Direct & Indirect Speech

What is Direct & Indirect Speech?

Direct Speech: the message of the speaker is conveyed or reported in his own actual words without any change.

Indirect Speech: the message of the speaker is conveyed or reported in our own words.

Example on Process of Conversion from Direct to Indirect Speech

  1. a)    Direct: Radha said, “I am very busy now.”
  2. b)    Indirect: Radha said that she was very busy then.
  3. All inverted commas or quotation marks are omitted and the sentence ends with a full stop.
  4. Conjunction ‘that’ is added before the indirect statement.
  5. The pronoun ‘I’ is changed to ‘she’. (The Pronoun is changed in Person)
  6. The verb ‘am’ is changed to ‘was’. (Present Tense is changed to Past)
  7. The adverb ‘now’ is changed to ‘then’.


Tips on Direct and Indirect Speech:

Tip 1: Conversion Rules as per the Reporting Verb

When the reporting or principal verb is in the Past Tense, all Present tenses of the direct are changed into the corresponding Past Tenses.

  1. a)    Direct: He said, “I am unwell.”
  2. b)    Indirect: He said (that) he was 

If the reporting verb is in the Present or Future Tense, the tenses of the Direct Speech do not change.

  1. a)    Direct: He says/will say, “I am unwell.”
  2. b)    Indirect: He says/will say he is 

The Tense in Indirect Speech is NOT CHANGED if the words within the quotation marks talk of a universal truth or habitual action.

  1. a)    Direct: They said, “We cannot live without water.”
  2. b)    Indirect: They said that we cannot live without water.


Tip 2: Conversion Rules of Present Tense in Direct Speech

Simple Present Changes to Simple Past

  1. a)    Direct: “I am happy”, she said.
  2. b)    Indirect: She said that she was 

Present Continuous Changes to Past Continuous

  1. a)    Direct: “I am reading a book”, he explained.
  2. b)    Indirect: He explained that he was reading a book.

Present Perfect Changes to Past Perfect

  1. a)    Direct: She said, “He has finished his food“.
  2. b)    Indirect: She said that he had finished his food.

Present Perfect Continuous Changes to Past Perfect Continuous

  1. a)    Direct: “I have been to Gujarat”, he told me.
  2. b)    Indirect: He told me that he had been to 


Tip 3: Conversion Rules of Past & Future Tense

Simple Past Changes to Past Perfect

  1. a)    Direct: He said, “Ira arrived on Monday.”
  2. b)    Indirect: He said that Ira had arrived on Monday.

Past Continuous Changes to Past Perfect Continuous

  1. a)    Direct: “We were living in Goa”, they told me.
  2. b)    Indirect: They told me that they had been living in Goa.

Future Changes to Present Conditional

  1. a)    Direct: He said, “I will be in Kolkata tomorrow.”
  2. b)    Indirect: He said that he would be in Kolkata the next day.

Future Continuous Changes to Conditional Continuous

  1. a)    Direct: She said, “I’ll be using the car next Friday.”
  2. b)    Indirect: She said that she would be using the car next Friday.


Tip 4: Changes in Modals

CAN changes into COULD

  1. a)    Direct: He said, “I can 
  2. b)    Indirect: He said that he could

MAY changes into MIGHT

  1. a)    Direct: He said, “I may buy a house.”
  2. b)    Indirect: He said that he might buy a house.


  1. a)    Direct: He said, “I must work hard.”
  2. b)    Indirect: He said that he had to work hard.

Modals that DO NOT Change: Would, Could, Might, Should, Ought to.

  1. a)    Direct: He said, “I should face the challenge.”
  2. b)    Indirect: He said that he should face the challenge.


Tip 5: Conversion of Interrogative

Reporting Verb like ‘said/ said to’ changes to asked, enquired or demanded

  1. a)    Direct: He said to me, “What are you doing?”
  2. b)    Indirect: He asked me what I was doing.

If sentence begins with auxiliary verb, the joining clause should be if or whether.

  1. a)    Direct: He said, “Will you come for the meeting?”
  2. b)    Indirect: He asked them whether they would come for the meeting.

If sentence begins with ‘wh’ questions then no conjunction is used as the “question-word” itself act as joining clause.

  1. a)    Direct: Where do you live?” asked the girl.
  2. b)    Indirect: The girl enquired where I lived.


Tip 6: Command, Request, Exclamation, Wish

Commands and Requests

Indirect Speech is introduced by some verbs like ordered, requested, advised and suggested. Forbid(s)/ forbade is used for the negative sentences. The imperative mood is changed into the Infinitive.

