6th Class English Voice and Narration Indirect Speech

Indirect Speech

Category : 6th Class

*     Indirect Speech


Definition: When the substance or meaning of a person's speech is presented, it is called Indirect speech.

  •   Steve said, "He will go to New York."
  •   Steve said that he would go to New York.

The two sentences given above refer to the two ways of reporting the words of a speaker. In sentence two, the actual or exact words of the speaker is not presented. But the substance or meaning of the speech is presented. The speech is called Indirect Speech.  


Remember it

  •   In Indirect Speech the words of the speaker are not put within Inverted Commas.
  •   A Conjunction is introduced after said. The comma and Inverted Commas are omitted.
  •   The Tense of the actual words of the speaker may or may not change.
  •   The Person used within Inverted Commas may or may not change.  


*        General Rules for Changing Direct Speech into Indirect Speech.

There are three general rules for changing Direct Speech to Indirect speech.

1. Change of Tense

2. Change of Person

3. Change of other parts of speech.  


*      Change of Tense

(i)   When the reporting verb is in present or future tense, the tense of the verb in the reported speech does not change.  





Direct : Juliet says, "It is four o'clock."

Indirect : Juliet says that it is four o'clock.

Direct : He will say, "I can solve this problem."

Indirect : He will say that he can solve that problem.  


(iii) When the reporting verb is in the past tense, the tense of the Verb in the reported speech is changed into the corresponding past tense as per the following table  

Direct Speech Indirect Speech
Simple Present                 Simple Past
Present Continuous            Past Continuous
Present Perfect                Past Perfect
Present Perfect Continuous      Past Perfect Continuous
Simple Past                  Past Perfect
Past Continuous                Past perfect Continuous
Past Perfect                 No Change-remains same
Past Perfect Continuous         No Change - remains same
Shall/Will                    Should/Would
Can/May                  Could/Might
Is/Am/Are               Was/Were
Have / Has                   Had
Was / Were                 Had been





Direct         :         He said, "he will buy a car."

Indirect      :         He said that he would buy a car.

Direct         :         Steve said, "It is raining outside."

Indirect      :         Steve said that it was raining outside.

Direct          :         Serena said, "The horse was running on the road."

Indirect      :         Serena said that the horse had been running on the road.  


(iii) When the reported speech is a universal truth, the verb of the reported speech does not change even though the reporting verb is in the past tense.





Direct   :                The teacher says, "The earth is round."

Indirect :              Theteachersaysthattheearth is round.

Direct  :                 Donald said to me, "The earth moves round the sun."

Indirect :              Donaldtold methattheearth moves roundthesun.


Note: "Says to" changes into "tells "and said to" changes into "told" in assertive sentence.


*      Change of Person

The three persons used in direct speech within inverted commas, change as per the following:

First Person                        According to Subject of Reporting Verb.

Second Person                  According to Object of Reporting Verb.

Third Person                      No change - Remains same  





Direct    : James said to me, "I am your friend."

Indirect : James told me that he was my friend.

Here "I" (First Person) of reported speech has changed according to

"James" (Subject) of reporting verb and "your" (second person) haschanged according to "me" (object) or reporting verb.

Direct : Serena said to me, "John will read the book."

Indirect : Serenatold me that John would readthebook.

Here "John", which is in third person does not change.



*        Change of Other Parts of Speech

Some words used in reported speech, which express nearness, are changed into words expressing distance as per the following:

Direct Speech                    Indirect Speech
This                               That
These                           Those
Here                             There
Now                          Then
Today                           That day
Tomorrow                       The next day
Yesterday                         The previous day
Thus                            So
Ago                              Before
Last Night                        The previous night
Next week                       The following week
Come                      Go




Direct         :         He said to me, "I will give you a pen today."

Indirect      :         He told me that he would give me a pen that day.

Direct         :         Maria said to Jonny, "I will go home today."

Indirect      :         Maria told Jonny that he would go home that day.

Direct         :         Seema said, "this is going to happen next week."

Indirect      :         Seema said that that was going to happen the following week.



*       Special Rules for Changing Direct Speech into Indirect Speech  

There are some special rules which are applied in the conversion of different types of sentences from Direct to Indirect.  

