Direct and Indirect Speech with Detailed Explanation

Updated on April 4, 2018
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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.

Reported Speech
Reported Speech | Source

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 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 i.e., “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.

Reported Speech
Reported Speech | Source

Key Terminology

During the process, you will come across many important terms that you need to know better so that to 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.

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, is called REPORTED SPEECH.

Reporting Verb:

Verb of the reporting speech is called REPORTING VERB.

Reported Verb:

Verb of the reported speech is called 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:

  • In case, 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 Reporting Verb is in Past Tense, then Reported Verb will be changed as per 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 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.

Changes in Tense
Changes in Tense | Source

Important Words 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 above-mentioned rules are mandatory for converting a Direct Speech into an Indirect Speech. Hence, they should be memorized thoroughly. The following examples cover all the afore-mentioned 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 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 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

Those sentences, which make a statement, are called assertive sentences. These sentences may be positive, negative, false or true statements. To convert such like 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.

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Imperative Sentences

Imperative sentences are those sentences, which 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, 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 such like sentences into indirect speech, follow the following rules along with the above-mentioned rules:

  • 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.

  • Reporting Verb is changed according to Reported Speech into 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.

  • Reporting Verb is changed according to Reported Speech into ADVISE in case the sentence gives an 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.

  • 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.

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:

  • Reporting Verb SAID To is changed into ASKED.
  • If Reporting Speech is having 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.
  • Full Stop is placed at the end of the sentence instead of 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 says to me, “Why have you got late?”
Rashid says to me why I had got late.

Exclamatory Sentences

Those sentences, which express our feelings and emotions, are called exclamatory sentences. Mark of exclamation is used at the end of 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, aha 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 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 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.

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© 2014 Muhammad Rafiq

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      9 days ago

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      12 days ago

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      3 weeks ago

      It's the best way to learn the english grammar.

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      Robin Raju,From Kerala 

      3 weeks ago

      Very helpful .Thanks Rafiq ...

    • Rafiq23 profile imageAUTHOR

      Muhammad Rafiq 

      3 weeks ago from Pakistan

      You are welcome!

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      Muhammad Rafiq 

      3 weeks ago from Pakistan

      Thanks for your comments!

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      ALA 

      3 weeks ago

      That was awesome.Pretty helpful for my exam!!

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      Muhammad Rafiq 

      4 weeks ago from Pakistan

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

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      4 weeks ago

      It's truly helpful

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      4 weeks ago

      Very good lesson.thanks a lot

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      arka 

      5 weeks ago

      What would

      He will say “There is no age limit for learning."

      Be in indirect speech

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      Jalaldin kakar 

      5 weeks ago

      Plese help me change this sentences in indirect.

      Hard working is the key to success.

      2. I am strong enough to compete him.

      3. Donald Trump and Kim J have fixed meeting in washington

      4. I don't have authority to permit you for this work

      5. China will defeat the united states in economic field.

      6. Pakistan may have the potential to become Asian tiger under CPEC.

      7. I can do this work.

      8. We shall play this game.

      9. Pakistan won't want more skirmishes with India.

      10. I shall not compare my self with him.

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      jeewa 

      5 weeks ago

      an very good lesson ..Thanks

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      Amrita 

      6 weeks ago

      It is very good

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      Saurav sharma 

      6 weeks ago

      This is very nice and important subject for students I love to learn English grammar thanks

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      Nisha 

      6 weeks ago

      Who teach you ...how to convert it in indirect speech

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      arshad ul haq 

      6 weeks ago

      thank you sir, you are great

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      vimala 

      7 weeks ago

      aAm glad to be part of it thank you

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      7 weeks ago

      I love to learn English language l want to learn more topics to learn grammar

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      2 months ago

      thanks watching for video

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      Tyson 

      2 months ago

      You are to good

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      Dhanush 

      2 months ago

      Excellent

    • Rafiq23 profile imageAUTHOR

      Muhammad Rafiq 

      2 months ago from Pakistan

      You are welcome!

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      Nina 

      2 months ago

      Very helpful, thank you !

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      Mohd Umar 

      2 months ago

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      Osheena 

      2 months ago

      It helped a lot

      The explanations r damn useful

      Awesome website

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      Zoya 

      2 months ago

      thanks it helped alot in my exam

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      Ashok jawlkar 

      2 months ago

      Thanks for this useful explanation.

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      Zeinab fakih 

      2 months ago

      it's really beneficial site. please convert this from indirect to direct :Sara wanted to know whether her neighbor's husband visited doctors before.

    • Rafiq23 profile imageAUTHOR

      Muhammad Rafiq 

      2 months ago from Pakistan

      The teacher said that he had turned 40 that year.

    • profile image

      Pancham 

      2 months ago

      Convert into indirect speech...

      The teacher said,"I have turned 40 this year."

    • profile image

      IMMS HAFENI 

      2 months ago

      That;s a nice part of grammar need to be taught by teachers

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      aaaaaa 

      3 months ago

      Nice

    • Rafiq23 profile imageAUTHOR

      Muhammad Rafiq 

      3 months ago from Pakistan

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

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      XXXTENTACION 

      3 months ago

      I learned grammar with the help of this website,which now, I use In my songs ❤️

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      Unknow 

      3 months ago

      Hahahahahahahahahahha

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      Xxxtentension 

      3 months ago

      Nice website

    • Rafiq23 profile imageAUTHOR

      Muhammad Rafiq 

      3 months ago from Pakistan

      Thanks for your comments. I'm glad it helped you.

