February 26, 2008

Direct and Indirect Speech

Direct Speech - When we quote a speaker's actual words, it is called Direct Speech.

Indirect Speech - When we report what a speaker said without quoting his exact words, then it is called Indirect Speech.


Direct: Rahul said, "I am very happy today."
Indirect: Rahul said that he was very happy that day.

While changing the above direct speech into Indirect, certain changes have been made. They are as follows:

1) In Direct Speech, we have used inverted commas to mark off the actual words of the speaker, whereas in Indirect Speech, we do not use inverted commas.

2) The conjunction that before the Indirect statement is used.

3) The pronoun I is changed to he.

4) The verb am is changed to was.

5) The adverb today is changed to that day.

Rules for changing Direct Speech into Indirect

When the principal verb is in the Past Tense, all Present Tenses of the Direct are changed into the corresponding Past Tenses.


Direct: He said, "My sister is reading books."
Indirect: He said that his sister was reading books.

a) A simple present becomes a simple past
b) A present continuous becomes a past continuous
c) A present perfect becomes a past perfect

Please note that the shall of the Future tense is changed into should. The will of the Future tense is changed into would or should.

Also, the Simple Past in the Direct becomes the Past Perfect in the Indirect.

Direct: He said, "The cow died in the morning."
Indirect: He said that the cow had died in the morning.

The tenses may not change if the statement is still relevant or if it is an universal truth.


Direct: The teacher said, "The earth goes round the sun."
Indirect: The teacher said the earth goes/ went round the sun.

In reporting commands and requests, the Indirect Speech is introduced by some verb expressing command or request.


Direct: John said to him, "Please wait till I return."
Indirect: John requested him to wait till he returned.

In reporting exclamations and wishes, the Indirect Speech is introduced by some verb expressing exclamation or wish.


Direct: She said, "Alas! I have lost my parents."
Indirect: She exclaimed sadly that she had lost her parents.