There are two ways of reporting the words of a speaker. We can quote his/her speech exactly as it was spoken within quotation marks. This is called direct speech.


We may report the substance of what the speaker said without quoting his/her exact words. This is called indirect speech.


1. Changes in the tense forms:

a) Present Simple: If the reporting verb is in past tense, the present simple changes into past simple.

b) Past Simple: past simple changes into past perfect.

c) Future: Future Tense is indicated by the use of ‘will’ or ‘shall’. If the reporting verb is in the past tense, ‘will’ or ‘shall’ in the direct speech is generally changed into ‘would’ or ‘should’ respectively according to the subject.

2. Pronouns: The pronouns of the direct speech are changed as follows.

i) The pronoun of the First Person (I, we, my, mine, our, ours, me or us) of the direct speech changes according to the Person of the Subject of the Reporting Verb.

ii) The pronoun of the second person (you, your, yours) of the direct speech changes according to the person of the object of the reporting verb.

iii) The Pronoun of the third person (He, his, him, she, her, hers, it, its, they, their, theirs, them) or any noun remains the same in the third person.

3. Modals: Modal verbs, also called modal auxiliaries are auxiliary verbs or helping verbs. Modals express the mood of a verb, such as ability, possibility, necessity, or another condition. Some of the changes which are to be made while converting direct speech to indirect speech are,

a) Will  would b) Can  could c) Must  had to d) Shall  should 4. Time and Place :

a) In reporting a speech in indirect narration, words showing nearness are generally changed into words showing distance.

b) If the reporting verb is in the present or future tense, no change is usually made in the adverbs of time or place.

c) If the direct speech expresses a universal truth or fact, or a habitual action, the tense in the indirect speech is not changed.

5. Reporting Verb: Said, told, asked etc. are the most common reporting verbs used in indirect speech. When reporting verb is in present or future: no tense change. When we use present or future reporting verbs, the situation we are reporting has not changed, so there is no tense change.

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