Direct and Indirect Speech

Direct Speech

Direct speech repeats, or quotes the actual dialogue or the exact words of the individual.

Indirect Speech

When these dialogues are told by us to others in their (the speaker’s) own words, it is said to be in indirect speech.

For Example: She said, "I saw him." (Direct speech)

She said that she had seen him. (Indirect speech)

There are certain rules that are to be followed while converting the direct speech to indirect speech or vice versa.

1. The reported speech is put within inverted commas (“_”).

2. The first word of the reported speech begins with a capital letter.

3. The reported speech is separated by a comma from the reporting verb.

4. Inverted commas (“_”) are not used, but the reported speech is generally introduced by the conjunction ‘that’.

5. The comma is replaced by ‘that’.

6. The tense of the reporting verb is never changed.

7. Punctuation marks (? , !) are avoided.

Change of tenses:

1. If the reporting verb is in the present or future tense, there is no change in the tense of the verb in the indirect speech.

2. If the reporting verb is in the past tense, all present tenses of the direct speech are changed into the corresponding past tenses.

3. If the reporting verb is in the past tense, a past tense in the direct speech may be turned into a past perfect.

4. If the reporting verb is in the past tense, shall / will (future reference) in the direct speech is changed into should / would respectively, according to the subject.

5. The modal auxiliaries ‘may’ and ‘can’ are changed into ‘might’ and ‘could’ respectively.

6. Change of adverbs or words indicating time or place

a. Now  Then

b. This  That

c. These  Those

d. Here  There

e. Today  That day

f. Tonight  That night

7. Universal facts, laws, events, and habitual actions are not subject to change while changing the speech.

E.g. Direct: The teacher said, “The earth goes round the sun.”

Indirect: The teacher said that the earth goes round the sun.

Interrogative Sentences:

a. The reporting verb ‘said’ is changed into asked, enquired of, demanded, queried or some such verbs.

b. If the question begins with a verb or an auxiliary verb, the joining word must be ‘if’ or ‘whether’ instead of ‘that’.

Exclamatory Sentences:

a. The reporting verb ‘said to’ is changed into exclaimed, prayed, cried, blessed, wished or some other similar verbs.

b. Various interjections are converted into an adverb or an adverb phrase.

i) Hurrah! Aha! Wow!  exclaimed with joy

ii) Oh! What! How!  exclaimed with surprise

iii) Bravo  applauded / appreciated

iv) Alas! Ah!  exclaimed with sorrow / grief

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