Table of Contents
Background on Communication
Spoken and written communication is like one big game of telephone. Sometimes we hear the original tale, and other times we hear a retelling of the story. In this lesson, we’re going to explore what that means by studying the difference between direct and indirect speech and learning proper grammar techniques for both.
Direct speech, also known as quoted speech, consists of words or phrases that are taken directly from the source. These words are quoted or written exactly as the words were originally spoken.
With regard to direct speech, there is no interpretation or annotation; the words are taken directly from one source and repeated to another. In other words, we take the words directly from the speaker and repeat them exactly as they were originally stated.
Here are some examples of direct speech:
- Jonah said, ”I don’t like your hat.”
- Jonah said, ”Please take off that Yankees hat.”
- Jane said, ”It’s not my fault that you are a Red Sox fan.”
In these examples, the direct speech is shown in quotations, which signifies that the speech is taken directly from the source with no alterations.
Indirect speech, also known as reported speech, is when words or phrases are reported in our own words. The original words are modified and/or interpreted as opposed to being quoted.
When talking about indirect speech, we use words that refer to something that has already happened. To do so, we are speaking in the past tense and are summarizing, modifying, or synthesizing what has already been said.
Here are some examples of indirect speech:
- Amy said it was cold.
- He said he had been on Facebook since 2010.
- She said she had been teaching college classes for two years.
Direct and Indirect Speech Exercise with Answers
Turn the following sentences into indirect speech.
1. John said, ‘I am very busy now.’
2. He said, ‘The horse has been fed.’
3. ‘I know her name and address,’ said John.
4. ‘German is easy to learn,’ she said.
5. He said, ‘I am writing letters.’
6. ‘It is too late to go out,’ Alice said.
7. He said to me, ‘I don’t believe you.’
8. He says, ‘I am glad to be here this evening.’
9. He said to me, ‘What are you doing?’
10. ‘Where is the post office?’ asked the stranger.
11. He said, ‘Will you listen to me?’
12. John said to Peter, ‘Go away.’
13. She said to me, ‘Please wait here till I return.’
14. ‘Call the witness,’ said the judge.
15. The speaker said, ‘Be quiet and listen to my words.’
1. John said that he was very busy then.
2. He said that the horse had been fed.
3. John said that he knew/knows her name and address. (Note that the tenses may not change if the statement is still relevant or if it is a universal truth.)
4. She said that German is/was easy to learn.
5. He said that he was writing letters.
6. Alice said that it was too late to go out.
7. He told me that he didn’t believe me. OR He said he didn’t believe me.
8. He says that he is glad to be here this evening. (When the reporting verb is in the present tense, adverbs of time and place do not normally change in indirect speech.)
9. He asked me what I was doing.
10. The stranger asked where the post office is/was.
11. He asked me if I would listen to him.
12. John ordered Peter to go away.
13. She asked me to wait there till she returned.
14. The judge commanded them to call the first witness.
15. He urged them to be quiet and listen to them.
Below are few more examples of converting to direct and indirect speech
Exercise 1: Change into indirect speech
Read the following sentences and convert them into indirect speech.
- Rahul told to me, “When are you leaving?”
- “Where do you live?” the stranger asked Aladdin.
- The teacher said to Shelly, “Why are you laughing?”
- Dhronacharya said to Arjun, “Shoot the bird’s eye.”
- “Call the first convict,” said the jury.
- “Call the ambulance,” said the man.
- Bruce said to me, “I shall do the work.”
- My mother said to me, “You were wrong.”
- Mr Richard said to me, “Please wait here till I return.”
- The captain said to me, “Bravo! You have played well.”
- Raj said, “Alas! My pet died.”
- Ruchi said, “I may go there.”
- Bucky said to Steve, “Do you hear me?”
- The boy said, “Let me come in.”
- Granny said to me, “May God bless you.”
- Rahul asked me when I was leaving.
- The stranger asked Aladdin where he lived.
- The teacher asked Shelly why he was laughing.
- Dhronacharya ordered Arjun to shoot the fish’s eye.
- The jury ordered to call the first convict.
- The man urged to call the ambulance.
- Bruce said to me he would do the work.
- My mother told me that I was wrong.
- Mr Richard requested me to wait there till he returned.
- The captain applauded me, saying that I had played well.
- Raj exclaimed sadly that his pet died.
- Ruchi said that she might go there.
- Bucky asked Steve if he heard him.
- The boy asked to let him come in.
- Granny prayed that God might bless me.
Convert the following into Direct Speech
Read the following passage and convert it into direct speech.
One of them told Issac that the latter had forgotten one thing that belonged to a mill. Issac enquired what that was. The friend asked where the miller was. Issac replied that (absence of the miller) was true – and he must look for one.
“But Issac,” said one of them, “you have forgotten one thing that belongs to a mill.”
“What is that?” asked Issac.
“Why, where is the miller?” said his friend.
“That is true – I must look for one,” said Issac.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is direct speech?
When the actual words/sentences as spoken by the speaker are quoted in a speech, it’s called direct speech/narration.
What is indirect speech?
When the quoted speech is reported in the form of a narrative without changing the meaning of the actual quotation/words by the speaker, it’s called indirect speech/narration.