Learn English Grammar Direct to Indirect-Reported Speech-Narration

Direct speech shows a person’s exact words. Quotation marks (“….”) are a sign that the words are the exact words that a person used.


Aavya asked, “Where are you going?”

Paridhi replied, “I’m going home.”

Direct Speech In direct speech, we convey the message of the speaker in his own actual words without any change to another person.Indirect Speech In indirect speech, we convey the message of the speaker in our own words to another person.  

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The art of reporting the words of a speaker is called Narration.

Verb tenses

When you report what someone said in the past, you usually shift back a verb tense from the tense the speaker used. We will go through some of the examples i.e.

Direct speechIndirect speech
I’ve lost my umbrella.He said (that) he had lost his umbrella.
“I’m not playing football.”“He said that he wasn’t playing football.”
I bought a car.She said (that) she had bought a car.
I’ll see you later.She said (that) she would see me later.
Jane: “I don’t like living here.” (Jane is referring to herself)Jane said (that) she didn’t like living here. (The pronoun she refers to Jane)
“I like this car.”He said (that) he liked that car.
“I went to Tokyo last week.”She said (that) she’d been to Tokyo the week before.
Jim says to you: “I don’t feel well.” “I can’t drive.” “My parents have gone on holiday.” “I’m going out now so you will have to wait until I get back.” “I’ll help you.”Later, you tell your friend what Jim said:   Jim said (that) he didn’t feel well. He said (that) he couldn’t drive. He said (that) his parents had gone on holiday. He said (that) he was going out now so I would have to wait until he got back. He said that he would help me.
I should go to the park.He told me he should go to the park.
I must study at the weekend.She said (that) she must study at the weekend OR She said she had to study at the weekend
I might be lateShe said (that) she might be late
  John said, ‘I am very busy now.’John said that he was very busy then.

Change of Tense and Modal Verbs            

Direct speech  Indirect speech
 Present Simple Past Simple
Present ContinuousPast Continuous
Present perfectPast perfect
Past SimplePast perfect
Past ContinuousPast Perfect Continuous
Past perfectNo change
Future (shall, will, will be )Secondary future (should, would, would be )
Future perfect (will have)Secondary future perfect (would have)
Will have beenWould have been
Modal VerbsModal Verbs
Can Could
May Might
Have to Had to
Must Must, had to
Here There
This That
Bring Take
Come Go

Pronouns, possessives and demonstratives

The changes required in pronouns, possessive adjectives and demonstratives are as following

Direct speechIndirect speech
Ihe, she
mehim, her
myhis, her, the
minehis, hers
ourtheir, the
youthey, them
yourtheir, the

Adverbs and adjectives

Adverbs and adjectives denoting time and place may have to be changed as follows:

Changes in time and place

Direct speechIndirect speech
 this that
now, at the present timethen, at the time
presentexisting, current
todaythat day, at the time
tomorrowthe day after, the next day
yesterdaythe day before, the previous day
agobefore, earlier, previously  
Next weekThe following week/ The next week/ The week after
TonightThat night
Now    Then

Key Points of Direct to Indirect Speech-“Reported Speech”

Direct to indirect speech is transformation.

  1. We do not change the “Meaning”
  2. We do not change the “Statement”.
  3. We do not interpret our own thinking/perception.
  4. Yes, we transform “statement”; “not the meaning”.
  5. Put “that” between the reporting and reported speeches.(it is optional to put “that” between the reporting and reported speech)

Basically we change three things

  1. Change of Time
  2. Change of Tense
  3. Change of Person
  • Reporting verbs
AdviseConfessInformPoint outThreaten
Direct speechIndirect speech
“I am hungry.”She stated that she was hungry.
“I saw them leave.”Aidan said that he had seen them leave.
“Where have they gone?”Felicite wondered where they had gone.
“Will you help me?”I asked Silvio if they would help me.
“I can’t remember your name.”Soungyoung said she couldn’t remember my name.


Direct speechIndirect speech
“Do they live here?”You asked me if they lived here.
Do you love me?He asked me if I loved him.
Do you like chocolate?She asked me if I liked chocolate.
Are you living here?She asked me if I was living here.
Will I see you later?He asked if he would see me later.
“Do you speak English?”He asked me whether/if I spoke English.
“Do you want me to come?”I asked him if he wanted me to come.
“Have you fed the dog?”She asked me whether I had fed the dog.
When we report questions, the subject comes before the verb. We report yes/no questions with if or whether. When we report questions with who, what or which + to be + object, the verb be can come before or after the object. The tense changes are the same, and we keep the question word. We need to change the grammar to a normal positive sentence.  
Direct speechIndirect speech
“Where are you going?”He asked me where I was going.
What are you doing?She asked me what I was doing.
“Why is he shouting?”He asked me why he was shouting.
“What do you want?”She asked me what I wanted.
“Who doesn’t like cheese?”She asked me who didn’t like cheese.
Where do you live?She asked me where I lived.
“Where do they live?”You asked me where they lived.
“Why” don’t you speak English?”He asked me why I didn’t speak English.
“When are you leaving?”He asked us when we were leaving.
“How will they get here?”She asked me how they would get here.
“Who is the champion?”She asked me who the champion was / She asked me who was the champion.
“What is your favourite colour?”She asked me what my favourite colour was / She asked me what was my favourite colour.