    • Rafiq23 profile imageAUTHOR

      Muhammad Rafiq 

      3 months ago from Pakistan

      Thanks for your comments. I'm glad it helped you.

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      unknow 

      3 months ago

      good wow

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      Unknow 

      3 months ago

      This website is amazing it really helped me a lot once again amazing website

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      Asif Gillani 

      3 months ago

      this site is wonderful for learning

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      Yashaswi 

      3 months ago

      Superb

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      Akshit 

      3 months ago

      Good

    • profile image

      Charles Russell 

      3 months ago

      The following sentence, from above, has no subject. Omitting a sentence's subject is, in this case, a horrible error. "In grammar, when you report someone else’s statement in your own words without any change in the meaning of the statement is called indirect speech."

    • profile image

      Charles Russell 

      3 months ago

      In grammar, when you report someone else’s statement in your own words without any change in the meaning of the statement is called indirect speech.

    • profile image

      Kritika 

      3 months ago

      Superb... i got understood clearly

      It helped me a lot...

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      Jai indra reddy 

      4 months ago

      Nice

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      Sulu 

      4 months ago

      Thank you ...this website help me so much ...full description is there and it is enough for me....thank you so much ...

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      Kodi 

      4 months ago

      Thank you it gives me a detailed reference of direct & indirect speech

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      Rimsha Rafique 

      4 months ago

      Thank you for my help

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      THE BOSS 

      4 months ago

      nice :)

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      mckenzie 

      4 months ago

      thank u

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      Prasanna 

      4 months ago

      Good for revising

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      Sitara begum 

      5 months ago

      Thanks for giving me detail about direct and indirect speech

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      Arpit Shrivastava 

      5 months ago

      Thanks for the precious info and concept-clearance

    • profile image

      Adnan Saqib 

      6 months ago

      Bill Holland, would you mind to tell me how to change direct speech like this

      he said, "we have lost the match. Alas! we could not make to the final"

      he exclaimed with sorrow that they had lost the match and could not make to final. am i right?

      i'm a little bit confused about compound and complex sentences in narration

    • Rafiq23 profile imageAUTHOR

      Muhammad Rafiq 

      7 months ago from Pakistan

      Thanks for your comments. I'm glad it helped you.

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      Bhagya shree KM 

      7 months ago

      THIS IS VERY EASY AND SIMPLE SO WE CAN UNDERSTAND EASILY.

    • profile image

      Rashmi Patel 

      7 months ago

      Nice

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      aditi 

      8 months ago

      thanks for your help

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      Amardeep 

      10 months ago

      Thanks for this sir

    • Rafiq23 profile imageAUTHOR

      Muhammad Rafiq 

      10 months ago from Pakistan

      Thanks....

    • profile image

      nehu 

      10 months ago

      its great

    • profile image

      Akash kumar 

      11 months ago

      I want explanation of one thing..my friend said,"would you like to have coffee with me?"

    • Rafiq23 profile imageAUTHOR

      Muhammad Rafiq 

      14 months ago from Pakistan

      You are welcome!

    • profile image

      Harika 

      14 months ago

      Thank u

    • Rafiq23 profile imageAUTHOR

      Muhammad Rafiq 

      17 months ago from Pakistan

      Thank for commenting. I'm glad it helped you.

    • profile image

      M.A.Mustafa 

      17 months ago

      Great,it helps me alot.

    • profile image

      khizar 

      18 months ago

      you are a brilliant teacher.......thank you muhammad rafiq

    • profile image

      MM chaudhary 

      18 months ago

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

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

      It's wrong routine does not change

    • Rafiq23 profile imageAUTHOR

      Muhammad Rafiq 

      2 years ago from Pakistan

      Thanks Nadeem Jan for your comments. I'm glad it helped you.

    • profile image

      Nadeem jan 

      2 years ago

      really helpful sir and of course it is something that i needed the most to learn

      so thank you so much for teaching this to us

    • Rafiq23 profile imageAUTHOR

      Muhammad Rafiq 

      3 years ago from Pakistan

      Thanks Rana Imran! Have a níce day!

    • profile image

      Rana Imran 

      3 years ago

      Nice job sir

    • Rafiq23 profile imageAUTHOR

      Muhammad Rafiq 

      4 years ago from Pakistan

      Thanks FlourishAnyway for your valuable comments. Have a nice time!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 

      4 years ago from USA

      I'd always loved grammar and language. I find that assertive and direct speech works best in some situations while in certain cases (e.g., de-escalating conflict) less direct methods can be helpful. Thanks for the review.

    • Rafiq23 profile imageAUTHOR

      Muhammad Rafiq 

      4 years ago from Pakistan

      Thanks Bill for your encouragement and comments. I am glad you liked it. Have a nice Sunday!

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 

      4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      It is always good to review the rules of grammar. I know it is for me. Thank you for the lesson this Sunday morning.

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