  1. a)    Direct: Rafique said to Ahmed, “Go away.”
  2. b)    Indirect: Rafique ordered Ahmed to go 
  3. c)    Direct: He said to her, “Please wait.”
  4. d)    Indirect: He requested her to wait.

Exclamations and Wishes

Indirect Speech is introduced by some words like grief, sorrow, happiness, applaud. Exclamatory sentence changes into assertive sentence and Interjections are removed.

  1. a)    Direct: He said, “Alas! I am undone.”
  2. b)    Indirect: He exclaimed sadly that he was broke.


Tip 7: Change of Pronouns

The first person of the reported speech changes according to the subject of reporting speech.

  1. a)    Direct: She said, “I am in ninth class.”
  2. b)    Indirect: She says that she was in ninth class.

The second person of reported speech changes according to the object of reporting speech.

  1. a)    Direct: He says to them, “You have completed your
  2. b)    Indirect: He tells them that they have completed their 

The third person of the reported speech doesn’t change.

  1. a)    Direct: He says, “She is in tenth class.”
  2. b)    Indirect: He says that she is in tenth class.


Tip 8: Change of Place and Time

Words expressing nearness in time or place in Direct Speech are generally changed into words expressing distance in Indirect Speech.

Now — then

Here — there

Ago — before

Thus — so

Today — that day

Tomorrow — the next day

This — that

Yesterday — the day before

These — those

Hither– thither

Come — go

Hence — thence

Next week/month — following week/month

  1. a)    Direct: She said, “My father came ”
  2. b)    Indirect: She said that her father had come the day before.
  3. c)    Direct: She says/will say, “My father came 

Indirect: She says/will say that her father had come yesterday(Here the reporting verb ‘says’ is in the present tense OR ‘will say’ is in future tense; hence the time expression ‘yesterday’ won’t change.)


Tip 9: Punctuation

The words that are actually spoken should be enclosed in quotes and begin with a capital letter

Example: He said, “You are right.”

Comma, full stop, question mark, or exclamation mark must be present at the end of reported sentences and are placed inside the closing inverted comma or commas.

Example: He asked, “Can I come with you?”

If direct speech comes after the information about who is speaking, comma is used to introduce the piece of speech, placed before the first inverted comma.

Example: She shouted, “Stop talking!”

Example: “Thinking back,” she said, “he didn’t expect to win.” (Comma is used to separate the two reported speech and no capital letter to begin the second sentence).


Tip 10: Conversion of Indirect to Direct Speech

  1. Use the reporting verb, “say” or “said to” in its correct tense.
  2. Remove the conjunctions “that, to, if or whether etc” wherever necessary.
  3. Insert quotation marks, question mark, exclamation and full stop, as per the mood of the sentence.
  4. Put a comma before the statement.
  5. Write the first word of the statement with capital letter.
  6. Change the past tense into present tense wherever the reporting verb is in the past tense.
  7. Convert the past perfect either into past tense or present perfect as found necessary.


  1. a)    Indirect: He asked whether he is coming.
  2. b)    Direct: He said to him, “Are you coming?”


Spot the Errors:


Each of the following sentences will contain a mistake in the usage of Direct and Indirect Speech. See if you can spot that mistake.


Direct: The boy said, “I’m happy with my results.”

Indirect: The boy said that he is happy with his results. (Incorrect)

Indirect: The boy said that he was happy with his results. (Correct)


Direct: She said, “I have baked a cake.”

Indirect: She said (that) she baked a cake. (Incorrect)

Indirect: She said (that) she had baked a cake. (Correct)


Direct: He said, “All people have equal rights.”

Indirect: He said that all people had equal rights. (Incorrect)

Indirect: He said that all people have equal rights. (Correct)


Direct: Roshni said, “I may meet him here”.

Indirect: Roshni said that she may meet him here. (Incorrect)

Indirect: Roshni said that she might meet him there. (Correct)


Direct: She says, “I will go to school tomorrow.”

Indirect: She says that she would go to school the day after. (Incorrect)

Indirect: She says that she will go to school tomorrow. (Correct)


Direct: He said, “She is coming this week to discuss this.”

Indirect: He said that she was coming this week to discuss this. (Incorrect)

Indirect: He said that she was coming that week to discuss it. (Correct)


Direct: He said to them, “Will you come for dinner?”

