direct-indirect-speech-1-728What is DIRECT SPEECH?

Consider the following sentence:

Rina said: “I don’t understand indirect speech. I need explanation about this lesson.”

The given sentence is in direct speech:

– The exact words of the speaker have been put within quotation marks ( ” ” )

– There is a colon ( : ) after ‘said’.

– The first word inside the quotation marks ( ” ” ) starts with a capital letter.

What is an INDIRECT SPEECH then?

Let’s take a look at the following sentence:

Rina said (that) she didn’t understand indirect speech. She needed explanation about that lesson.

In  Indirect speech:

– The quotation marks as well as the colon after said are removed.

– The conjunction ‘that’ introduces to us the words (not exact) spoken by the speaker. However, the latest trend is to drop ‘that’


Get one thing straight – you do not have to learn the rules by heart. Simply understand what they ask you to do and apply the same in converting a sentence from direct to indirect.


If in direct speech you find say/says or will say then DO NOT CHANGE THE TENSE that you can find within the quotation marks


Direct   : He says, ”I was a fool then.”

Indirect: He says  he was a fool then.

Direct   : She says, ”I will be more experienced then.”

Indirect: She says  she will be more experienced then.


If in direct speech the words within the quotation marks talk of a universal truth or habitual action then RULE ONE  is followed or in other words the tense inside the quotation marks is not changed at all.


Direct   : The teacher said, ”The sun rises in the east.”

Indirect: The teacher said  the sun rises in the east.


If there is ‘said’ in the direct speech then the  tense of the words inside quotation marks is changed to the past tense.


Direct   : I said, ”I am studying grammar.”

Indirect: I said  I was studying grammar.

Help List 1:

Words indicating nearness are changed into words showing distance

• Here –> there

• This –> that

• These –> those

• Today –> that day

• Tonight –> that night

• tomorrow –> the next/following day

• yesterday –> the previous day

• the next week –> the following week

• now –> then

Help List 2:

The following changes in the tense need to be considered

• Is/am –> was

• Are –> were

• Is (sleeping) –> was (sleeping)

• Are (sleeping) –> were (sleeping)

• Has/have killed –> had killed

• Was/were laughing –> had been laughing

• Can –> could; will –> would; shall –> should; may –>might

• Did –> had done


Direct   : I said, ”My mother cooks well.”

Indirect: I said  my mother cooked well.

Direct   : She said, “I am reading a whodunit now.”

Indirect: She said she was reading a whodunit then.

Direct   : He said, “I killed a spider.”

Indirect: He said he had killed a spider.

Direct   : We said , “They have done their job.”

Indirect: We said they had done their job.

Direct   : He said , ”She will do this task quickly.”

Indirect: He said she would do that task quickly.


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