Direct and Indirect Speech - English Grammar

Direct and Indirect Speech - English Grammar
31-July 2019 2 Comment(s) 2.00

Direct and Indirect Speech

Communication is a process of exchanging ideas. It is a two way process and there are two important entities involved in communication process. Speaker and listener. There is no role of direct and indirect speech in communication process as both the entities are available and are able to exchange their ideas smoothly.

                   When we convey someone’s statement, there are two methods to convey. Direct and indirect methods to convey to the statement.

Direct Speech: when we convey the statement of the speaker in as it is manner, it is called direct speech. The statement is kept inside inverted commas (“---”) to convey it specifically. In direct speech, the overall objective is to highlight the statement. It is the most preferred method of communication as it does not involve much complication.


  1. I said to my mother, “I will definitely qualify the exam in this attempt.”
  2. Priya said to me, “Which book should I refer to prepare for competition?”
  3. They say to me, “Start doing this work immediately else you will have to bear the penalty.”
  4. Mukesh says to them, “What a nice example you have given !”
  5. She will say to you, “May you have success soon!”

In the above given examples, it is quite easy to understand that conveying a statement inside inverted commas make a speaker quite  comfortable whereas connecting both the statements will involve some changes that can be complex. Now there are two terms, they should be understood well before we proceed.

Reporting verb: the way a statement is reported is called reporting verb. The change in reporting verb is required when it is converted into indirect speech. It is based on the category of the sentence made in reported speech.

Reported Speech: whatever is reported inside inverted commas is the reported speech. On the basis of Reported Speech’s category, the conjunction is required.

Indirect Speech: Instead of conveying the statement in as it is manner, if we convert it into our manner, it is called indirect speech. It is generally useful when the message is in the form of story. It is not feasible to convey the whole story in the highlighted form. It is better to convey it by connecting it with our sentences. There are four important changes that take place while making it into direct form. We shall learn all these four phases step by step.

  1. Conjunction is required as per category of reported speech.  
  2. Reporting verb is changed as per category of reported speech.
  3. Tense should be uniform after connecting reporting verb and reported speech.
  4. Change of Persons.

Conversion of Persons is based on their categories.

1st Person

I, We (Sub)

2nd Person

You (Object)

3rd Person

He, She, It, They, Any Name


Generally students mug up a formula to learn the conversion of persons like SON/123.

 It means 1st person is changed according to the subject

Here it should be noted that there is nothing to mug up as such because in classification of persons only it is mentioned that 1st person denotes subject. This we can realize in our practical life too. Subject is the one who does the work in a sentence. Whenever we make a sentence for self or for group, we begin it with “I” or “we”.

I do my work on time. I plan for it and I spend quality time.

We love our country. We work on each problem attentively.

Here we can easily analyze that “I” and “We” are generally used to refer subject so one can easily keep in mind.

 2nd person is changed according to the object

The object is the one for whom or on whom the work is performed. Generally “you” is used as an object. Even there are cases where object is not mentioned, “you” is taken as an object. We can take some examples of imperative sentences.

  • Come here right now. (Who? Of course “you”)
  • Listen to me carefully. (Who? Of course “you”)
  • Complete this assignment immediately. (Who? Of course “you”)

So one should be comfortable with the pronoun “You” and should keep in mind that it is second person and it is changed as per the given object in a sentence.

3rd Person is Not Changed

All the pronouns of 3rd person are just the substituting words. So there is no change if third person is there in the reported speech.

So instead of mugging up a certain formula, students should analyze it deeply and bring it into their practical experiences.




Assertive Sentences (Positive and Negative Sentences)


Reporting Verb (say)

: Say-> tell, says->tells, said-> told, will say-> will tell

Note: if object is available.





I said to my mother, “I will definitely qualify the exam in this attempt.”


I told my mother that I would definitely qualify the exam in that attempt.

(#Object is available.)



