Direct Indirect Speech

Direct Indirect Speech

In this episode we are going to talk about Direct Indirect Speech. Direct Speech is something or statement that you express directly. Different from Direct Speech, Indirect Speech is something or statement that another person said/expressed. In this case, you reported what they said. So, you are a like reporter. We use indirect speech to tell someone else about what we have already heard from another person. Let’s see the following situation:

Direct Speech :
George said, “I’m lonely.”
If you want to tell somebody else about what George said.  We use reported speech :
George said (that) he was lonely.
George told me ( that ) he was lonely.
Generally, when we use indirect / reported speech, we are usually talking about the past.

Reporting/Indirect Speech Verbs

We usually use the verb told, said, asked in indirect speech. Let’s see the following examples :
  1. John told me (that) he was sick.
  2. My father said he would go to Paris tomorrow.
  3. The girl asked me where I lived.
We use tell if you say who you are talking to. Otherwise, we use said. The following examples are the wrong sentences.
  • John told he was sick.
  • John said me he was sick.
Notice the following example. We can use said + to to make a good indirect speech.
  1. John said to me he was sick.
  2. She said to me she loved me.

The Change of Tenses / Verbs in Indirect Speech

When we report to someone about what someone said to you, you have to pay attention to the rules of the change of tenses below.
 Direct / Quoted Speech  Indirect / Reported Speech 
 Simple Present Tense  He said,”I work five days a week.”  Simple Past Tense He said he worked five days a week.
 Present Continuous Tense He said,”I’m learning German.”  Past Continuous Tense
 He said he was learning German.
 Present Perfect Tense He said,”I have taken the pills.”  Past Perfect Tense
He said he had taken the pills.
 Present Perfect Continuous Tense
He said,”I have been writing a letter.”
Past Perfect Continuous TenseHe said he had been writing a letter.
 Simple Past Tense He said,”I went to London last year.” Simple Past Tense / Past Perfect
He said he went to London last year.
He said he had gone to London last year.
 Past Continuous Tense He said,”I was having dinner.” Past Perfect Continuous TenseHe said he had been having dinner.
 Past Perfect Tense
He said,”I had written 10 pages when she came.”
Past Perfect Tense
He said he had written 10 pages when she came.
 Past Perfect Continuous Tense He said,”I had been sitting for three hours when she came back.” Past Perfect Continuous Tense
He said he had been sitting for three hours when she came back.

The Modals That Change in Indirect Speech

The following modals have to be changed when used in indirect speech :

 

 Direct Speech  Indirect Speech
 can

will
shall
may

 could
would
should
might

Let’s see the following examples :

 Direct Speech  Indirect Speech
She said,”I can sing well.”
She said,”I will give you my number.”She said,”We shall dance.”
She said,”she may be late.”
She said she could sing well.
She said she would give me her number.
She said we should dance.
She said she might be late.

The Modals That Do Not Change in Indirect Speech

The following modals do not change in indirect speech : must, might, could, would, should, and ought. Let’s see the following examples :
 Direct Speech  Indirect Speech
They said,”We would play well.”
They said,”They must work hard.
She said,”I could run fast when I was two.He said,”I might not come back.”
He said,”We should leave the city.”
He said,”I ought to take you with me.”
They said they would play well.
They said they must (had to) work hard.
She said she could run fast when she was two.
He said he might not come back.
He said we should leave the city.
He said he ought to take me with him.

Orders/Commands and Requests in Indirect Speech

Orders and Requests are usually changed into infinitive in indirect speech. It is usually preceded by the verb told or asked. Let’s see the following examples.
 Direct Speech Indirect Speech
The doctor said to me,”Avoid fatty food.
Paul said,”Don’t cry.”
The girl asked,”Can you help lift the bag?”
The doctor told me to avoid fatty food.
Paul told me not to cry.
The girl asked me to help her lift the bag.

Changing Yes/No Questions

When we change yes/no questions into indirect speech, we have to change the auxiliary into if  or whether. Let’s see the following examples.
 Questions  Indirect Speech
He asked me,”Do you like apples?”

I asked John,”Can you play chess?”

Brad asked me,”Do you go to work by car?”

He asked me if (whether ) I liked apples.
I asked John if (whether ) he could play chess.
Brad asked me if (whether ) I went to work by car.

Changing Question-word Questions

 Question Word Question  Indirect Speech
The teacher asked me,”Where do you live?”
The teacher asked me,”When were you born?”
The teacher asked me,”How do you go to school?”
The teacher asked me where I lived.

The teacher asked me when I was (had been) born.
The teacher asked me how I went to school.

Direct Indirect Speech Exercises: told or said  ?

In this exercise you have to complete the indirect speech with told or said !
  1. Jill …… me she was happy with her new boyfriend.
  2. The doctor ……..that I had to avoid alcohol.
  3. Don …. she was a very nice girl.
  4. Jane …. her husband she didn’t like their new neighbors.
  5. Jack …..he wanted to go to Dublin.

Changing Direct Into Indirect Speech Exercises

In this exercise you have to change the direct speech provided into a good indirect speech.
  1. He said,”I am glad to be here.”
  2. She said,”I may not come back early this evening.”
  3. Tom told me,”I didn’t like Rachel.”
  4. George said,”I’ll get the phone.”
  5. Sue told me,” I saw Peggy at the party.”

Order and Request in Indirect Speech Exercise

In this exercise you have to change the order and request into indirect speech.
  1. The doctor said,”Eat more fruit and vegetables.”  The doctor told me …..
  2. He said to me,”Clean the glass properly.” He told me ……….
  3. Father said,”Close the door slowly.” Father asked me ………
  4. I said to him,”Don’t come late.” I asked him……………
  5. Bill said,”Can you open the gate?” Bill asked me …………..

Direct Indirect Speech Exercises: told or said  Answers

  1. Jill told me she was happy with her new boyfriend.
  2. The doctor said that I had to avoid alcohol.
  3. Don said she was a very nice girl.
  4. Jane told her husband she didn’t like their new neighbors.
  5. Jack said  he wanted to go to Dublin.

 

Changing Direct Into Indirect Speech Exercises Answers

  1. He said he was glad to be here.
  2. She said she might not come back early that evening. 
  3. Tom told me he didn’t like Rachel.
  4. George said he’d get the phone. 
  5. Sue told me she saw Peggy at the party. 

Order and Request in Indirect Speech Exercises Answers

  1. The doctor told me to eat more fruit and vegetables.
  2. He told me to clean the glass properly.
  3. Father asked me to close the door slowly.
  4. I asked him not to come late.
  5. Bill asked me to open the gate.


Other Exercises

Related Topic Video

Direct Indirect Speech Video

Reported Speech, Statements, Questions, and Commands

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