Direct and Indirect Speech With Examples and Explanations - Owlcation - Education
Updated date:

Direct and Indirect Speech With Examples and Explanations

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

indirect-speech

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.
indirect-speech

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.

indirect-speech

Important Word Changes

Words Changed IntoDirect SpeechIndirect 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 SpeechIndirect 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 SpeechIndirect 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.

Poll

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 SpeechIndirect 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 SpeechIndirect 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

Iqra on August 31, 2020:

Thank you so much. This one article was enough to cover all the information.

Perry on August 31, 2020:

How do we change,

1.He buys a camera .

2.I wrote a letter

Nn on August 28, 2020:

Very well explain, thanks

Muhammad Yasin on August 28, 2020:

Very well explain .thanks

Selvam on August 25, 2020:

He said "Oh!I see"

Nishanthi on August 24, 2020:

Well organized. I Learnt a lot.

Thank you so much.

Yogesh on August 24, 2020:

Thanks

Amna Mohammad on August 23, 2020:

Very well explained

Sheku sesay socrates on August 19, 2020:

This work is highly in order.

Thanks.

Nanda Kumar on August 19, 2020:

I like it

Shooqa on August 16, 2020:

Very good I learn a lot

Akif Ullah on August 14, 2020:

Great work!! Thanks for such a brief explaination.

ebuka on August 13, 2020:

i like it to

ebuka on August 12, 2020:

thank you

Diddi Sathish on August 06, 2020:

Very useful information in a systematic way. Really appreciable work. Thank you very much

MB Kargbo on August 06, 2020:

This is wonderful!

My Geography teacher said,'The earth is round'.

Help me with this, Sir and what's the concept that justifies this.

Haile on July 30, 2020:

Much usefull

Ali raza khalid on July 28, 2020:

Brilliant! Bhaii deer zbardast I appriciated you.

Methz on July 28, 2020:

How did

Yogeshwar on July 27, 2020:

Ans of Zoya's question:

Father, "We shall go for a picnic tomorrow".

Children said, " Can we go to Gulmarg?"

Zoya on July 23, 2020:

Father suggested that they should go for a picnic the next day. Children asked if they

could go to Gulmarg. ( Change from indirect to direct speech)

gael on July 23, 2020:

can you change this to indirect:

He said to her, ‘What a hot day!

Opel on July 18, 2020:

The teacher forbade me to play with fire

Asim Baig on July 15, 2020:

Very easy to comprehend. Explained every concept / rules in a very nice manner.

Venkateshan on July 11, 2020:

Please help

Ahmed on July 10, 2020:

Sir kindly change this sentence into indirect

The teacher said, I have often told you don,t play with fire.

Muhammad Rafiq (author) from Pakistan on July 10, 2020:

Rohit said that he had been playing PUBG.

Vishu bhai on July 10, 2020:

Change it to indirect

Rohit said,"I was playing PUBG"

Muhammad Rafiq (author) from Pakistan on July 09, 2020:

Binanda asked what the time was.

Swagata on July 08, 2020:

Plz change the narration

Binanda said, what is the time now?

Swagata on July 08, 2020:

It's good but i have a question binanda said that, what is the time now

333 on July 07, 2020:

Its good

Hi on July 07, 2020:

theres a typo erro

Onyema chibuike on June 29, 2020:

Thank you very much

I have learnt a good lesson from your article

Muhammad Rafiq (author) from Pakistan on June 27, 2020:

This sentence cannot be changed into indirect speech as it is lacking in an essential part, which is called Reporting Speech. Without a Reporting Speech, we cannot convert it into Indirect Speech. Please, read the article thoroughly.

KarisChyoma on June 27, 2020:

Thanks

* on June 27, 2020:

Thank you very much it was fantastic

Mee Nge on June 27, 2020:

How to change ' Who are my parent' to indirect speech?

Zoha on June 25, 2020:

Kindly change into indirect

1.He Will says to us, you can not play with me,

2.we shall say to you, they have lost our pens.

3.we Said, from where do these things come.

Muhammad Rafiq (author) from Pakistan on June 22, 2020:

My girlfriend asked whether she liked horror films.

Huma naz on June 22, 2020:

Direct:- My girlfriend asked, “Do you like horror films?”

Indirect:- ???

Pucchu on June 21, 2020:

Thanks

Adhi on June 21, 2020:

It's very use full for me

Thanks

Apple on June 21, 2020:

excellent explanation i learned neatly by this explanation thank you for giving this beautiful explanation .

grandhi nagendra on June 17, 2020:

excellent explanation i learned neatly by this explanation thank you for giving this beautiful explanation .

edz on June 16, 2020:

this is so helpfully awesome! thanks for sharing your resources. you're a blessing to us!

