Direct Indirect Speech: Comprehensive Guide

Dear Aspirants,

We are back with yet another topic from the English Language section. This week’s topic is: Direct Indirect Speech.


What are Direct and Indirect speeches?

There are two ways to convey or report a message spoken by a person; they’re direct and indirect speeches. Direct speech (reported speech), is conveying the words exactly the way it was spoken, whereas indirect speech is expressing the spoken words, or the substance of what was spoken, in your own words.

The words in direct speech that are within the inverted commas are collectively called the reported speech and the verb that introduces the reported speech is called the reporting verb (said, says, etc.). The reported speech always begins with a capital letter and is encoded within inverted commas and separated from the reporting verb with a comma. Whereas, in indirect speech, there are no inverted commas used and the reporting verb isn’t separated from the reporting speech.


Direct speech: He said, “I will go to the market.”

Indirect speech: He said that he would go to the market.

In the above example, the word ‘said’ is the reported verb and “I will go to the market” is the reported speech.


Types of sentences

Declarative: Makes a statement/Expresses an opinion (declaration). These sentences end with a full stop or period.

Example: “He is a good person.”

Interrogative: Asks a question. These often begin with a what, who, which, how, etc., and end with a question mark.

Example: “How is the weather?”

Imperative: These sentences make a request/give a command and end either with a full stop or an exclamation mark.

Example: “Please enter the room.”

Exclamatory: Expresses an emotion; joy, sorrow, excitement, etc. and ends with an exclamatory mark.

Example: “What a beautiful cake!”


Rules to convert a Direct speech into an Indirect speech
Tense changes

Present simple changes into Past simple


He said, “I eat every day.”

He said that he ate every day.


Present continuous changes into Past Continuous


She said, “I am doing my homework”

She said that she was doing her homework.


Present perfect changes into Past perfect


He said, “I have eaten a mango.”

He said that he had eaten a mango.


Present perfect continuous changes into Past perfect continuous


She said, “It has been snowing for 5 days”

She said that it had been snowing for 5 days.


Past simple changes into past perfect


Geeta said, “They went to the park”

Geeta said that they had gone to the park.


Past continuous changes into past perfect continuous


Raj said to me, “I was waiting to see you”

Raj said to me that he had been waiting to see me.


Past perfect – past perfect


She said, “I had eaten a pizza”

She said that she had eaten a pizza.


Future simple, ‘will’ into ‘would’


Chris said, “I will buy a chocolate”

Chris said that he would buy a chocolate.


Future continuous, ‘will be’ into ‘would be’


Ben said, “I will be catching a taxi”

Ben said that he would be catching a taxi.


Future perfect, ‘will have’ into ‘would have’


John said, “I will have eaten the pizza”

John said that he would have eaten the pizza.


The tense of the reported speech remains the same if the reported speech expresses a universal truth/a habitual fact.


The professor said, “The planets revolve around the sun”

The professor said that the planets revolve around the run.


If the tense of the reporting verb in direct speech is in present/future tense, reporting verb in indirect speech will remain the same.


1. She said, “I will buy the chocolate”

She said that she would buy the chocolate.


2. Bernie says, “I love reading books”

Bernie says that he loves reading books.


If the reported speech contains a time clause and the verbs (including main verb) are in simple past, the verbs remain same.


Mark said, “The moss was stuck to the boulder, until the gardener removed it”

Mark said that the moss was stuck to the boulder, until the gardener removed it.


If main verb is in simple past and time clause verb is past continuous, usually main verb changes into past perfect and the time clause verb remains same.


He said, “John ate when he was sitting in the class”

He said that John had eaten when he was sitting in the class.


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First person: First person pronouns are changed into pronouns of the same person as the person of the subject of reporting verb.


1. I said, “I’ve eaten the burger”

I said that I had eaten the burger.


2. You said, “I have finished my work”

You said that you had finished your work.


3. He said, “I have taken a shower”

He said that he had taken a shower.


Second person: The second person pronouns are changed into pronouns of same person as the object of reporting verb.


The librarian said to me, “You can keep this book with you”

The librarian told me that I can keep this book with me.


Third person: Third person pronouns generally remain the same.


I said to you, “She should not be in the garden”

I told you that she should not be in the garden.


The pronoun ‘we’ needs to be changed carefully. ‘We’ can either be retained as ‘we’ or changed to ‘you’/’they’ depending on the relationship of the speaker, the person(s) addressed and the one reporting the speech.


1. She said to me, “We should have gone to the fair”

She told me that we should have gone to the fair.


2. Tony said, “We cannot enter the park”

Tony said that they could not enter the park.


Interrogative sentences
  • When changing an interrogative sentence into indirect speech, change the reporting verb into words like, asked, inquired, wondered, wanted to know, interrogated, etc.
  • The interrogative should be removed and the interrogative form is changed to assertive form, i.e., the question mark is removed and replaced with a full stop.
  • If question begins with words like whose, what, who, which, when etc. no conjunction is used.


He said to me, “Is there something I can help you with?”

He asked me if there was something he could help me with.



Modals in present tense are changed into past tense.

Picture 1



1. She said, “I can climb that tree”

She said that she could climb that tree.


2. He said, “I may take up the summer internship”

He said that he might take up the summer internship.


3. Manu said, “I must take her autograph”

Manu said that he had to take her autograph.


4. Indirect speech for sentence having MODALS should, ought to, might, would and could

Picture 2



1. Ramesh said, “We would take the other road”

Ramesh said that they would take the other road.


2. Ajay said, “He could dance”

Ajay said that he could dance.


3. Mr Miller said, “His family might come”

Mr Miller said that his family might come.


4. Raj said, “I should buy a car”

Raj said that he should buy a car.


5. She said to me, “You ought to dance for us”

She said to me that I ought to dance for them.


Imperative sentences
  • Reporting verb is changed into a verb indicating a request, an order, forbidding, suggestion, proposal, etc.
  • The command in the indirect speech can be expressed through words like charge, tell, order, etc. whereas the requests can be expressed using beg, ask, beseech, implore, etc.
  • The conjunction ‘to’ is used, followed by the verb.
  • Words like persuade, incite, forbid, can be used according to the context of the speech.
  • The verb in reported speech is changed into an infinitive. The word “not” is placed before the infinitive if the reported speech is negative.


1. She said to me, “Help me pick this up”

She requested me to help her pick that up.


2. The doctor said to the patient, “Stay hydrated”

The doctor advised the patient to stay hydrated.


3. The teacher said to her students, “All of you should participate in cultural events”

The teacher urged all her students to participate in cultural events.


Some imperative sentences have the word “let” in it. For such sentences use suggested/proposed.


He said to us, “Let’s go to Goa”

He suggested us that we should to go Goa.


“Let us host a party”, said my friend.

My friend proposed that we should host a party.


Exclamatory sentences
  • Reporting verb is changed to exclaim with happiness/sorrow/fear/anger/etc.
  • The “that” conjunction is used to introduce the reported speech.
  • Sentence is changed into an assertive one.
  • Exclamations & interjections are removed, as they’re conveyed by adverbs or adverbial phrases.


1. “What a rude person!”, exclaimed my friend.

My friend exclaimed that that person was rude.


2. “How charming is this!”, said he.

He joyfully exclaimed that it was charming.


List of words and their counterparts in indirect speech

Picture 3


We hope the above article gives you a brief about the Direct Indirect speech.


Further reading:

Reading Comprehensive Guide

How To Approach Fill In The Blanks

Cloze Test [New Pattern] Approach

How To Solve Parajumbles


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