Narration - Direct and Indirect Speech Rules

What is Narration?

Narration as the name suggests is a way of narrating or telling something one heard to someone else. The narration chart or ways of speaking differs in the way the speaker phrases the sentences. It can be spoken directly as is called direct speech or in an indirect manner or indirect speech which is also called reported speech. The narration rules and direct and indirect speech rules are a great way to understand this part of English grammar.

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What is Reported Speech?

Reported speech is narration or indirect speech. Direct speech is a statement that is written exactly as it is spoken. To show exactly what is said, we always use quotation marks in such a sentence whereas in reported speech different words or parts of speech like conjunction ‘that’ or preposition ’if’ are used to convey the same meaning. Let us take a look at direct and indirect speech examples

Direct speech: Anika said, “I am going to buy a dress”.

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Reported speech: Anika said that she is going to buy a new dress.

Direct and Indirect Speech Rules Chart

Let us look at a basic chart of the direct and indirect speech that will help us understand the rules of converting one type to another easily. The basic characteristic of this chart is that it requires an understanding of the Subject noun, pronoun, its reporting verb and speech clause and conjunction.

Example: He said, “I want to go see a movie”.

Subject Noun/Pronoun


Reporting Verb




Reporting Speech Clause

He wanted to go see a movie.

Reported Speech Rules

1. The first rule is to pick a reporting verb and time frame or tense in the sentence.

  • What time did the speech take place? The reporting verb is in the present tense when dealing with current, repeated, or recent events. "He says he's hungry, so let's grab a bite to eat." 

  • Choose the past tense for recounting a less recent speech. Depending on the situation, the reporting verb can also be told, or other verbs such as ordered, stated, or reported. You can use verbs like asked or requested when reporting queries.

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Direct Speech: Sheena asked, “Marie did you have a bad dream?”

Indirect Speech: Sheena asked if Marie had a bad dream.

2. The second rule is to alter your point of view.

That is, I transform into he, she, or they. Karan said, "I drank the orange juice." becomes, "Karan said that he drank the orange juice."

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The girls said, “We are going tomorrow.’’ becomes, "They said they are going tomorrow."

3. Decide whether or not to use "if" or "that."

It's a choice when reporting on a question, another conjunction, if, is required or not.

She asked, ”Do you know how to play tennis.”

 "She asked me if I knew how to play tennis."

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4. Move the tense backwards, if the sentence is in the present tense, then reporting verb will be in the past tense. 

Example: Karina said, "I have repaired my bicycle." 

Karina said she had repaired her bicycle.

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Practice Exercise

1. State whether the sentences are true or false

A. We use quotation marks in indirect speech.

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Ans: False

B. In the indirect or reported speech, we always use ‘that’ after the speaker’s name.

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Ans: True

3. Reported speech is also called direct speech.

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Ans: False

B. Change the following sentence into direct or indirect speech.

1. “We should go to the beach together,” said Priya.

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Ans: Priya said that they should go to the beach together.

2. She said that Rahul had arrived on Wednesday.

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Ans: She said, “Rahul arrived on Wednesday.”

3. “You have to eat vegetables,” said my mother.

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Ans: My mother said that I had to eat vegetables.

Do it Yourself

A. Is the following sentence in direct or indirect speech?

1. Radha said that there were many people waiting in front of the ticket counter.

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2. She said, “My friends always help me with my studies.”

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3. Dia says that there is no water in the glass.

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B. Convert the following sentences into direct or indirect speech.

1. Arun said, “Nitin works very hard.”

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2. She said that many elephants were crossing the road.

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3. Arun asked, “why do you look so happy?”

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FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What is reported speech?

Reported speech is how we represent other people's speech or what we say ourselves. Reported speech is also called indirect speech. Let us learn using direct and indirect speech examples. Direct speech repeats the words exactly as one says, or as we recall them: Mahira said "I didn't realise it was midnight,". Whereas the other category indirect speech is where the reporting speech is used, like Mahira said that she didn’t realise it was midnight.

2. Is narrating the same as giving an indirect speech?

Indirect speech is also known as reported speech or narration. As a result, we express the speaker's message in our own words in indirect speech. Indirect speech is always in the past tense because it is used to report what someone may have said. We can convey that someone's speech is being described without using inverted commas by introducing the sentence with the word "that."

3. Can the word ‘should’ be changed in indirect speech?

When reported, will, can and shall become would, could, and should. In English, the word will is used to make statements regarding the future. Will becomes would when reporting this type of statement.