Note: Conversion of say is based on the availability of the object. Well, there is a way to remember this fact. Say means just to speak the sentence whereas tell means to make someone listen to your statement. We can easily remember this fact as it is genuinely fine that the object must be available for conversion of say into tell.



Interrogative (adj)

Interrogate (v),Interrogation (n)

Reporting Verb (say)

: Say-> ask, says->asks, said-> asked, will say-> will ask


If/whether, “wh” word



My brother said to me, “Is it working well?”


My brother asked me if it was working well.


Anshul said to him, “Why will you not provide me this opportunity?”


Anshul asked him why he would not provide him that opportunity

Note: the difference between “if” and “whether” is based on the type of given sentence. If optional condition is given, we use whether whereas in normal conditions we use if.

Direct: I said to my friend, “Are you getting it or not?”

Indirect: I asked my friend whether he was getting it.

Direct: Pankaj said to Lalita, “Will you come today to meet?”

Indirect: Pankaj asked Lalita if she would come that to meet.




Imperative Sentences

(Order, Request, Suggestion)

Reporting Verb (say)

 Say-> order, Say-> request, Say-> suggest

(as per sense.)




Direct: Ashish said to me, “Do your work well.”

Indirect: Ashish ordered me to do my work well.

Direct: They said to us, “Please provide us the required resources.”

Indirect: The requested us to provide them the required resources.

Direct: Mukesh said to me, “recommend the suitable option so that I can work well on the given assignments.”

Indirect: Mukesh suggested me to recommend the suitable option so that he could work well o the given assignments.



Exclamatory Sentences

(exclamation: sudden feelings)

Reporting Verb (say)



                 Say ->

exclaim with wonder

Exclaim with surprise

Exclaim with joy

Exclaim (optional)





Direct: Anita said to them, “What a nice performance they have given!”

Indirect: Anita exclaimed with wonder that they had a given a very nice performance.

Direct: Rashmi said to me, ”How carefully you do your work!”

Indirect: Rashmi exclaimed with surprise that I did my work very carefully.

Direct: Prakash said to Ankit, “Alas! I could have given a better result!”

Indirect: Prakash exclaimed with sorrow that he could have given a better result.


Exercise 1- Assertive Sentences

Convert the following sentences into Indirect speech.

  1. Sohan said to his mother, “I want to make my communication skills strong. ”
  2. Mohan says to Raman, “We are working hard to achieve our goal.”
  3. Tanush will say to his mother, “I need a vehicle to reach my school on time.”
  4. Krishna said to them, “Hard work never goes in vain. It results sooner or later.”
  5. He said to me, “One needs patience to observe the activities happening around him.”
  6. She said to me, “They have followed my instructions and worked on the given assignments accordingly.”
  7. Meena says to me, “I have been waiting for you for a long time.”
  8. I said to Garima, “Kavita informed you about this even a long time back.”
  9. Priyanka said to Pulkit, “We work on given assignments sincerely and achieve the targeted output.”
  10. They say to me every day, “We were thinking for newer options to implement.”
  11. Awadhesh will say to his brother, “My mother provides me breakfast on time.”
  12. He will say to you, “I am preparing for various competitive exams and I am quite confused.”
  13. Anchal says to her colleagues, “We are not wasting our time in fact we are evaluating one another’s performance through these activities.”
  14. We say to our neighbors, “We have brought all required amenities in our colony for the welfare of society.”
  15. Prem says to his sister, “I am not disturbing you in fact, I am trying to train you in your weak areas.”
  16. Anuj will say, “I am preparing important notes for my presentation and taking all necessary steps to perform well.”
  17. You said to my aunt, “I will not give you the solution on time and will also misuse the resources.”
  18. Anshuman said to all soldiers, “We are marching towards our destination. All of you are required to be attentive.”
  19. They said, “We shall do it on priority basis.”
  20. Mamta said to Sanjay, “I shall be leaving office little earlier today.”




Aditya Dubey

Head of the Department (English)

Centurion Defence Academy, Alambagh, Lucknow