Direct & Indirect Speech

Grammar Check: Online Basic English Grammar Test on Direct & Indirect Speech

English Grammar Tips - Direct & Indirect Speech

Learn Basic English Grammar: Direct & Indirect Speech. Tips, English Grammar Check with Test Questions and Answers

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Learning Pundits Content Team

Written on Sep 28, 2017 9:26:45 PM

Grammar Rules with 10 Tips on using Direct & Indirect Speech

Looking for Questions instead of tips? - You can directly jump to English Grammar Test Questions on Direct and Indirect Speech

What is Direct & Indirect Speech?

Direct Speech: the message of the speaker is conveyed or reported in his own actual words without any change.

Indirect Speech: the message of the speaker is conveyed or reported in our own words.

Example on Process of Conversion from Direct to Indirect Speech

a)    Direct: Radha said, “I am very busy now.”

b)    Indirect: Radha said that she was very busy then.

1.    All inverted commas or quotation marks are omitted and the sentence ends with a full stop.

2.    Conjunction ‘that’ is added before the indirect statement.

3.    The pronoun ‘I’ is changed to ‘she’. (The Pronoun is changed in Person)

4.    The verb ‘am’ is changed to ‘was’. (Present Tense is changed to Past)

5.    The adverb ‘now’ is changed to ‘then’.

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Tips on Direct and Indirect Speech:

Tip 1: Conversion Rules as per the Reporting Verb

When the reporting or principal verb is in the Past Tense, all Present tenses of the direct are changed into the corresponding Past Tenses.

a)    Direct: He said, “I am unwell.”

b)    Indirect: He said (that) he was unwell.

If the reporting verb is in the Present or Future Tense, the tenses of the Direct Speech do not change.

a)    Direct: He says/will say, “I am unwell.”

b)    Indirect: He says/will say he is unwell.

The Tense in Indirect Speech is NOT CHANGED if the words within the quotation marks talk of a universal truth or habitual action.

a)    Direct: They said, “We cannot live without water.”

b)    Indirect: They said that we cannot live without water.

Tip 2: Conversion Rules of Present Tense in Direct Speech

Simple Present Changes to Simple Past

a)    Direct: "I am happy", she said.

b)    Indirect: She said that she was happy.

Present Continuous Changes to Past Continuous

a)    Direct: "I am reading a book", he explained.

b)    Indirect: He explained that he was reading a book.

Present Perfect Changes to Past Perfect

a)    Direct: She said, "He has finished his food“.

b)    Indirect: She said that he had finished his food.

Present Perfect Continuous Changes to Past Perfect Continuous

a)    Direct: "I have been to Gujarat", he told me.

b)    Indirect: He told me that he had been to Gujarat.

Tip 3: Conversion Rules of Past & Future Tense

Simple Past Changes to Past Perfect

a)    Direct: He said, “Ira arrived on Monday."

b)    Indirect: He said that Ira had arrived on Monday.

Past Continuous Changes to Past Perfect Continuous

a)    Direct: "We were living in Goa", they told me.

b)    Indirect: They told me that they had been living in Goa.

Future Changes to Present Conditional

a)    Direct: He said, "I will be in Kolkata tomorrow."

b)    Indirect: He said that he would be in Kolkata the next day.

Future Continuous Changes to Conditional Continuous

a)    Direct: She said, "I'll be using the car next Friday.”

b)    Indirect: She said that she would be using the car next Friday.

Tip 4: Changes in Modals

CAN changes into COULD

a)    Direct: He said, "I can swim."

b)    Indirect: He said that he could swim.

MAY changes into MIGHT

a)    Direct: He said, "I may buy a house.”

b)    Indirect: He said that he might buy a house.


a)    Direct: He said, "I must work hard.”

b)    Indirect: He said that he had to work hard.

Modals that DO NOT Change: Would, Could, Might, Should, Ought to.

a)    Direct: He said, "I should face the challenge.”

b)    Indirect: He said that he should face the challenge.

Tip 5: Conversion of Interrogative

Reporting Verb like ‘said/ said to’ changes to asked, enquired or demanded

a)    Direct: He said to me, “What are you doing?”

b)    Indirect: He asked me what I was doing.

If sentence begins with auxiliary verb, the joining clause should be if or whether.

a)    Direct: He said, “Will you come for the meeting?”

b)    Indirect: He asked them whether they would come for the meeting.

If sentence begins with ‘wh’ questions then no conjunction is used as the "question-word" itself act as joining clause.

a)    Direct: Where do you live?” asked the girl.

b)    Indirect: The girl enquired where I lived.

Tip 6: Command, Request, Exclamation, Wish

Commands and Requests

Indirect Speech is introduced by some verbs like ordered, requested, advised and suggested. Forbid(s)/ forbade is used for the negative sentences. The imperative mood is changed into the Infinitive.

a)    Direct: Rafique said to Ahmed, “Go away.”

b)    Indirect: Rafique ordered Ahmed to go away.

c)    Direct: He said to her, “Please wait.”

d)    Indirect: He requested her to wait.

