» » Direct to indirect speech rules

  Direct Speech :

Quoting the exact words of the speaker is called “The Direct Speech”.
David said, “I am writing a letter now”.

Indirect Speech :

Reporting of what a speaker said without quoting his exact words is called ‘Indirect Speech’.
David said that he was writing a letter then.

Rules For changing Direct Speech into Indirect Speech.

Rule :1. The adverbs of nearness should be put into those of distance.

Direct Speech - Indirect Speech
now - then
here - there
this - that
these - those
ago - before
thus - so
to-day - that day
to-night - that night
yesterday - the day before (or)
the previous day
tomorrow - the next day (or)
the following day
last week - the week before
next week - the week after

Rule :2. Tenses.

  • If the reporting verb is in the Present or Future tense (e.g., say, will say) there is no change in the tense of the verb in the Indirect speech.
    Antony says, “I eat a mango”. (D.S.)
    Antony says, that he eats a mango”. (I.S.)

  • If Reporting Verb is in the Past Tense. the tense of the verbs in the reported speech or Indirect Speech must be generally changed.
1. Present Tense in the Direct becomes p.ast tense.
Johnsi said, “I write a letter”. (D.S)
Johnsi said that she wrote a letter. (I.S)

2. Past Tense in the direct becomes past perfect or remains unchanged.
Angel said, “I brought a pen yesterday”. (D.S)
Angel said that she had bought a pen the day before. (I.S)

3. Present Continuous in the direct becomes past continuous.
John said, “I am going to church”. (D.S)
John said that he was going to church. (I.S)

4. Past Continuous in the direct becomes past perfect continuous.
Nelson said, “I was playing cricket”. (D.S)
Nelson said that he had been playing cricket. (I.S)

5. Present Perfect in the direct becomes past perfect.
Kamal said, “I have done my home work”. (D.S)
Nelson said that he had done his home work. (I.S)

6. Present Perfect Continuous in the direct becomes past perfect continuous.
He said, “I have been reading a novel”. (D.S)
He said that he had been reading a novel. (I.S)

7. ‘Will’ and ‘Shall’ are changed to ‘would’.
He said, “I will go to London tomorrow”. (D.S)
He said that he would go to London the next day. (I.S)


may - might
can - could
must - had to (or) must
Johnsi said, “I must go now”. (D.S)
Johnsi said that she must (or) had to go then. (I.S)

Exception to the above rule:
If the direct speech contains the Universal Truth, the tense of the direct speech remains unchanged even if the reporting verb is in the past.

The teacher said, “The sun rises in the East”. (D.S)
The teacher said that the sun rises in the East. (I.S)

Statement (or) Assertive Sentence
Rules :
  • Remove the quotation marks in the statement
  • Use the conjuction ‘that’
  • Change the reporting verb ‘say to’ into ‘tell’
  • Change the reporting verb ‘said to’ into ‘told’
Note :
  • He said that (correct)
  • He told me that (correct)
  • He told that (Incorrect)
1. “I will work hard to get first class” said Lazar (D.S.)
Lazar said he would work hard to get first class. (I.S.)

2. “You can do this work” said Nelson to Johnsi (D.S.)
Nelson told Johnsi that he could do that work. (I.S.)

3. He says, “I am glad to be here this evening”(D.S.)
He says that he is glad to be there that evening. (I.S.)

4. “I‘m going to the library now” said David (D.S.)
David said that he was going to the library then. (I.S.)
Imperative Sentence (Order or Request)
Rules :
  • Remove the quotation mark in an Imperative sentence.
  • Use ‘to’ if it is an affirmative sentence. (without don‘t)
  • Use ‘not to’ if the sentence begins without Don‘t.
  • Don‘t use ‘that’
  • Omit the word ‘please’. Use the word ‘request’ instead of ‘say’.
  • If the direct speech contains a request or a command, the reporting verb (say, said) change to tell, request, order, command etc. In its correct tense.
1. “Don‘t talk in the class” said the teacher to the boys. (D.S.)
The teacher advised the boys not to talk in the class. (I.S.)

2.“Please give me something to eat. I am hungry” the old man said to them. (D.S.)
The old man requested them to give him something to eat and said that he was hungry (I.S.)

3. “Be careful” said he to her. (D.S.)

He ordered her to be careful. (I.S.)

4. “Bring me a cup of tea” said Nelson to Andriya. (D.S.)

Nelson asked Andriya to bring him a cup of tea. (I.S.)

Interrogative Sentence (Questions)
Rules :
  • Remove the quotation marks and question mark in the interrogative sentence.
  • Use ‘if’ or ‘whether’ if the sentence inside the quotation marks begins with a helping verb (Auxiliary verb).
  • Use the given interrogative word (what, when, where, why, who, whom, whose, which, now etc.) if it does not begin with the helping verb.
  • Don‘t use ‘that’
  • Changing the reporting verb (say, said) into ‘ask’ or ‘enquire’ in its correct tense.
  • Omit helping verb like ‘do, does, did’. But don’t omit them when they are with ‘not’.
1. “Won’t you help me to caary this box?” said I to my friend. (D.S.)
I asked my friend if he would not help me to carry that box. (I.S.)

2. Mohan said to Stalin, “Why did not you attend the meeting yesterday”? (D.S.)
Mohan asked Stalin why he had not attended the meeting the day before. (I.S.)

3.“How often do you go to the theatre?” said David to John. (D.S.)
David asked John how often he went to the theatre. (I.S.)

4. Mohamed said to Sultan, “Do you like mangoes?” (D.S.)
Mohamed asked Sultan if he liked mangoes. (I.S.)

Exclamatory Sentence
Rules :
  • Change the exclamatory sentence into satement or Assertive
  • Remove the quotation marks and exclamatory mark.
  • Use the conjunction ‘that’
  • Omit the interjections such as Oh, O, Alas, how, what, hurrah.
  • Add the word ‘very’ to the adjective or adverb if necessary.
  • If the verb is not given, use ‘Be’ form verb (is, was, are, were, am) in its correct tense according to the subject.
  • Change the reporting verb (say, said) to ‘exclaim joyfully’
  • Use ‘exclaim’ sorrowfully for sorrowful incidents.
1. “O, what a beautiful flower that is!” said she. (D.S.)
She exclaimed joyfully that that was a very beautiful flower. (I.S.)

2. “What a horrible sight!” we all exclaimed. (D.S.)
We all exclaimed that it was a very horrible sight. (I.S.)

3. “Alas! I have broken my brother’s watch” said he.
He exclaimed sorrowfully that he had broken his brothers watch. (I.S.)

4. “How beautiful she is!” said Boon. (D.S.)
Boon exclaimed joyfully that she was very beautiful. (I.S.)

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