Direct and Indirect Speech

Direct Speech

Direct speech repeats, or quotes, the exact words spoken. When we use direct speech in writing, we place the words spoken between quotation marks (" ") and there is no change in these words. We may be reporting something that's being said NOW (for example a telephone conversation), or telling someone later about a previous conversation.

For Example: John said, "There's an elephant outside the window." Indirect Speech When we express the speaker’s words in our own words without changing the meaning, it is known as the Indirect or Reported Speech. For Example: She said, "I saw him." (Direct speech) She said that she had seen him. (Indirect speech) A few rules are followed while changing a sentence in direct speech into an indirect speech. 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. For Example: They will say, “We can’t do anything.” (Direct) They will say that they can’t do anything. (Indirect) If the Reporting Verb is in the past tense, all present tenses of the Direct Speech are changed into the corresponding past tenses. For Example: He said, “I understand.”(Direct) He said that he understood. (Indirect) Present Continuous Past Continuous For Example: He said, “I am singing a song.”(Direct) He said that he was singing a song. (Indirect) Present Perfect Past Perfect For Example: He said, “I have played well.” (Direct) He said that he had played well. (Indirect) Present Perfect Continuous Past Perfect Continuous For Example: He said, “I have been living here for a long time.”(Direct) He said that he had been living there for a long time. (Indirect) If the Reporting Verb is in the past tense, a past tense in the Direct Speech may be turned into a past perfect. Past Indefinite Past Perfect For Example: He said, “I sang a song.”(Direct) He said that he had sung a song. (Indirect) Past Continuous Past Perfect Continuous For Example: He said, “I was singing a song.”(Direct) He said that he had been singing a song. (Indirect) Past Perfect & Past Perfect Continuous remain unchanged. For Example: He said, “I had been singing a song.”(Direct) He said that he had been singing a song. (Indirect) 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. For Example: He said, “I shall write a letter.”(Direct) He said that he would write a letter. (Indirect) The Modal Auxiliaries ‘may’ and ‘can’ are changed into ‘might’ and ‘could’ respectively. For Example: He said to her, “You can lift this.” (Direct) He said to her that she could lift that. (Indirect)

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