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

Comments

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    • profile image

      333 

      10 hours ago

      Its good

    • profile image

      Hi 

      28 hours ago

      theres a typo erro

    • profile image

      Onyema chibuike 

      9 days ago

      Thank you very much

      I have learnt a good lesson from your article

    • Rafiq23 profile imageAUTHOR

      Muhammad Rafiq 

      11 days ago from Pakistan

      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.

    • profile image

      KarisChyoma 

      11 days ago

      Thanks

    • profile image

      11 days ago

      Thank you very much it was fantastic

    • profile image

      Mee Nge 

      11 days ago

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

    • profile image

      Zoha 

      12 days ago

      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.

    • Rafiq23 profile imageAUTHOR

      Muhammad Rafiq 

      2 weeks ago from Pakistan

      My girlfriend asked whether she liked horror films.

    • profile image

      Huma naz 

      2 weeks ago

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

      Indirect:- ???

    • profile image

      Pucchu 

      2 weeks ago

      Thanks

    • profile image

      Adhi 

      2 weeks ago

      It's very use full for me

      Thanks

    • profile image

      Apple 

      2 weeks ago

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

    • profile image

      grandhi nagendra 

      3 weeks ago

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

    • profile image

      edz 

      3 weeks ago

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

    • profile image

      JUNAID KHAN WAZIR 

      3 weeks ago

      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.

    • profile image

      Parvej khan 

      4 weeks ago

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

    • profile image

      Moin ansari 

      4 weeks ago

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

    • profile image

      HARSHA 

      4 weeks ago

      THANKS FOR LETTING US KNOW

    • profile image

      fareha ejaz 

      4 weeks ago

      nice it is amazing you did it so brilintly.

    • profile image

      shittu ismail 

      4 weeks ago

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

    • profile image

      MamidipelliRamu 

      4 weeks ago

      It helped me thank you sir/ madam.

    • profile image

      Sadia 

      5 weeks ago

      It's helpful

    • profile image

      Miracle Treasure Chisom 

      5 weeks ago

      It's very useful

      Thanks so much

    • profile image

      aayshs 

      5 weeks ago

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

    • profile image

      Subham 

      5 weeks ago

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

    • profile image

      Devansh malik 

      6 weeks ago

      Thank you

    • profile image

      Balaji 

      6 weeks ago

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

    • profile image

      kunbi oyedare 

      6 weeks ago

      Thank you so much for this detailed explanation

    • profile image

      What an excellent revision! 

      6 weeks ago

      Really useful revision

    • profile image

      Ronny 

      6 weeks ago

      It is very helpful and easy to understand

    • profile image

      Komal 

      6 weeks ago

      Thanks so much

    • profile image

      Moe Pwint May Lwin 

      6 weeks ago

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

    • profile image

      Goodness 

      6 weeks ago

      Awesome it is well explanatory

    • profile image

      Vanshika 

      7 weeks ago

      It is very helpful in my studies

    • profile image

      Nikhil 

      7 weeks ago

      Excellent!! Teaching.

      Very easy to understand step by step

      Thanks for this !!

    • Rafiq23 profile imageAUTHOR

      Muhammad Rafiq 

      7 weeks ago from Pakistan

      Thank you!

    • profile image

      diya stha 

      7 weeks ago

      I like it no i love it

    • Rafiq23 profile imageAUTHOR

      Muhammad Rafiq 

      7 weeks ago from Pakistan

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

    • profile image

      Freedom Mutanda 

      7 weeks ago

      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.

    • profile image

      Virendra singh 

      7 weeks ago

      Very nice guru g

    • profile image

      Bakana 

      8 weeks ago

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

    • profile image

      navyasree siram 

      2 months ago

      very good content and easy to learn.

