Direct and Indirect Speech Rules and Examples

In this unit, we’ll discuss Direct and Indirect Speech, Rules and Examples.

Suppose you see a pen named Stalin before coming to school and he says, “I am ill.” You want to give this information to your people. You may either use the actual words spoken by Stalin or report in your own words what he said.

You may say:

  • Stalin said, “I am ill.” (Direct speech)
  • Stalin said that he was ill. (indirect speech)

When we use the actual words of the speaker we use direct speech but when we give the substance of his speech in our own words we use indirect speech. In the direct speech, the actual words of the speaker are called the reported speech and the verb “said” that introduces the reported speech is called the reporting verb.

The following points should be noted:

i) In Direct Speech:

  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.

ii) In Indirect Speech:

  1. Inverted commas are not used but the reported speech is generally introduced by the conjunction “that”.
  2. The comma separating the reporting verb from the reported speech is removed.
  3. The tense of the reporting verb is never changed.
  4. The question mark and the mark of exclamation are not used.
  5. The interrogative the imperative and exclamatory sentences are put as statements.

iii) Change of Tenses:

While changing direct speech into indirect speech the rules of sequence of tenses are follows.

Direct and Indirect Speech Rules

  • If the Reporting Verb is in the Present or Future Tense, the tense of the verb in the Reported Speech is not changed at all. e.g.

Direct: He says, “Saima is a blogger.”
Indirect: He says that Saima is a blogger.”

  • If the Reporting Verb is in the Past Tense, the tense of the verb in the reported speech is changed to one or the other of the four forms of the Past Tense as described in the table below:

Past Perfect and Past Perfect Continuous remain unchanged.

Will changes into would, shall into should, can into could and may into might.


Direct: He said, “I am a Cash of Clans player.” (present indefinite)
Indirect: He said that he was a Cash of Clans player.” (changes to past indefinite)

Direct: I said, “Priya Prakash Varrier is going to Pune.” (present continuous)
Indirect: I said that Priya Prakash Varrier was going to Pune. (changes to past continuous)

Direct: Azhar said, “It was raining.” (past continuous)
Indirect: Azhar said that it had been raining.” (changes to past perfect continuous)

  • If the Reported Speech expresses some universal truth or habitual fact, then the tense of the verb in the Reported Speech is not changed into the corresponding Past but remains exactly the same.

Direct: He said, “Mac is better than windows laptop.”
Indirect: He said that Mac is better than windows laptop.

Direct: Our teacher said, “Time and Tide wait for none.”
Indirect: Our teacher said that time and tide wait for none.

  • Words showing Nearness of time or place are changed into words showing Distance.

  • Change in Pronoun:

i) Pronouns of the First Person are changed into the person of the Subject/Speaker. e.g.

Direct: He said, “I like to read kindle now.”
Indirect: He said that he liked to read kindle then.

ii) Pronouns of the Second Person are changed into the person of the pronouns that come after the Reporting Verb. e.g.

Direct: He said to me, “You are not a genius.”
Indirect: He told me that I am not a genius.

iii) Pronouns of the Third Person are not changed at all. e.g.

Direct: He said, “He is a rich man.”
Indirect: He said that he is a rich man.

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