Javatpoint Logo
Javatpoint Logo

Direct and Indirect Speech

There are multiple situations when an individual requires to explain an event or activity that occurred. However, this mostly necessitates re-stating what somebody said. These kinds of instances can occur in a social setting or in official mails or conference.

Direct and Indirect Speech

Two kinds of speech are employed to define/describe what somebody said: direct speech and indirect speech (or reported speech). Also, these depend on the kind of conversation - formal or informal.

In informal conversations, indirect speech is used, and direct speech is not used until and unless the speaker uses a quote.

For English learners, direct and indirect speech might be confusing. Let's define the terminology first, then learn how to speak about what someone said and how to change direct to indirect speech or vice versa.

You can reply to the enquiry, "What did he say?" in two different ways:

by repeating what was spoken (direct speech)

by reporting what was said (indirect or reported speech).

Direct Speech

The literal words uttered are re-stated or quoted in the direct speech. Whenever we utilize direct speech in our speech or text, we place the terms spoken in-between the quotation marks ("") and make no changes to these.

Through this one could be reporting something that is being said at present (for instance, a telephone dialogue) or informing somebody about a prior chat.

There is no commentary or annotation in direct speaking; the statements are taken straight from one source and conveyed to another. In simple words, we take the presenter's words directly and reproduce them exactly as he or she spoke them.


  1. Seema says, "When will you reach the office? "
  2. She said, "When will you reach the office?" and I said, "I can't say! "
  3. "There's a mosquito in my milk!" screamed Simmi.
  4. Jimmy said, "There is a camel outside the office. "
  5. Raj said, "I will work hard and become successful. "

The direct speech is displayed in quotations in these samples, indicating that it was taken straight from the original with no changes.

Direct and Indirect Speech

Indirect Speech

This type of speech is when you report what somebody has said in your wording without modifying the real message or meaning of what has been stated. Indirect speech is sometimes known as the reported speech. It is also known as indirect dialogue or indirect narrative.

Indirect speech, also called reported speech, occurs when we describe words or phrases in our own language. Instead of being quoted, the actual words are edited and/or interpreted.

We employ phrases that refer to something that has already occurred while discussing indirect communication. To do so, we use the past tense and summarize, amend, or synthesize what has already been spoken.

In order to show indirect discourse, reporting verbs are needed. The most frequent are:

  1. Says/ said (that )
  2. told me(that )

The term "that" is in the bracket and can be hidden or removed from the sentence- spoken or written.

Following are some instances of indirect speech :

  1. Asha said it was hot.
  2. She said he had been in Delhi since 2008.
  3. She said she had been learning guitar for three years.
  4. Raju said he would work hard to become successful.
  5. The general said they would win the battle.

Using the words say or 'tell. '

In Indirect speech, one must also employ the term 'tell' ('told' in the past tense) rather than the term 'say'. However, one must incorporate the object pronoun.

Often the term 'say' is employed when there is no indirect object:

She said that she was exhausted.

Whereas always use the term 'tell' when you talk about who was being spoken to (i.e., with an indirect object) :

She told me that she was exhausted.

As an example:

  1. She told me she was going to purchase a new suit.
  2. He told him that he would be on time.
  3. She told us you had already completed the order.
  4. He said that he was going to the marketplace.
Direct and Indirect Speech

Modifying Time Expressions

Whenever we use reporting speech, it is often important to adjust the time phrases particularly whenever speaking about the past tense and the reference to the timing no longer implies. As an instance :

  • Direct speech: "I'm seeing my mother today. "
  • Indirect speech: She said she was seeing her mother the same day.

Below are some of the instances of the same :

  • Direct speech: "I had a migraine today. "
  • Indirect speech: I said that I had a migraine today.
  • Direct speech: "It has been snowing since this morning. "
  • Indirect speech: She said that it had been snowing since that morning.
  • Direct speech: "They haven't met us since last Sunday. "
  • Indirect speech: She said she hadn't met them since the last Sunday.

Reporting Questions

When reporting a question, the interrogative form must be converted into a positive statement, with the verb tense shifted one step back, as with ordinary reported speech.

We can report two groups of inquiries: yes/no questions and inquiries that start begin a questioning term like 'what,' 'where,' 'who,' etc. When reporting a yes/no question, we use the word 'if.' As an instance :

Direct speech: "Does she reside here? "

Indirect speech: He asked me whether she resided here.

In the above- mentioned statement, the verb 'do' is removed from the reported form of the question since it is not a query anymore, and the verb 'reside' is changed to 'resided'.

For queries beginning with question terms such as 'what,' 'where,' 'when,' 'who,' and so on, we record the question but alter the interrogative type to the affirmative form. As an instance:

Direct speech: Where do they stay ?
Indirect speech: You inquired as to where they stayed.

Direct speech: "When are you coming ?
Indirect speech: She asked me when I was coming.

