Direct-indirect speech: General narration rules of English grammar



There are two ways of reporting the words spoken by a person. We can reproduce the words exactly spoken or we can express in our own words the substance of what he said. The first of there method is called Direct speech or Direct Narration. The second is called Indirect Speech or Indirect Narration.

Direct: Imran said to his father, “I need more money”.
Indirect: Imran told his father that he needed more money.

The exact words of the speaker which are put within inverted commas are called the Reported Speech.
The verb that introduces the Reported speech is called Reporting Verb. In the above example “said” is the reporting verb and “I need more money” is the reported speech.

The following points should be observed about these two modes of narration.

(i) The Direct speech is always enclosed within inverted commas and it always begins with a capital letter. It is separated from the Reporting verb by a comma.

(a) In the Indirect Speech, no inverted commas are used and no comma is used to separate the Reporting Verb from the Reported Speech.
(b) The tense of the Reporting verb is never changed.
(c) A conjunction, if necessary, is used after the Reporting verb.
(d) Tenses, pronouns and words denoting nearness of time and position undergo certain change in the Indirect Speech.


Roles for the change of Tenses:

If the Reporting Verb is in a present Tense (e.g says, is/am/are saying, has/have said, has/have been saying) or a future tense (e.g shall/will say, shall/will have said, etc) the tense of the verb in the Reported speech remains unchanged.

(i) He says, “Children like to play”.
He says that children like to play.
(ii) Your brother will say, “Life was very hard during the war”.
Your brother will say that life was very hard during the war.
(iii) Ali has said, “Dogs would be hard to beat in faith fullness”.
Ali has said that dogs would be hard to beat in faithfulnesses.

If the Reporting Verb is in a past Tense (e.g said, had said, was saying, had been saying, used to say ), the tenses in the Reported speech are changed into the past tense.

♦ do/does is changed to did.
♦ did is changed to had done.
♦ had done remains unchanged.
♦ is/am/are doing is changed to was/were doing.
♦ was/were doing is changed to had been doing.
♦ had been doing is remains unchanged.
♦ will/shall do is changed to would/should do.
♦ will/shall be doing is changed to would/should be doing.
♦ will/shall have done is changed to would/should have done.
♦ will/shall have been doing is changed to would/should have been doing.
♦ would/should do, would/should be doing, would/should have done, would/should have been doing remain unchanged.
♦ may is changed to might.
♦ Can is changed to could.
♦ Has/have to is changed to had to.
♦ will/shall have done is changed to would/should have done.
♦ Might, could, had to, ought to, used to and had better remain unchanged.
♦ Must is changed to had to, would have or left unchanged according as it expresses present, obligation, future obligation or permanent commands and prohibitions.

Examples are:

1- He said, “Asif comes to the college daily”.
He said that Asif came to the college daily.
2- Seema said, “I am coming for dinner”.
Seema said that she was coming for dinner.
3- The poor beggar said, “The rich should try to be kind to the poor”.
The poor beggar said that the rich should try to be kind to the poor.
4- He said, “It was very hot in the morning”.
He said that it had been very hot in the morning.
5- He said, “It had been very hot since morning”.
He said that it had been very hot since morning.

Exceptions to the rule stated above:
a) If the Reported Speech expresses a universal truth or a habitual fact, its tense remains unchanged.
(i) The teacher said, “The earth revolves round the sun”.
The teacher said that the earth revolves round the sun.
(ii) She said, “Girls are usually more sincere than boys”.
She said that girls are usually more sincere than boys.


About the Author: GFC Staff

Our staff explores the Internet what’s possible and share knowledge and information with career seekers. They also Like to dig into various leading newspapers, important books, magazines etc. for important questions and MCQs. The team is led by Iqbal Hussain

Leave a Reply

Thanks for choosing to leave a reply. Your opinions and comments are very important to us, and your email address will NOT be published. If you need a private conversation then use our contact form. Please add an avatar if you do not have and make the comment section more beautiful.

Hope you like the App. We will upload other chapters soon. Till then, don’t forget to follow us.

Join us. We are social.