very nice

    • profile image

      Tadvi Nayan 

      3 months ago

      Indirec speech

    • profile image

      Tabeer Ali 

      3 months ago

      What is the easiest way to learn direct indirect tell me sir

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