DIRECT AND INDIRECT – English Blog Direct and Indirect Speech
Direct and Indirect


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The article discusses the rules and regulations of how to tackle exercises on direct and indirect speech.


The words of a speaker can be quoted in two ways :

  • Pinaki said, “ My elder sister is going to get married.”

     Here the actual words of the speaker are quoted.

  • Pinaki said that his elder sister was going to get married.

     Here the words of the speaker are reported without quoting his actual words.


A sentence in which the actual words of the speaker are quoted ( as in sentence 1 ) is said to be a Direct Speech.

A sentence in which the words of the speaker are reported instead of quoting the actual words ( as in sentence 2 ) is said to be Indirect or Reported Speech.


Certain grammatical changes are needed to be made while changing Direct Speech into Indirect Speech.

Given below are rules that need to be followed while changing from Direct to Indirect Speech.

RULE 1 of direct and indirect: Reporting Verb is in the Present or Future Tense. The tense of the verb in the Reported Speech does not change.

Direct: The old man says, “ There are evil spirits in my bungalow.”

Indirect: The old man says that they are evil spirits in his bungalow.

RULE 2: The Principal Verb is in the Past Tense. The tense of the been in the Reported Speech changes to the Past Tense in direct and indirect. 

  • In the Indirect or Reported Speech the Present Tense changes to their corresponding form.
    Table 1
Shall Changes to Should
Will Changes to Would
May Changes to Might
Can Changes to Could
Go Changes to Went
Is going Changes to Was  going
Has gone Changes to Had gone
Has been going Changes to Had been going

Direct : Trina said, “ Mainak shall go.”

Indirect: Trina said that Mainak should go.

  • The Simple Past Tense in the Direct Speech changes to the Past Perfect in the Indirect Speech in direct and indirect :

Direct: The watchman said, “ Burglars broke into Mr. Pakhiwala’s shop last night.”

Indirect: The watchman said that burglars had broken into Mr. Pakhiwala’s shop the previous night. ( Past Perfect )


  • Past Continuous Tense in the Direct Speech changes to Past Perfect Continuous Tense in the Indirect Speech :

Direct: He said, “Rehman was painting.”

Indirect: He said that Rahman had been painting.

N.B. An exception to Rule 2 in direct and indirect speech.

If the Reported Speech expresses universal truth or habitual fact, the tense of the Reported Speech is not changed into the corresponding Past :

Direct: Eratosthenes proved, “ The earth is round.”

Indirect: Eratosthenes proved that the earth is round.


RULE 3: 

Table 2

I Becomes He / She
You (singular) Becomes He / She
My Becomes His / Her
Your (singular) Becomes His / Her
We Becomes They
You (plural) Becomes They
Our Becomes Their
Your (plural) Becomes Their


N.B.If the person addressed reports the speech, the Second Person is changed to First Person.

Direct : The old man said to me, “ You are kind.”

Indirect : The old man said to me that I was kind.


RULE 4: Words that express nearness change into words that express distance.

Direct and Indirect Speech Table 3

This   Becomes That
These   Becomes Those
Here   Becomes There
Hence   Becomes Thence
Thus   Becomes So
Now   Becomes Then
Ago   Becomes Before
Today   Becomes That day
Tomorrow   Becomes Next day
Yesterday   Becomes Previous day
Last night   Becomes Previous night
Come   Becomes Go


Direct : Mr. Mullick said, “ I am going out for a meeting now.”

Indirect : Mr. Mullick said that he was going out for a meeting then.

 RULE 5 of direct and indirect: Present Tense Transformation of Sentence


Direct: The judge said to the contestant,“ You sing very melodiously.”

Indirect: The judge told the contestant that she sang very melodiously.



  • The Introductory Verb has to be changed to asked, inquired, demanded, and such.
  • Whenever the Direct Question requires one of two answers ( yes or no ), the words whether or if is used after the Introductory Verb in the Reported Speech.
  • The Interrogative sign ( Question mark ) which is positioned after Questions in the Direct form changes to a full stop in the Indirect or the Reported form.

Direct : Ramtanu said to me, “ Do you know me?”

Indirect : Ramtanu inquired of me if I knew him.


  • IMPERATIVE SENTENCES in Direct and Indirect Speech 


  • The Introductory Verb changes into words like request, implore, advise, beg, threaten, order, and so on.
  • The Verb that is in the Reported Speech is changed in the Infinitive form.

Direct: She said to the students, “ Do not shout so much.”

Indirect: She forbade the students to shout so much.

Direct: She said to the attendant, “ Leave my house at once.”

Indirect: She ordered her attendant to leave her house at once.


SENTENCES WITH THE WORD ‘LET’  in Direct and Indirect Speech:                                            

We use the word ‘Let’ in Direct Speech to express a suggestion or a proposal. We change the Reporting Verb into ‘suggest or propose’.

Direct : Gogol said to us, “ Let us go for a long drive.”

Indirect : Gogol suggested / proposed to us that we go for a long drive.


  • But in such cases when the word Let does not express a suggestion or a proposal it need to be changed into might or might be allowed, or some such words that goes with the sense of the sentence.

Direct : Rimpi said, “ Let me have some juice.”

Indirect : Rimpi wished that she might have some juice.

Direct : Jennifer said to her friend, “ Let me finish my project, please.”

Indirect : Jennifer requested her friends that she might be allowed to finish her project.



Direct and Indirect Speech rules:

  • The Introductory Verb changes into declare, cry, bless, wish, exclaim, pray and so on with such phrases like with delight, with joy, with regret, with sorrow, where needed.
  • In case of Interjections and Exclamations such as oh, well, alas, hurrah, curse it, bravo are omitted and the sense of such Interjections and exclamations are expressed by means of phrases.

Direct :“ What a terrible sight it is!” they said.

Indirect : They explained with horror that it was a terrible sight.

Direct : He said, “ Alas! How silly I have been!”

Indirect : He confessed with regret that he had been very silly.

Table 4

Yes” Changes to He / she agreed
“Hello” Changes to He / she greeted
“Please” Changes to He / she requested
“No” Changes to He / she refused
“Careful” Changes to He / she warned
“Good gracious” Changes to He / she was surprised
“Bad luck” Changes to He / she sympathised
“For God’s sake” Changes to He / she exclaimed
“Damn it” Changes to He / she swore






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