Exclamations and Wishes

Indirect Speech is introduced by some words like grief, sorrow, happiness, applaud. Exclamatory sentence changes into assertive sentence and Interjections are removed.

a)    Direct: He said, “Alas! I am undone.”

b)    Indirect: He exclaimed sadly that he was broke.

Tip 7: Change of Pronouns

The first person of the reported speech changes according to the subject of reporting speech.

a)    Direct: She said, “I am in ninth class.”

b)    Indirect: She says that she was in ninth class.

The second person of reported speech changes according to the object of reporting speech.

a)    Direct: He says to them, "You have completed your job.”

b)    Indirect: He tells them that they have completed their job.

The third person of the reported speech doesn't change.

a)    Direct: He says, "She is in tenth class.”

b)    Indirect: He says that she is in tenth class.

Tip 8: Change of Place and Time

Words expressing nearness in time or place in Direct Speech are generally changed into words expressing distance in Indirect Speech.

Now -- then                  

Here -- there

Ago -- before                

Thus -- so

Today -- that day         

Tomorrow -- the next day

This -- that                 

Yesterday -- the day before

These -- those              

Hither-- thither

Come -- go                     

Hence -- thence

Next week/month -- following week/month

a)    Direct: She said, “My father came yesterday.

b)    Indirect: She said that her father had come the day before.

c)    Direct: She says/will say, “My father came yesterday.”

Indirect: She says/will say that her father had come yesterday. (Here the reporting verb ‘says’ is in the present tense OR ‘will say’ is in future tense; hence the time expression ‘yesterday’ won’t change.)

Tip 9: Punctuation

The words that are actually spoken should be enclosed in quotes and begin with a capital letter

Example: He said, “You are right.”

Comma, full stop, question mark, or exclamation mark must be present at the end of reported sentences and are placed inside the closing inverted comma or commas.

Example: He asked, “Can I come with you?”

If direct speech comes after the information about who is speaking, comma is used to introduce the piece of speech, placed before the first inverted comma.

Example: She shouted, “Stop talking!”

Example: “Thinking back,” she said, “he didn't expect to win.” (Comma is used to separate the two reported speech and no capital letter to begin the second sentence).

Tip 10: Conversion of Indirect to Direct Speech

1.    Use the reporting verb, "say" or "said to" in its correct tense.

2.    Remove the conjunctions "that, to, if or whether etc" wherever necessary.

3.    Insert quotation marks, question mark, exclamation and full stop, as per the mood of the sentence.

4.    Put a comma before the statement.

5.    Write the first word of the statement with capital letter.

6.    Change the past tense into present tense wherever the reporting verb is in the past tense.

7.    Convert the past perfect either into past tense or present perfect as found necessary.


a)    Indirect: He asked whether he is coming.

b)    Direct: He said to him, “Are you coming?”

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Spot the Errors:

Each of the following sentences will contain a mistake in the usage of Direct and Indirect Speech. See if you can spot that mistake.


Direct: The boy said, “I’m happy with my results.”

Indirect: The boy said that he is happy with his results. (Incorrect)

Indirect: The boy said that he was happy with his results. (Correct)


Direct: She said, “I have baked a cake.”

Indirect: She said (that) she baked a cake. (Incorrect)

Indirect: She said (that) she had baked a cake. (Correct)


Direct: He said, “All people have equal rights.”

Indirect: He said that all people had equal rights. (Incorrect)

Indirect: He said that all people have equal rights. (Correct)


Direct: Roshni said, “I may meet him here”.

Indirect: Roshni said that she may meet him here. (Incorrect)

Indirect: Roshni said that she might meet him there. (Correct)


Direct: She says, “I will go to school tomorrow.”

Indirect: She says that she would go to school the day after. (Incorrect)

Indirect: She says that she will go to school tomorrow. (Correct)


Direct: He said, “She is coming this week to discuss this.”

Indirect: He said that she was coming this week to discuss this. (Incorrect)

Indirect: He said that she was coming that week to discuss it. (Correct)


Direct: He said to them, “Will you come for dinner?”

Indirect: He said to them will they come for dinner? (Incorrect)

Indirect: He asked them whether they would come for dinner.(Correct)


Direct: The teacher said, “Be quiet and listen to my words.”

Indirect: The teacher said them to be quiet and listen to my words. (Incorrect)

Indirect: The teacher urged /ordered them to be quiet and listen to his words. (Correct)


Direct: The old man said, “Ah! I am ruined.”

Indirect: The old man said that Ah he was ruined! (Incorrect)

Indirect: The old man exclaimed with sorrow that he was ruined.


Indirect: The policeman enquired where we were going.

Direct: The policeman enquired where are you going. (Incorrect)

Direct: The policeman said, “Where are you going?” (Correct)

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Direct & Indirect Speech

Grammar Check: Online Basic English Grammar Test on Direct & Indirect Speech



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