    • profile image

      Hriday raj Biswas 

      2 months ago

      I like grammar very much

    • profile image

      Hriday raj Biswas 

      2 months ago

      I like grammar very much

    • profile image

      leeJake 

      2 months ago

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

    • profile image

      book worm lilly 

      2 months ago

      the text was great

      it was very useful

    • profile image

      Viren sharma 

      2 months ago

      I love Grammer so much

    • profile image

      Sunil H.Chavan 

      2 months ago

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

    • profile image

      Abhijith 

      2 months ago

      I got even scared after seeing this

    • profile image

      Deepann5th standard 

      2 months ago

      Super l don't under stand anything

      Now

    • profile image

      jill 

      2 months ago

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

    • profile image

      Santosh dange 

      2 months ago

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

    • profile image

      Unknown 

      2 months ago

      I hate it, just joking I love it

    • profile image

      hirosh 

      2 months ago

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

    • profile image

      Usman Zafar 

      3 months ago

      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?

    • profile image

      Anonymous 

      3 months ago

      Thanks a lot, it was very helpful

    • profile image

      Senimanjale 

      3 months ago

      The lesson is good because it teach us

    • Rafiq23 profile imageAUTHOR

      Muhammad Rafiq 

      3 months ago from Pakistan

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

    • profile image

      Ahmad Khan Wazire 

      3 months ago

      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.

    • profile image

      Soman jan 

      3 months ago

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

    • profile image

      Junaid Ahmad khan 

      3 months ago

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

    • profile image

      nirakar sagar 

      3 months ago

      it was nice informative thanks

    • profile image

      Amit 

      3 months ago

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

    • profile image

      rajni 

      3 months 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 

      3 months ago

      its helpful

    • profile image

      Yasir 

      3 months ago

      Thank you

    • Rafiq23 profile imageAUTHOR

      Muhammad Rafiq 

      3 months ago from Pakistan

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

    • Rafiq23 profile imageAUTHOR

      Muhammad Rafiq 

      3 months ago from Pakistan

      Thanks Karzai for your comments.

    • profile image

      Aanete Taurine Tarakia 

      3 months 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) 

      3 months ago

      A Beautiful colllection i have ever visited@

      V As a students love Such Things@

      "Realy Meritorious":

    • profile image

      Sarah 

      3 months ago

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

    • profile image

      Vijaya 

      3 months ago

      It is very helpful to me .

      I like it

    • profile image

      Felicia 

      3 months ago

      thanks

      its very explanatory

    • profile image

      BETEN 

      3 months ago

      THANK U

    • profile image

      Wubshet Bala 

      3 months ago

      A good explanation! I liked it.

    • profile image

      Smiley 

      4 months ago

      Tnx. This was so helpful

    • profile image

      Prince 

      4 months ago

      Thanks you

    • profile image

      Venkatesan 

      4 months ago

      Nice. very helpful to me to write my test

    • profile image

      Yaara Aafrin 

      4 months ago

      Very informative!!

    • profile image

      Naga neha 

      4 months ago

      It's very helpful

      I liked it a lot

      Thank you for this

    • profile image

      Pratinav 

      4 months ago

      Nice it helped me a lot

    • profile image

      Rahul 

      4 months ago

      Loved you presentation. It is very helpful

    • profile image

      Palak 

      4 months ago

      It is so useful for me

    • profile image

      chandra 

      4 months ago

      i want learn more .please more provide me sir

    • profile image

      chandra 

      4 months ago

      i want learn more .please more provide me sir

    • profile image

      THANKS 

      4 months ago

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

    • Rahma Fawad profile image

      Rahma Fawad 

      4 months ago

      This site helped me alot in learning direct & indirect speech

    • profile image

      Naziya 

      4 months ago

      Very useful tq very tq for information

    • profile image

      Karan 

      4 months ago

      They say to us."sita is a good girl

    • profile image

      Sheak munni 

      4 months ago

      We want tenses table plz

    • profile image

      Ramiz Raja 

      4 months ago

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

    • profile image

      Sakshi Singh 

      4 months ago

      Thank you very much

    • profile image

      Sangeetha 

      4 months ago

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

    • profile image

      Chirag 

      4 months ago

      Thank you

    • profile image

      Abubakar 

      4 months ago

      Thanks

      With this giant great lesson

    • profile image

      Amir 

      4 months ago

      Very helpful

    • profile image

      Tolessa 

      4 months ago

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

    • profile image

      Naif Rizwan 

      4 months ago

      Very helpful

    • profile image

      Gurhia 

      4 months ago

      She said,"You went there".

      Plz change the narration

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