Direct speech: "How will she come here? "
Indirect Speech: They asked me how will she be coming here.

Most often we employ the verb 'ask' to report an inquiry. The verb 'to ask,' like the verb 'to tell,' is usually preceded by an object pronoun. However, it is permissible to omit it.

Orders and Requests Reporting

Whenever you give somebody an order, you utilize the imperative form, which signifies you use only the verb and no subject. As an example :

  1. "contact me later. "
  2. "Stand/ sit down. "
  3. "Do not do that! "

We utilize 'tell' and the verb's infinitive to report an order. As an example :

  1. You told me to contact you later.
  2. She told me to sit down.
  3. He told us not to do so.

While making the requests, you mostly use terms like 'can,' 'could,' or 'will.' As an example :

  1. "Could you please contact me back later? "
  2. "Will you like to sit? "
  3. "Can you kindly not do that? "

We employ the verb 'to ask' and the infinitive type of the verb to make a request. As an example :

  1. You asked me to contact you later.
  2. She asked for me to stand up.
  3. She asked us to abstain from doing so.

Now that you have seen how we utilize direct and indirect communication try it for yourself. Reading a brief narrative in English language or a news update or article on the phone or laptop is a wonderful and simple approach to analyse how these are utilized since the write-ups provide numerous instances of Indirect discourse/dialogue.

Rules for Transforming the Indirect Speech to Direct Speech

When converting indirect speech to direct speech, the below-mentioned suggestions/advices must be adhered to :

  1. Use the appropriate tense of the reporting verb, such as (say, said to).
  2. Before the sentence, use a comma, and the first letter of the statement must be capitalized.
  3. Depending on the emotion of the statement, use a question mark, quote marks, exclamation marks, and a full stop.
  4. Wherever possible, omit the conjunctions from the sentences. such as (that, to, if, or whether).
  5. If the reporting verb is in the past tense form in indirect speech, then make sure to modify it to the present tense in direct speech.
  6. As needed, modify the past perfect tenses to the present perfect tenses or the past tenses.

Consider the following examples :

Indirect: He asked if she was arriving at the special occasion.
Direct: He said to him, "Are you arriving to the special occasion? "

Indirect: The man said that he was pleased with her outcome.
Direct: The man said. "I am pleased with my outcome. "

Speech Conversion of Direct and Indirect

When transitioning between direct and indirect speech, there are three vital points that are essential to remember.

  1. Changes in Tense
  2. Person and pronoun changes
  3. Changes in Time Phrases

Changes in Tense

The tense of verbs does not significantly alter while transitioning from direct to indirect speech since if the conditions of what someone said remain the same, it may be recorded as such. As an example:

"I'm feeling exhausted fatigued" (= Direct Speech )

Present Continuous

She said that she is feeling fatigued (= Indirect Speech ).

Present Continuous

However, we frequently shift the tense when reporting on what was stated in the past. This rule is connected to back shifting, which is the practice of moving back a tense.

As a result, the present will return to the past. Some modals alter as well.

Here are some examples of how to use the indirect speech to direct speech :

Direct Speech: I wish to see you later.
Indirect Speech: She said she wished to see me later.

Direct Speech: You have to visit us in the evening.
Indirect Speech: Sheela told me I had to visit us in the evening.

Direct and Indirect Speech

Changing Pronouns

Pronouns in indirect speech must also be modified from what they were in the indirect speech, and the initial pronoun being adapted to match the person who made the sentence:

Direct Speech: I wish to see you later.

Indirect Speech: She said he wished to see me later.

Direct Speech: You must reach back home in the evening.

Indirect Speech: Sheena told me I must reach back home in the evening.

Changing Time Expressions

You may also need to adjust time-related terms based on the circumstances and while you are reporting the speech.

With these instances, one must believe that the discourse is being reported at a timing/period in the future. So, phrases like "yesterday" or "tomorrow" hardly make any sense in the case of an Indirect speech.

Indirect Speech: She said that he had seen him the day before.

Direct Speech: She said, "I saw him yesterday. "

Indirect Speech: She said," He will get the novel tomorrow. "

Direct Speech: She said he would get the novel the next day.


The structure of reported speech imperatives differs from that of other reported speech sentences.

The following are imperatives :

Commands: Be silent !

Requests: Please shut the door.

Advice: Go sit down.

Suggestions: Take the exams again next week.

Reported Speech Imperatives

Sentence structure in this case: reporting verb (e.g. ask, tell) + noun/pronoun + to infinitive

Example: He asked me to visit later.

Below are a some of the instances ;

Direct Speech: He said, "Keep calm. "

Indirect Speech: He instructed me to keep calm.

Indirect Speech: The professor asked me to close the gate.

Direct Speech: The professor said, "Please close the gate. "

Youtube For Videos Join Our Youtube Channel: Join Now


Help Others, Please Share

facebook twitter pinterest

Learn Latest Tutorials


Trending Technologies

B.Tech / MCA