JUNAID KHAN WAZIR on June 11, 2020:

when A GoOd PEicE is FOunD amId a bad ONe then that's your luckiness@BUT a Good STuff whose writter is also a visionary one and knows brevity@the more we prasie the site,the more it looks good@ReALY gOrgeous,,,,,,SIR,we wish U Safe and sound.

Parvej khan on June 07, 2020:

Yoy told ajay that he to day cooking he rich that day

Moin ansari on June 07, 2020:

we are hopeful lucky to come on this channel... thanks a lot for this valuable knowledge...

HARSHA on June 06, 2020:

THANKS FOR LETTING US KNOW

fareha ejaz on June 05, 2020:

nice it is amazing you did it so brilintly.

shittu ismail on June 04, 2020:

In fact ,you did a wonderful work.thank you.

MamidipelliRamu on June 04, 2020:

It helped me thank you sir/ madam.

Sadia on June 02, 2020:

It's helpful

Miracle Treasure Chisom on June 02, 2020:

It's very useful

Thanks so much

aayshs on May 30, 2020:

This page is very useful.thank you very much.now I am clear in directed speech.

Subham on May 29, 2020:

Thank you. It is very helpful to me. I have to thanked you to teach me with this website......

Devansh malik on May 27, 2020:

Thank you

Balaji on May 27, 2020:

Thank you very much it is much helpful for me to revise

kunbi oyedare on May 26, 2020:

Thank you so much for this detailed explanation

What an excellent revision! on May 26, 2020:

Really useful revision

Ronny on May 25, 2020:

It is very helpful and easy to understand

Komal on May 24, 2020:

Thanks so much

Moe Pwint May Lwin on May 23, 2020:

It's so helpful for me to study.Thanks a lot.

Goodness on May 21, 2020:

Awesome it is well explanatory

Vanshika on May 19, 2020:

It is very helpful in my studies

Nikhil on May 19, 2020:

Excellent!! Teaching.

Very easy to understand step by step

Thanks for this !!

Muhammad Rafiq (author) from Pakistan on May 19, 2020:

Thank you!

diya stha on May 18, 2020:

I like it no i love it

Muhammad Rafiq (author) from Pakistan on May 15, 2020:

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

Freedom Mutanda on May 15, 2020:

A very good step by step lesson. I have been teaching English as a second language for 27 years but there are some nuances of teaching I obtained here. Thank you a lot.

Virendra singh on May 14, 2020:

Very nice guru g

Bakana on May 09, 2020:

How about if the reported part is on the beggining of sentence while the reportin is on the end

navyasree siram on May 06, 2020:

very good content and easy to learn.

Hriday raj Biswas on May 05, 2020:

I like grammar very much

Hriday raj Biswas on May 05, 2020:

I like grammar very much

leeJake on May 04, 2020:

The content was very useful as I learn more on how to improve my writing skills

book worm lilly on May 04, 2020:

the text was great

it was very useful

Viren sharma on April 28, 2020:

I love Grammer so much

Sunil H.Chavan on April 27, 2020:

Good content ..... Easy to understand and anyone can use in daily routine

Abhijith on April 25, 2020:

I got even scared after seeing this

Deepann5th standard on April 21, 2020:

Super l don't under stand anything

Now

jill on April 19, 2020:

It is really useful sentences transformed in indirect speech without any mistake

Santosh dange on April 16, 2020:

It is really useful sentences transformed in indirect speech without any mistake thanks

Unknown on April 16, 2020:

I hate it, just joking I love it

hirosh on April 16, 2020:

Reported speech is just a category in English Grammar to get the sentences directly or indirectly

Usman Zafar on April 09, 2020:

If the reporting speech is having the reporting verb at it its start, then if is used in place of that.

I Could Not Understood It Please Help Me What Does It Mean?

Anonymous on April 07, 2020:

Thanks a lot, it was very helpful

Senimanjale on April 07, 2020:

The lesson is good because it teach us

Muhammad Rafiq (author) from Pakistan on April 02, 2020:

ډيره مننه احمد خان وزير چې تاسو زما مقاله خوښه کړه. مهرباني وکړه دا مقاله له خپلو ملګرو سره شريک کړه. مننه!

Ahmad Khan Wazire on April 02, 2020:

A precise and Meaningfull Substances relating to direct and Indirect narration@Thank U sir Alot As Such Sites are hardly available which can lead U soon to a great thoughts out of critical juncture.

Soman jan on April 01, 2020:

Thank u so much.... It is very usefull and easy.... Jazak Allah❤❤

Junaid Ahmad khan on March 30, 2020:

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

nirakar sagar on March 28, 2020:

it was nice informative thanks

Amit on March 26, 2020:

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

rajni on March 24, 2020:

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.

mehak on March 23, 2020:

its helpful

Yasir on March 23, 2020:

Thank you

Muhammad Rafiq (author) from Pakistan on March 18, 2020:

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

Muhammad Rafiq (author) from Pakistan on March 18, 2020:

Thanks Karzai for your comments.

Related Articles