Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Direct and Indirect speech - English Grammer- with example and exercise

Direct and indirect speech

Words actually spoken by a person are referred to as direct speech. If we want to repeat the exact words said by a speaker, we use quotation marks to enclose those very words. Thus direct speech should begin and end with quotation marks or inverted commas (“....”).

There are certain changes that happen when converting direct to indirect speech:
1. use a connecting word (e.g.) ‘that’ for declaratives, ‘if’ for verb questions, etc.
2. change the subject (pronouns) and the related personal/ possessive pronouns.
3. change the tense form of the spoken sentence.
4. change a few words like ‘this’ to ‘that’, ‘here’ to ‘there’, ’now’ to ‘then’, etc.

The introductory word in indirect speech is generally in the past tense (e.g. said). Therefore the tense of the verbs in the direct speech has to be changed accordingly.


1. He said, “I will be in New York on Sunday.” (Direct)
He said that he would be in New York on Sunday. (Indirect)
2. “I wrote to her yesterday,” she said. (Direct)
She said that she had written to her the previous day (Indirect)

A question in direct speech becomes an affirmative statement in indirect speech. Hence, the question mark (?) disappears, along with the quotation marks (“ “).

1. Neha said to him, “Are you going to China by ship?” (Direct)
Neha asked him if he was going to China by ship. (Indirect)
2. He said to me, “When will you go to Kashmir?” (Direct)
He enquired when I would go to Kashmir. (Indirect)

Requests, commands, orders, advice.

While changing the direct to indirect speech the
words can be used instead of “asked” or “said”:

‘requested’, ‘prayed’, ‘entreated’, ‘implored’, ‘invited’
’recommended’, ‘urged’, ‘begged’, ‘commanded’, ‘ordered’, ‘told’
’advised’, ‘reminded’, according to the needs of the context.

e.g. “Please pass the sugar,” he said. (Direct)
He requested me to pass the sugar. (indirect)
“Go and shut the door,” my father said. (Direct)
My father ordered me to shut the door. (Indirect)
“You should consult your teacher,” her mother said. (Direct)
Her mother advised her to consult her teacher. (Indirect)

For exclamations in the direct, the introductory verbs in the
indirect would be the following:
‘exclaimed’, ‘cried’, ‘shouted’, ‘thanked’, etc.
e.g. “How exciting the journey is!” he said. (Direct)
He exclaimed that the journey was very exciting. (Indirect)

Exercise  1: Convert the following into indirect speech:
1. Raja said, “I am going to Ooty for the holidays.”
2. The doctor said to the child, “Open your mouth.”
3. The teacher said to the boy, “You should come to school on time.”

Exerceise 2: Change these sentences into reported speech.
1. ‘’Line up the patients for registration,” the doctor said to
the nurse.
2. ‘’Will you take their blood pressure?” he requested.
3. “Please separate the aged and children,” said the doctor.
4. “Call the X-ray attendant, please!” the doctor said.
5. “Please go through their files,” the doctor advised the nurse.

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