Direct and Indirect Speech

Contents

 

8.Direct and Indirect Speech                                                                                      

8.1      Direct Speech

8.2      Indirect Speech

8.3      Rules for Changing Direct into Indirect Speech

8. DIRECT AND INDIRECT SPEECH

There are two ways by which we may report or narrate what a speaker said.

8.1 Direct Speech

In direct speech (Narration/quotation) the speaker’s exact words are given.

Example: John said, “I am trying for a job here.”

8.2 Indirect Speech

In indirect speech (Narration) only the substance of what the speaker said is given and not the exact words.

Example: John said that he was trying for a job there.

8.3 Rules for Changing Direct into Indirect Speech:

He said, “I write a letter.”

Said-Reporting verb

I write a letter.”- Reported speech

Rule 1: If the reporting verb is in the Past Tense, the Reported Speech (Indirect speech) also must be in the Past.

(a) Simple present becomes simple past.

Example: He said, “I write a letter.” (Direct)

               He said that he wrote a letter. (Indirect)

 

(b)  Present continuous becomes past continuous

Example: He said, “I am writing a letter.”(Direct)

               He said that he was writing a letter. (Indirect)

 

(c) Present Perfect becomes past perfect

Example: He said, “I have written a letter.”(Direct)

               He said that he had written a letter. (Indirect)

 

(d) Present Perfect continuous becomes Past Perfect continuous

Example: He said, “I have been writing a letter.”(Direct)

               He said that he had been writing a letter. (Indirect)

 

(e) Simple past becomes Past perfect

Example: He said, “I wrote a letter.”(Direct)

               He said that he had written a letter. (Indirect)

 

(f) Past continuous becomes Past perfect continuous

Example: He said, “I was writing a letter.”(Direct)

               He said that he had been writing a letter. (Indirect)

 

(g) Past perfect and Past Perfect continuous-No change

Example: He said, “I had written a letter.”(Direct)

               He said that he had written a letter.” (Indirect)

 

(h) Future tense becomes future conditional tense

Example: He said, “I will write a letter.”(Direct)

               He said that he would write a letter. (Indirect)

 

           Will is changed into would

           Shall is changed into should

           Can is changed into could

           May is changed into might

           Has/have is changed into had

           Am/is/are is changed into was/were

 

Rule 2: If the Reporting verb is in the Present or Future Tense the tense of the verb is not changed in the indirect.

Example: He says, “I write a letter.”(Direct)

               He says that he writes a letter. (Indirect)

 

Rule 3: If it is a statement, the conjunction ‘that’ is used after the reporting verb.

Example: He said, “I am happy.”(Direct)

               He said that he was happy. (Indirect)

 

Rule 4: The First and Second persons in the Direct speech should become Third in the Indirect.

Example: He said, “I watch a film.”(Direct)

              He said that he watched a film. (Indirect)

 

                     I (is change into) he/she

                     We-they

                     You-they/he/she

                     My-his/her

                     Our-their

                     Your-their/his/her

                     Me-him/her

 

Rule 5: If the person addressed to, reports the speech, The Second person in the direct becomes First person in the Indirect.

Example: He said to me, “You are a fool.”(Direct)

               He said to me that I was a fool. (Indirect)

 

Rule 6: Words expressing Nearness in time and place are generally changed into words expressing Distance.

Example: He said, “I am ready here now.”(Direct)

               He said that he was ready there then. (Indirect)

 

Now becomes then

This becomes that

These becomes those

Here becomes there

Ago becomes before

Thus becomes so

Today becomes that day

Tomorrow becomes the next day, following day etc.

Yesterday becomes the day before, the previous day etc.

Last-night becomes the night before

Next week/year becomes the following week/year

Last week/year becomes the previous week/year

 

Rule 7: To report Question in Indirect speech, the Reporting Verb is changed into ‘Asked’, ‘Enquired’, ‘Wanted to know’, etc.

Example: He said, ‘Who are you?”(Direct)

               He asked him who he was. (Indirect)

Form-Reporting verb + suitable object + Question word + subject + verb

 

Rule 8: If it is a Yes/No Question, then If or whether is used after the Reporting verb.

Example: He said, “Are you happy here?”(Direct)

               He enquired if they were happy there. (Indirect)

 

Rule 9: If it is a command, change the reporting verb to-told, ordered or commanded.

