Direct and Indirect Speech

Introduction to Direct and Indirect Speech

The distinction between direct and indirect speech may be confusing for some students. Often when we need to explain an incident or action, it involves quoting what someone said. A social situation, as well as a work email or presentation, are examples of such instances. There are two forms of speech used to explain what other people say: direct speech and indirect speech (or reported speech).

Direct Speech

The same words spoken are quoted in direct speech. If we use direct speech in writing, we bring the words spoken between quotation marks (" ") and leave them alone. We may be reporting something that is actually being said (for example, a phone conversation) or asking someone about a previous conversation later.


  • Nirmal said, "There's a dog outside the window."

  • Mahima says, "What time will you be home?"

  • Supriya said, "I don't know!"

Indirect Speech

When we use reported or indirect speech to speak about the past, we generally change the tense of the words we say. We use reporting verbs like 'say,' 'tell,' and 'ask,' and we can introduce the reported words with the word 'that.' There are no inverted commas in this sentence.


  • Mahima said that she had seen him.

  • Nirmal said he was looking forward to playing in the match on Saturday.

Direct and Indirect Speech

Children often mix up direct and indirect speech. We need a way to say the difference between what someone is claimed to have said and what they actually said when we're writing. What did she say if you asked her? You may respond in one of two ways:

“I don’t like pizza,” Siddi said. (Direct speech)

Siddi says she doesn’t like pizza. (Indirect speech)

Note how speech marks (“...”) are used in direct speech to indicate precisely what was said. Speech labels are located at the beginning and end of the actual words spoken. The words 'Siddi said' are not in speech marks because they were not spoken aloud; rather, they are a way for the writer to express who was speaking to the reader.

The past tense is often used in reported speech. This is due to the fact that the words have already been spoken, and the writer is simply reporting on what has already been saying. It's critical to think about what was said and convert it to the past tense.

Direct and Indirect Narration Rules

Following are the steps to convert the direct/indirect speech and also let’s discuss Direct and Indirect speech tenses rules in detail.

Step 1: Write down the reporting verb that is used to determine the indirect speech's tense.

Step 2: Change the position and time to reflect the speaker's actual location and time.

Step 3: For both the object and the subject, use the correct pronoun.

Step 4: Make sure the sentence has a correct structure and word order.

Now we'll go through each of these measures in greater depth.

Step 1: Choosing the Verb's Tense and Conversion

Case 1: Nirmal said, ‘I go to the gym every day’.

Case 2: Nirmal says, ‘I go to the gym every day.’

The verb ‘say' is used in both of the instances above to express the action of speaking. In addition, the reporting verb say is used in the past tense in the first case – said. In case 2, however, the reporting verb is in the present tense.

As a consequence, all verbs must be in the relevant past tense here. If the reporting verb is in the past tense, this is often followed. Thus, Nirmal said, ‘I go to the class every day’ will change to Nirmal said that he went to the gym every day.

The second rule is that the tense is not changed whether the reporting verb is in the future or present tense. So, Nirmal says, ‘I go to the class every day’ will be changed to Nirmal says that he goes to the class every day.

Step 2: Changes are Made to the Word That Communicates Place, Time, and Connection.

The time or place specified in the sentence should be changed to match the current time or position.

On 21st, May 2015: ‘I will come tomorrow,’ Sriram said.

On 21st, May 2015, Sriram said that he would come the next day.

Step 3: The Subject and Object Pronouns are Chosen Separately.

Case 1: Saurav will say to his friends, “I have started learning psychology” will change to Saurav will tell his friends that he has started learning psychology.

In this case, the speaker and the reporter are the same people. As a consequence, the pronoun should be the first person pronoun.

Case 2: Ma’am said to me, “I hope you will bring the geometry to my next class” will change to Ma’am hoped that I would bring the geometry to her next class.

The speaker is ma'am, and the reporter is the student. As a consequence, ma'am pronoun should be in the third person. The reporter's pronoun should also be in the first person.

Remember that we do not change the tense of the reporting verb within the quotation marks when it is in the present or future tense.


When using English, you'll want to use both direct and indirect speech regularly, so make sure you're familiar with both and can use them correctly. Direct speech isn't always an accurate representation of what someone has said. Using inverted commas before and after the quotation, you may quote from other texts in a similar way. Instead of using the verb "to tell," consider using a verb like "to compose," "to state," or "to define." You may convey what is being reported using a variety of verbs; for example, while "to say" is widely used, you may also want to use "to tell" to explain something that has been told to you. Keeping a small diary of what has been said around you is an important way to practise – explain what people have said and try to write a few examples of each form.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What is Direct and Indirect Speech with Examples?

Ans: Direct Speech: “I'm seeing my brother tomorrow.”

Indirect Speech: She said she was seeing her brother the following day.

2. What are Simple Rules for Conversion of Indirect Speech to Direct Speech?

Ans: Both inverted commas and quotation marks should be eliminated. Put a full stop at the end of the sentence. Shift the present tense of the verb within the inverted commas/quotation marks to the corresponding past tense. Shift it to the past perfect tense if it's in the simple past tense.

3. What are the Examples of Direct Speech?

Ans: Few examples of Direct speech are:

Nirmal said, "There's a dog outside the window."

Mahima says, "What time will you be home?"

Supriya said, "I don't know!"