Changing Direct Speech to Indirect Speech

If you have ever thought about how to change direct speech into indirect speech, this tutorial will provide a comprehensive guide on how to do so effectively. In English Grammar, the process of converting direct speech into indirect speech, known as 'reported speech,' consists of various rules that one must understand and appropriately apply. Do not worry if you are a beginner at this; by the end of this tutorial, you will be confident in changing direct speech into indirect speech.

Understanding Direct and Indirect Speech

Before jumping into the transformation process, let's first define what Direct and Indirect Speech are:

Direct Speech:

Direct Speech refers to the exact wording used by a person to convey a message or share information. It typically involves using quotations to denote the speaker's words. An example of direct speech is: She said, "I am hungry."

Indirect Speech:

On the other hand, Indirect Speech, also known as Reported Speech, involves reporting what someone has said without necessarily using the exact wording. In this case, quotations are not used. Using the same content from the direct speech example, the indirect speech would be: She said that she was hungry.

Types of Sentences in Direct and Indirect Speech

Direct and Indirect Speech can occur in five different types of sentences: statements, commands, requests, questions, and exclamations. Each of these sentence types has specific rules associated with their transformation.

Rules for Changing Direct Speech into Indirect Speech

The initial step in changing direct speech to reported speech involves understanding specific rules. The following are some general guidelines to consider:

  • Rule 1: Change the verb tense in the quoted speech. With past tense reporting verbs, shift the tense back. For example, if the direct speech is in the present simple, shift it to the past simple in the reported speech. Hence, "He says, 'I am busy'" will change to "He said he was busy."

  • Rule 2: Adjust pronouns and time/place words as necessary. The pronoun may change according to the subject of reporting speech. Thus, "She says, 'I enjoy reading'" will become "She said she enjoyed reading."

  • Rule 3: Remove the quotation marks. Reported speech does not use direct quotations, so delete the quotes when converting the speech. For instance, "I am happy," he said will become He said he was happy.

  • For Statements

    When reporting statements, use that to connect the reported speech. Keep in mind that that is often omitted in conversation. Remember to change the tense and adjust pronouns as necessary. For example, direct speech: He said, "I am tired." Indirect speech: He said that he was tired.

    For Commands and Requests

    Change commands and requests from direct to indirect speech using to for commands and to kindly for requests. Adjust the tense as appropriate. For example, direct command: "Come here!" said the mother. Indirect command: The mother told him to come there.

    For Questions

    When converting questions, use if or whether. Adjust the tense of the verb and do not use question marks. For example, direct question: She asked, "Are you feeling well?" Indirect question: She asked if he was feeling well.

    For Exclamations

    Exclamations and wishes are reported with words like exclaimed or wished, and the exclamatory words are often re-phrased. For example, direct exclamation: "How beautiful the rainbow is!" he exclaimed. Indirect exclamation: He exclaimed that the rainbow was very beautiful.


    By focusing on each rule while learning, you can understand the context of direct and indirect speech and hone your skills in English grammar. With continual practice and use of these guidelines, you will find yourself becoming increasingly comfortable with converting direct speech to indirect.

    Remember, though knowledge about theoretical rules is essential, it is ultimately practice and implementation that will help you master this segment of English grammar. Good luck with your continuous learning journey!

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