English Grammar: Direct - Indirect Speech

English Grammar: Direct-Indirect Speech

English Grammar: Direct - Indirect Speech

Last Updated on Nov 1, 2020

English Grammar is important for our day to day use and as well as for exam purpose. Since is important for all the Aptitude Exams, we have created a series of blog posts covered under ‘English Grammar’. 
This blog post is also a part of our English Grammar series. For related posts, click here.

In this blog, we are explaining the topic ” Direct-Indirect Speech

The 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 the home, you will inform your parents in the following two ways:

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

Difference between 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,

  • She says, “What time will you be home?”
  • She said, “What time will you be home?” and I said, “I don’t know! “
  • “There’s a fly in my soup!” screamed Simone.
  • John said, “There’s an elephant outside the window.”

Indirect Speech: Indirect speech (sometimes called reported speech), doesn’t use quotation marks to enclose what the person said and it doesn’t have to be a word for word. When reporting speech the tense usually changes. This is because when we use reported speech, we are usually talking about a time in the past (because obviously, the person who spoke originally spoke in the past). The verbs therefore usually have to be in the past too.

For example,

She said, “I saw him.” (direct speech) = She said that she had seen him. (indirect speech)

Rules for converting Direct speech to indirect speech

Rule #1: Adverb of time and place
If the reported sentence contains an expression of time, you must change it to fit in with the time of reporting, and adverb of nearness should be put into those of distance.

Today  => yesterday/ that day
This evening  => that evening
These (days)  => those (days)
Now  => then
(A week) ago  => (a week) before
Last weekend  => the previous weekend
Here  => there
Here after   => there after
Next (week)  => the following (week)/ a week after
Tomorrow   => the next/following day
Thus  => so
Last night  => the previous night
Yesterday  => the day before / the previous day
Hither  => thither
Hence  => thence

For example,

  • Direct Speech: He told me today, “ I will go to Karachi tomorrow.”
  • Indirect Speech: He told me today he would go to Karachi tomorrow.
  • Direct Speech: She told me this week, “ we gave our exam last week.”
  • Indirect Speech: She told me this week, they had given their exam last wee.

Rule #2: Tenses

direct and indirect speech

Rule #3: Change in Verb

Change in verb in speech

Rule #4 Imperative

Change in Imperative Sentence


In this blog post, we have defined Direct & Indirect Speech, mentioned the key differences between the two and have systematically listed the rules related to Speech.
If you would like to check some more posts related to English, click on the links below.
Subject of a Sentence
English Preparation

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