Direct and Indirect Speech Rules

Direct and Indirect Speech Rules | English Grammar


Introduction

Hello everyone, today I am glad to share an English grammar topic which Direct and Indirect Speech, in other words, we also call it Narration. In this article, you will learn about Direct and Indirect Speech Rules with examples. This is the first part of the topic and I will publish it into three parts. In part-1, I will share the Basics and some advanced rules of the topic so let’s start the topic.

Direct and Indirect Speech Rules
Image by Лариса Мозговая from Pixabay

Direct Speech:- It means whatever a person says to something to someone, then the speaker repeats his/her words same-to-same is called Direct Speech.

For instance:

  • He said to me, “John is singing a song.”

Indirect Speech:- It means whatever a person says something to someone, then the speaker tells the statement according to him/her.

For instance:

  • He told me that Smith was singing a song.

Let’s look at parts of a Direct Speech

  • John said to him, “Robin is studying English.”

In this sentence:

  • John- Subject
  • Said to- Reporting verb
  • Him- Object
  • Robin is studying English. – Reported Speech

You have read about parts of a Direct Speech, now let’s move the basic rules of the topic.

Basic Rules of Direct and Indirect Speech

  • Rule no.1:If (Object) is given in the direct speech after the reporting verb and (To) is also mentioned just before the object, then the Reporting verb will change according to the form of a sentence.

Subject + reporting verb + to + object, “Reported Speech.”

Say- Tell Say to + object-Tell + object
Said- Told Said to + object- Told + object
Saying- Telling Saying to + object- Telling + object
Says- Tells Says to + object- Tells + object
  • Rule no.2:- If (Object) is not given in the direct speech after the reporting verb, the reporting verb will not change.

Subject + reporting verb + object, “Reported Speech.”

For instance:

  • John said, “Robin is studying English.”
  • John said that Robin was studying English.
  • Rule no.3:- If the reporting verb is given in the present and future in the direct speech, tense will not change in the indirect speech.

For instance:

  • Robin says to me, “Jessica is playing soccer. – Direct Speech
  • Robin tells me that Jessica is playing soccer. – Indirect Speech
  • Smith will say to me, “David is learning English. – Direct Speech
  • Smith will tell me that David is learning English. – Indirect Speech

Important Changes when we change Direct speech to indirect speech

This That
These Those
Here There
Now Then
Today That day
Yesterday The previous day/The day before
Tomorrow The following day/The next day
Next (day/week/month/year etc.) The following (day/week/month/year etc.)
Last (day/week/month/year etc.) The previous (day/week/month/year etc.)

If Reporting is given in the Past, then

Direct Speech Indirect Speech

Will

For instance

  • John said to me, “Thomas will pass the job interview.”
  • He said to me, “Roman will go to the office today.”

Would

For instance

  • John told me that Thomas would pass the job interview.
  • He told me that Roman would go to the office that day.

Can

For instance:

  • Sarah said to Jessica, “David can do all the work.”
  • Sophia said to Emma, “Robin can play guitar.”

Could

For instance:

  • Sarah told Jessica that David could do all the work.
  • Sophia told Emma that Robin could play guitar.

May

For instance:

  • Henry said to me, “Alexander may pass this exam.”
  • Samuel said to me, “Sophia may complete all the work.”

Might

For instance:

  • Henry told me that Alexander might pass this exam.
  • Samuel told me that Sophia might complete all the work.

If Reporting is given in the Past, then how tense will change
Direct Speech Indirect Speech

Simple Present Tense

For instance:

  • He said to me, “Sam goes to college.”

Past Simple Tense

For instance:

  • He told me that Sam went to college.

Present Continuous Tense

For instance:

  • George said to me, “John is playing soccer.”
  • She said to him, “They are watching TV.”

Past Continuous Tense

For instance:

  • George told me that John was playing soccer.
  • She told him that they were watching TV.

Present Perfect Tense

For instance:

  • James said to Jack, “Robert has passed the exam.”
  • He said to me, “She has finished her homework.”

Past Perfect Tense

For instance:

  • James told Jack that Robert had passed the exam.
  • He told me that she had finished her homework.

Present Perfect Continuous Tense

For instance:

  • Harry said to me, “Michael has been learning English since 2016.”
  • He said to me, “They have been running for 2 hours.”

Past Perfect Continuous Tense

For instance:

  • Harry told me that Michael had been learning English since 2016.
  • He told me that they had been running for 2 hours.

Past Simple Tense

For instance:

  • William said to David, “Jessica told a story.”
  • He said to me, “Thomas went to the shopping mall yesterday.”

Past Perfect Tense

For instance:

  • William told David that Jessica had told a story.
  • He told me that Thomas had gone to the shopping mall the previous day.

Past Continuous Tense

For instance:

  • Robin said to me, “Sophie was watching a TV serial.”
  • Thomas said to me, “Patricia was going to school.”

Past Perfect Continuous Tense

 

For instance:

  • Robin told me that Sophie had been watching a TV serial.
  • Thomas told me that Patricia had been going to school.
Past Perfect Tense No Change in Tense
Past Perfect Continuous Tense No Change in Tense
If Reporting is given in the Past, then

Reported Speech/Direct Speech [Would/should/Must/might/could/used to/must/ought to/need not]–– Indirect Speech [No Change]

For instances:

  • David said to me, “Harry must pass the exam.” (Direct Speech)
  • David told me that Harry must pass the exam. (Indirect Speech)
  • I said to Lucy, “Jake might finish all the work on time.” (Direct Speech)
  • I told Lucy that Jake might finish all the work on time. (Indirect Speech)

If Reporting is given in the Past,

There are 5 conditions where we no need not change in Reported Speech.

  1. Universal Truth (Reported Speech/Direct Speech)
  2. Proverb (Reported Speech/Direct Speech)
  3. Historical Event (Reported Speech/Direct Speech)
  4. Scientific Fact (Reported Speech/Direct Speech)
  5. Habitual Action (Reported Speech/Direct Speech)

Note: We no need to change Tenses in Reported Speech for these conditions.

For instances:

  • Smith said to David, “The sun rises in the east.” (Direct Speech)
  • Smith told David that the sun rises in the east. (Indirect Speech)
  • Roman said to me, “Birds of the same feather flock together.” (Direct Speech)
  • Roman told me that Birds of the same feather flock together. (Indirect Speech)
  • Sarah said to Emma, “William goes to school daily.” (Direct Speech)
  • Sarah told Emma that William goes to school daily. (Indirect Speech)

Now you have read Basic rules of Direct and Indirect Speech and about modal verbs how to change a direct speech to indirect speech. Click here to read (Direct and Indirect Speech Rules Part-2)

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