1.       Rules for the Conversion of statements or assertive sentence from Direct to Indirect.

(i) The verb "said" of Reporting Verb remains same and "said to" changed into told.

(ii) The comma is replaced by the Conjunction that

(iii) The Inverted Commas are omitted.





Direct :                  He said to me, "You are an intelligent boy."

Indirect :               He told me that 1 was an intelligent boy.

Direct :                  Steve said to James, "You must keep your promise."

Indirect :               Steve told James that he must keep his promise.


2.       Rules for the Conversion of questions or interrogative sentence from Direct to Indirect

(i) The verb "said to" of Reporting Verb is changed into asked or enquired.

(ii) The comma, Inverted Commas and Question Mark are omitted.

(iii) The sentence structure in the Reported speech is changed from Question to Statement.

(iv) When the Question begins with an Interrogative word (what, who, how, where, when, whom, which, why etc.) in the Reported Speech, the same is retained in the Indirect Speech.

(v) When the Question begins with an Auxiliary Verb in the Reported Speech, a Conjunction "if "or" whether is used in the beginning of the Reported Speech.





Direct      :            Steve said to me, "What is your name?"

Indirect   :            Steve asked me what my name was.

Direct      :            The master said to the student, "Why did you not come to school today?"

Indirect   :            The master asked the student why he had not gone to school that day.

Direct      :            Lina said to me, "Will you give me your pen?"

Indirect   :            Lina asked me if I would give her my pen.

Direct      :            Steve said to Smith, "Have you cleaned the room."

Indirect   :            Steve asked Smith the had cleaned the room.


3.      Rules for the Conversion of Imperative Sentence into Indirect Speech.

(i) The Verb "said to" of Reporting Verb is changed into "ordered", "requested", "advised" or "forbade" according to the sense of reported speech.

(ii) The Comma and Inverted Commas are omitted.

(iii) "To" is used as conjunction.

(iv) The word showing request (Please) is omitted.





Direct         :         My father said tome, "Open the door."

Indirect      :         My father ordered me to open the door.

Direct         :         James said to me, "Please give me your watch."

Indirect      :         James requested me. To give him my watch.

Direct         :         The doctor said to the patient, "Take this medicine once daily."

Indirect     :          The doctor advised the patient to take that medicine once

Direct         :          The boy said to me, "Don't buy this book."

Indirect     :          The boy forbade me to buy that book


4.       Rule for the Conversion of Exclamatory Sentence into Indirect Speech.

(i) The Verb "said" of Reporting Verb is changed into exclaimed with joy / sorrow / surprise / anger / applause / fear / contempt / regret, etc. according to the sense of Reported Speech.

(iii) The Comma and Inverted Commas are omitted and the Conjunction "that" is used.

(iii) Words showing Exclamations (Hurrah', Alas!, Oh!, Hi!, etc.) are omitted.

(iv) The sentence structure is changed from Exclamatory to Statement.





Direct         :         Roger said to me, "Hurrah! I have won the prize."

Indirect      :         Roger exclaimed with joy that he had won the prize.

Direct         :         The man said, "Alas! 1 am ruined"

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

Direct         :         The tourist said, "What a beautiful sunset!"

Indirect      :         The tourist exclaimed with surprise that it was a very beautiful sunset.

Direct         :         The teacher said, "What nonsense!"

Indirect      :         The teacher exclaimed with anger that it was an on sense.


5. Rules for the Conversion of Optative Sentence into Indirect Speech.

(i) The verb "said" to of Reporting Verb is changed into wished / prayed / desired / cursed, etc. according to the sense of the Reported Speech.

(ii) The commas and inverted commas are omitted and the Conjunction "that" is used.

(iii) The sentence structure is changed from Optative to Statement.





Direct        :           My father said tome “God bless you!"

Indirect    :           My father wished that God might bless me.

Direct        :           The man said, "Long live the chairman!"

Indirect    :           The man wished that the chairman might live long.

Direct        :           He said, "Bravo! You have played well."

Indirect    :           He applauded me that I had played well.

Direct        :           The man said to the beggar, "May you die".

Indirect     :               The man cursed the beggar that he might die.


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