Indirect: He said to them will they come for dinner? (Incorrect)

Indirect: He asked them whether they would come for dinner.(Correct)


Direct: The teacher said, “Be quiet and listen to my words.”

Indirect: The teacher said them to be quiet and listen to my words. (Incorrect)

Indirect: The teacher urged /ordered them to be quiet and listen to his words. (Correct)


Direct: The old man said, “Ah! I am ruined.”

Indirect: The old man said that Ah he was ruined! (Incorrect)

Indirect: The old man exclaimed with sorrow that he was ruined.


Indirect: The policeman enquired where we were going.

Direct: The policeman enquired where are you going. (Incorrect)

Direct: The policeman said, “Where are you going?” (Correct)



1. Editing is generally done during proof reading.
2. It can be of two types – Error or Omission
3. A short text with is one error/omission in each line is given.
4. Numbered blanks are provided with each line for writing the corrected/omitted word.
5. Identify the error/omission keeping in mind the PPACTS rule.
6. PPACTS RULE – error/omission would be any of the following:
P – Preposition
P – Pronoun
A – Article/determiner
C – Conjunction
T – Tense/Verb Forms (singular/plural)
S – Spelling
7. After reading the passage, identify the tense and see whether it is appropriate to the context.
8. Check the subject-verb agreement.
9. Check the areas where word is missing in case of omission and check the errors as mentioned above for error correction.
10. Mention the answer against the given blank number.
11. In case of omission write the word before and the word after the omitted word along with the supplied word.
12. In case of error correction write the incorrect as well as the corrected word in two columns.

1.Edit the passage underlining the mistake present in every line by writing the correct word in the blank space.My day begins on five O’clock in the morning a) _____

It has been so since the last forty years b) ______

except for the two years of which I was c) _______

very ill. I wake up at the sound of an d) ______

alarm clock bought at 1952. e) _______

From then until today, it has never f) _______

let me down. My routine, however turns topsy-turvy

in holidays when I cannot sleep for ten O’clock. I have g) ______ maintained a fairly regular routine over my working years. h) _______

When I retire on two years’ time, I hope I will be i) _______

able to continue this practice.

2.The following passage is incomplete. One word has been omitted in every line against which there is a blank. Indicate the place where the word has to be inserted with a / and write the word in the space provided.

Parmesh and his friends planning a trip a) _____

during the summer vacations. While all of them b) _____

keen to get away from the heat, none them were able to suggest which place to visit. c) _____

It only draw of lots which could finally decide the matter. d) _____

They decided on Ooty as it neither too far away nor too crowded.

e) _____

The date of departure and the duration of their stay still to be decided. f) _____

The announcement of their final exam date sheet still two weeks away. g) _____

Until then, each of them resolved h) _____

collect information about hill station. i) _____

3.Underline each error and write the correction in the space provided.

One morning, the Nawab call a) _________

his minister and said him b) _________

that I wanted the length and c) _________

breadth from the earth d) _________

measured. He also feel the e) _________

need to have the stars on the f) _________

sky counted. The minister says g) _________

that the task he have been h) _________

set being impossible. i) _________

4.The following passage has not been edited. There is an error in each line against which there is a blank. Underline each error and write your correction in the space provided.

I entered the manager’s office and sat down.

I have just lost five hundred rupees and I felt very upset. a) ______

“I leave the money in my desk,” I said, b) ______

“and it is not there now”. The manager was very sympathetic

but he can do nothing. “Everyone loses money these days”, c) ______

he said, He start to complain about this wicked world, d) ______

but is interrupted by a knock at the door. e) ______

A girl came in and puts an envelope on his desk. f) ______

It contains five hundred rupees. “I found this g) ______

outside this gentleman’s room,” she said.

“Well! I say to the manager, “there is still some h) ______

honesty in this world !”

1. a) on – at
b) has – had c) for –  of
d) at – by     e) at- in
f) from – since
g) for – till
h) over – during
i) on – after

2. word before     missing word       word after
a)friends                are                  planning
b) them                  are                   keen
c) none                   of                   them
d) only                    was                 draw
e) it                      was                    neither
f) stay                    is                       still
g) sheet                   is                       still
h) them                   are                     resolved
i) _                        to                       collect

3. a) call – called
b) said him- said to him
c) i – he
d) from – of
e) feel – felt
f) on  – in
g) says – said
h) have – has
i) being – is

4. a) have – had
b) leave – left

c) can – could
d) start – started
e) is – was
f) puts – put
g) contains – contained
h) say – said