Two Types of Questions

  1. Questions: – that have a yes/no response

Points to be noted:- a yes/no question, we use ‘if’/ whether

  • Questions: – begin with a question word- ‘what’, ‘where’, ‘who’ ‘when’,
  •    Points to be noted: – change the interrogative form to the affirmative form sentence begin with Question word

Reporting Orders and Reported Requests

Direct speechIndirect speech
“Call me back later.”You told me to call you back later.
“Have a seat.”He told me to have a seat.
“Don’t do that!”She told us not to do that.
Close the window, please.Could you close the window please?Would you mind closing the window please?She asked me to close the window.  
Please help me.She asked me to help her.
Please don’t smoke.She asked me not to smoke.
Could you bring my book tonight?She asked me to bring her book that night.
Could you pass the milk, please?She asked me to pass the milk.
Would you mind coming early tomorrow?She asked me to come early the next day.
The man said, “Please, bring me a chair.”The man requested to bring him a chair.
Mother said, “Listen to your elders.”Mother advised me to listen to my elders.
To report a negative request, use ‘not’:To report a negative request, use ‘not’:
Please don’t be late.She asked us not to be late.
When someone ordersUse ‘tell’ instead of ‘ask’:
Sit down!She told me to sit down.
Go to bed!He told the child to go to bed.
Be on time!He told me to be on time.
Don’t worry!  He told her not to worry.
Don’t smoke!He told us not to smoke.

All of these requests mean the same thing, so we don’t need to report every word when we tell another person about it. We simply use ‘ask me + to + infinitive’:

For affirmative use to + infinitive (without to)
For negative requests, use not to + infinitive (without to).

When you make a request, you normally use words like ‘can’, ‘could’, or ‘will’. For example:

To report a request, we use the verb ‘to ask’ and the infinitive form of the verb. For example:

  • Modal verbs could, might, would, should, ought, had better usually do not change in reported speech. Modal Verbs:-No Change in Verb Tenses in Reported Speech
“I should go to the dentist.”He said that he should go to the dentist.
Direct speechIndirect speech
“Could you call me back later?”You asked me to call you back later.
“Will you have a seat?”He asked me to have a seat.
“Can you not do that please?”She asked us not to do that

If we report something which is still true, it is not necessary to change the verb.

Direct speechIndirect speech
“My car is bigger than yours.”He said his car is/was bigger than mine.

When we are reporting past tenses and we see the events from the same viewpoint as the original speaker, it is not necessary to change the tense.

Direct speechIndirect speech
“The earthquake happened at half past seven.”The radio said that the earthquake happened at half past seven.


Exclamation usually become statement in Indirect Speech.

Direct speechIndirect speech
He Said, “What a beautiful scene!”He exclaimed that it was a beautiful scene.
“Good”! he exclaimedHe gave an exclamation of pleasure/satisfaction.
Ah! I have finished the assignment at last!” She said.With an exclamation of relief she said that she had finished the assignment at last.
Thus! You may use giving with -/an exclamation of delight/disgust/horror/relief/surprise/etc. depending on the meaning of direct exclamation.                 
Mood of Sentence in Direct SpeechReporting verb in indirect verb
sorrowExclaimed with sorrow/ grief/ exclaimed sorrowfully or cried out
happinessexclaimed with joy/ delight/ exclaimed joyfully
surpriseexclaimed with surprise/ wonder/ astonishment”

Let’s/Let him

He said, “ Let’s have our lunch before starting the journey”He suggested that they should have their lunch before starting the journey. He suggested having their lunch ———-
He said, “ I cannot issue the certificate. Let the secretary do it”.He said that he could not issue the certificate and that the secretary ought to/should do it.
“ The student will complain”, the teacher said. “Let them”, said the headmaster.The headmaster said that he did not mind if the student complained.

Use ‘suggest’ as reporting verb when ‘let’s’ expresses a suggestion

Use urge/advice if ‘let’s’ expresses a call to action

  • Use ought to/should when the speaker is shifting the responsibility to someone and something else.
Reporting and summarising When we want to report what people say, we don’t usually try to report their exact words. We usually give a summary, for example: Direct speech (exact words): Mary: Oh dear. We’ve been walking for hours! I’m exhausted. I don’t think I can go any further. I really need to stop for a rest. Peter: Don’t worry. I’m not surprised you’re tired. I’m tired too. I’ll tell you what, let’s see if we can find a place to sit down, and then we can stop and have our picnic.
Reported speech (summary): When Mary complained that she was tired out after walking so far, Peter said they could stop for a picnic.  


Points to Remember

If the sentence starts in the Simple present, i.e., the reporting verb) is in the present tense (e. g. He says)- Do not change the tense, however personal pronoun is changed

Direct speechIndirect speech
“I write poems.”He says that he writes poems.
He says, “I write poems.”He says that he writes poems.
The teacher said, ‘Honesty is the best policy.’he teacher said that honesty is the best policy.

If the content is still true or happening then we do not need to change the tense in the reported speech. Like;

Direct speechIndirect speech
She said, “I live in Paris.”She said that she lives in Paris.

If Reporting speech has Universal Truth or Habitual fact then there is no change in the Tense.

Direct speechIndirect speech
Our teacher said, “The earth is round”Our teacher said that the earth is round.

Dear Students/Teacher/Parents

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