English Basics

Direct & Indirect Speech/Narration

Direct & Indirect Speech/Narration

Direct & Indirect Speech/Narration

English Language has two ways to narrate the spoken-words of a person. These two ways are as follows:

  1. Direct Speech
  2. Indirect Speech

These two ways are usually used to convey a message (spoken-words) of one person to another person. For example, you are at your college. Mr. David, who is your teacher, says to you, “I want to meet your parents’. When you come to home, you will inform your parents in the following two ways:

Direct Speech:               Mr. Atif said, “I want to meet your parents”. 
Indirect Speech:            Mr. Atif said that he wanted to meet my parents.

These two ways are also used to simply narrate spoken-words (have no message to convey) of one person to another. Here is another example. Suppose, you meet your friend, Mr. Ali, in a market. Mr. Ali says to you, “I bought a book for you”. When you come home, you may say the words of Mr. Ali to your brother in the following two ways:

Direct Speech:    Mr. Ali said, “I bought a book for you”.
Indirect Speech: Mr. Ali said that he had bought a book for me. 

Direct and Indirect Speech are also called Direct and Indirect Narrations.

Understanding Direct and Indirect Speech – Differences

Direct Speech: In direct speech, the actual words (with no change) of speaker are quoted. The exact words (or actual words) of the speaker are enclosed in Inverted Commas or Quotation Marks. There is always a comma or a colon after “said” that introduces the spoken words.

Example: He said, “I am going to School”

Indirect Speech: In indirect speech, the actual words of the speaker are changed. The reason for change in actual words is that the actual words have been spoken by the speaker in past, hence narrating it in the present will require change in the tense of the actual words. The pronouns of the sentence are also changed accordingly. 
The words of speaker are not enclosed in inverted commas or quotation marks. The word ‘that’ will be used before the spoken-words of the speaker.

Direct Speech: He said, “I am going to School” 
Indirect Speech: He said that he was going to school.

Converting Direct speech into Indirect Speech

Before learning the rules for conversion of Direct speech into Indirect Speech, you must learn the following two components of a sentence of Direct Speech.

Reporting Speech: The verb of the first sentence (i.e. she said, he said, she says, they said, they sayetc.) before the actual words of the speaker is called a reporting verb.
She said, “I am listening to music”.
He says, “You are an intelligent student”.
You will say, “I need your help”.

Reported Speech: The second sentence (actual words of speaker) that is enclosed in Inverted Commas or Quotation Marks is called a reported speech.
He said, “I got a job in college
She says, “I want to become a doctor
They said, “We play football in the playground

Basic Rules For Indirect Speech

Rule No. 1. Words of the speaker (reported speech) are not enclosed in Inverted Commas or Quotation Marks in Indirect Speech.

Rule No. 2. Usage of word “that”: The conjunction “that” is always used between reporting verb and reported speech in indirect speech.

Direct Speech: He said, “I write a letter”.
Indirect Speech: He said that he wrote a letter.

Rule No. 3. Change in tense of the reported speech: A change is made in tense of reported speech for changing a direct speech into indirect speech. If the reporting verb (or first sentence) of direct speech is either Present tense or Future tense, no change will be made in the reported speech for making indirect speech. Only if the reporting verb (or first sentence) of direct speech belongs to the Past tense, changes will be made in tense reported speech for making indirect speech.

Direct Speech: She said, “I am watching a movie”.
Indirect Speech: She said that she was watching a movie.             (Tense changed)
Direct Speech: He says, “I am playing cricket”.
Indirect Speech: He says that he is playing cricket.                            (No change in tense)

Rule No. 4. Changes In Pronoun: The pronoun (or subject) of reported speech is sometime changed according to the pronoun (or subject) or Object of the reported verb (first sentence of Direct speech). The possessive pronouns (i.e. his, her, my, their, your etc) may also change according to subject or object of the first sentence.

Rule No. 5. Change In Time: If there is time mentioned in the sentence of Direct speech, the time will be changed in Indirect Speech. There are certain rules changing the time. i.e. not into then, tomorrow into the next day, today into that day, yesterday into the previous day.

Direct Speech: She said, “I am buying a laptop today”.
Indirect Speech: She said that she was buying a laptop that day.
Direct Speech: He said, “I need your now”.
Indirect Speech: He said that he needed my help then.

Direct Speech: He said, “ I  eat two apples”. 
Indirect Speech: He said that he ate two apples.
Direct Speech: She said to me, “ I  like your book”.
Indirect Speech: She said to me that she liked my book.

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