Direct and Indirect Speech Rules

Quoting the exact words of the speaker is called “The Direct Speech”.

  • Dhruv said, “I am writing a letter now”.

Reporting of what a speaker said without quoting his exact words is called ‘Indirect Speech’.

  • Dhruv said that he was writing a letter then.

#1. Direct and Indirect Speech Rules: 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.

  • Aman says, “I eat a mango”. (Direct Speech)
  • Aman says, that he eats a mango”. (Indirect Speech)

If Reporting Verb is in the Past Tense, the tense of the verbs in the reported speech or Indirect Speech must be generally changed.

Present Tense in the Direct becomes past tense.

  • John said, “I write a letter”. (Direct Speech)
  • John said that he wrote a letter. (Indirect Speech)

Past Tense in the direct becomes past perfect or remains unchanged.

  • Angel said, “I bought a pen”. (Direct Speech)
  • Angel said that she had bought a pen. (Indirect Speech)

Present Continuous in the direct becomes past continuous.

  • Julie said, “I am going to Church”. (Direct Speech)
  • Julie said that she was going to Church. (Indirect Speech)

Past Continuous in the direct becomes past perfect continuous.

  • Neel said, “I was playing cricket”. (Direct Speech)
  • Neel said that he had been playing (Indirect Speech)

Present Perfect in the direct becomes past perfect.

  • Kamal said, “I have done my home work”. (Direct Speech)
  • Kamal said that he had done his home work. (Indirect Speech)

Present Perfect Continuous in the direct becomes past perfect continuous.

  • He said, “I have been reading a novel”. (Direct Speech)
  • He said that he had been reading a novel. (Indirect Speech)

‘Will’ and ‘Shall’ are changed to ‘would’.

  • He said, “I will go to London tomorrow”. (Direct Speech)
  • He said that he would go to London the next day. (Indirect Speech)

May – might, can – could, must – had to (or) must

  • Johnsi said, “I must go now”. (Direct Speech)
  • Johnsi said that she must (or) had to go then. (Indirect Speech)

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”. (Direct Speech)
  • The teacher said that the sun rises in the East. (Indirect Speech)

#2. Direct and Indirect Speech Rules: Pronouns

Pronouns of the first person in the reported speech are changed into the persons of the subject of the reporting verb; as:-

  • He said to me , “I haven’t got my glasses with me”.
  • He told me that he hadn’t got his glasses with him.
  • She said to me, “Sashi insulted my brother in my presence”.
  • She told me that Sashi had insulted her brother in her

Pronouns of the second person in the reported speech are changed into the persons of the object of the reporting verb; as:-

  • I said to him, “You have taken your
  • I told him that he had taken his
  • He said to me, “You did not admit your mistake”.
  • He told me that I had not admitted my

Pronouns of the third person undergo no change; as:-

  • She said to you, “He will surly drop a line in reply.”
  • He told you that he would surly drop a line in replay.

#3. Direct and Indirect Speech Rules: Adverbs

The adverbs of nearness should be put into those of distance.

direct and indirect speech rules
  • I said to her, “I shall see you here tomorrow”.
  • I told her that I should see her there the next day.
  • She said to him, “I bought these books yesterday.”
  • She told him that she had bought those books the previous day.

#4. Statement or Assertive Sentence

  • Remove the quotation marks in the statement
  • Use the conjunction ‘that’
  • Change the reporting verb ‘say to’ into ‘tell’
  • Change the reporting verb ‘said to’ into ‘told’


  • He said that (correct)
  • He told me that (correct)
  • He told that (Incorrect)


  • “I will work hard to get first class” said Lazar (Direct Speech)
  • Lazar said he would work hard to get first class. (Indirect Speech)
  • “You can do this work” said Nelson to Johnsi (Direct Speech)
  • Nelson told Johnsi that he could do that work. (Indirect Speech)
  • He says, “I am glad to be here this evening” (Direct Speech.)
  • He says that he is glad to be there that evening. (Indirect Speech)
  • “I’m going to the library now” said David (Direct Speech)
  • David said that he was going to the library then. (Indirect Speech)

#5.  Imperative Sentence (Order or Request)

  • 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.

  • “Don’t talk in the class” said the teacher to the boys. (Direct Speech)
  • The teacher advised the boys not to talk in the class. (Indirect Speech)
  • “Please give me something to eat. I am hungry” the old man said to them. (Direct Speech)
  • The old man requested them to give him something to eat and said that he was hungry (Indirect Speech)
  • “Be careful” said he to her. (Direct Speech)
  • He ordered her to be careful. (Indirect Speech)
  • “Bring me a cup of tea” said Nelson to Andriya. (Direct Speech)
  • Nelson asked Andriya to bring him a cup of tea. (Indirect Speech)

#6.  Interrogative Sentence (Questions)

  • 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’.


  • “Won’t you help me to carry this box?” said I to my friend. (Direct Speech)
  • asked my friend if he would not help me to carry that box. (Indirect Speech)
  • Mohan said to Stalin, “Why didn’t you attend the meeting yesterday”? (Direct Speech)
  • Mohan asked Stalin why he had not attended the meeting the day before. (Indirect Speech)
  • “How often do you go to the theatre?” said David to John. (Direct Speech) David asked John how often he went to the theatre. (Indirect Speech)
  • Mohamed said to Sultan, “Do you like mangoes?” (Direct Speech)
  • Mohamed asked Sultan if he liked mangoes. (Indirect Speech)

#7.  Exclamatory Sentence

  • Change the exclamatory sentence into statement 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.


  • “O, what a beautiful flower that is!” said she. (Direct Speech)
  • She exclaimed joyfully that that was a very beautiful flower. (Indirect Speech)
  • “What a horrible sight!” we all exclaimed. (Direct Speech)
  • We all exclaimed that it was a very horrible sight. (Indirect Speech)
  • “Alas! I have broken my brother’s watch” said he. (Direct Speech)
  • He exclaimed sorrowfully that he had broken his brother’s watch. (Indirect Speech)
  • “How beautiful she is!” said Boon. (Direct Speech)
  • Boon exclaimed joyfully that she was very beautiful. (Indirect Speech)

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