Example: The father said to his son, “Go and pay your fees at once.”(Direct)

               He told his son to go and pay his fees at once. (Indirect)

 

Rule 10: Negative Commands are changed into Indirect by not + Infinitive

Example: The Captain said to his soldiers, “Don’t return the fire.”(Direct)

               The captain ordered his soldiers not to return fire. (Indirect)

 

Rule 11: When ‘Let’ is used for some suggestion, the Reporting verb can be changed to ‘Suggested’ in the Indirect.

Example: He said, “Let’s listen to the music.”(Direct)

               He suggested our listening to the music. (Indirect)

 

Rule 12: To report an entreaty/request, the reporting verb is changed into, entreated, requested, begged, pleaded etc.

Example: The hungry child said, “Please give me some food.”(Direct)

               The hungry child begged them to give him some food. (Indirect)

 

Rule 13: To report an entreaty/request, the reporting verb is changed into, entreated, requested, begged, pleaded etc.

Example: The hungry child said, “Please give me some food.”(Direct)

               The hungry child begged them to give him some food. (Indirect)

 

Rule 14: To report a wish or an exclamation, the Reporting verb is changed into- exclaimed, praised, called to witness, applauded, blamed, desired, wished etc.

Example: The boy said, “How happy I am!”(Direct)

               The boy exclaimed that he was very happy. (Indirect)

 

Exercise for practice

DIRECT and INDIRECT speech.

1.  “If you don’t keep quiet I shall shoot you,” he said to her in a calm voice.

        (a)   He warned her calmly that he would shoot her if she didn’t keep quiet.

        (b)   Calmly he warned her that be quiet or else he will have to shoot her.

        (c)   He warned her to shoot if she didn’t keep quiet calmly.

        (d)   He said calmly that I shall shoot you if you don’t be quiet.

 

2.    The traveler enquired of the farmer if he could tell him the way to the nearest inn.

        (a)   The traveler said to the farmer, “Can you tell me the way to the nearest inn?”

        (b)   The traveler said to the farmer, “Can you tell me where is the nearest inn?”

        (c)    The traveler said to the farmer, “Where is the nearest inn?”

        (d)    The traveler said to the farmer, “Which is the way to the nearest.”

 

3.    I said to my brother, “Let us to some hill station for a change.”

         (a)   I permitted my brother to go to some hill station for a change

         (b)   I suggested to my brother that we should go to some hill station for a change

         (c)   I asked my brother to go to some hill station for a change

         (d)   I asked my brother if he would go to some hill station for a change

 

4.    He said, “I have often had told you not to waste your time.

         (a)   He said that he had often suggested to him not to waste his time

         (b)   He told that he had often told him not to waste his time.

         (c)   He said that he had often told not to waste your time

         (d)   He said that he had often told him not to waste his time

 

5.    “Are you alone, my son?” asked a soft voice close behind me.

         (a)   A soft voice asked that what I was doing there alone

         (b)   A soft voice behind me asked if I was alone

         (c)   A soft voice from my back asked if I was alone

         (d)   A soft voice said to me are you alone son.

 

6.     He said to her, “May you succeed!”

         (a)   He wished her success

         (b)   He said to her that she might succeed

         (c)   He told her that she might succeed

         (d)   He prayed to God that she may succeed

 

7.       He said to his servant, “Why are you so lazy today?”

          (a)  He asked his servant why he was being so lazy that day

          (b)  He asked his servant why was he so lazy that day

          (c)  He asked his servant why he was so lazy that day

          (d)  He asked his servant why he had been so lazy that day.

 

8.      Rajesh said, “I bought a car yesterday.”

          (a)   Rajesh said that he bought a car the previous day

          (b)   Rajesh said that he had bought a car the  previous day

          (c)   Rajesh said that I have bought a car the previous

          (d)   Rajesh told that had bought a car yesterday

 

9.     My friend said to me, “Has your father returned from Calcutta?”

          (a)  My friend told me that his father had returned from Calcutta.

          (b)  My friend enquired me if his father had returned from Calcutta.

          (c)  My friend said to me that my father has returned from Calcutta.

          (d)  My friend asked me if my father had returned from Calcutta.

 

10.     He said to her, “Are you coming to the party?”

          (a)   He asked her if she was coming to the party

          (b)   He asked her if she will be coming to the party

          (c)   He asked her whether she was coming to the party

          (d)   He told her if she was coming to the party

 

ANSWERS: -

1.(a)     2.(a)       3.(b)       4.(d)       5.(b)       6.(a)      7.(c)       8.(b)       9.(d)       10.(a)