Reported Speech (Indirect Speech)

Exercises on reported speech.

If we report what another person has said, we usually do not use the speaker’s exact words (direct speech), but reported (indirect) speech. Therefore, you need to learn how to transform direct speech into reported speech. The structure is a little different depending on whether you want to transform a statement, question or request.

When transforming statements, check whether you have to change:

  • present tense verbs (3rd person singular)
  • place and time expressions
  • tenses (backshift)
Type Example
“I speak English.”
He says that he speaks English.
He said that he spoke English.

→ more on statements in reported speech

When transforming questions, check whether you have to change:

Also note that you have to:

  • transform the question into an indirect question
  • use the interrogative or if / whether
TypeExample
“Why don’t you speak English?”
He asked me why I didn’t speak English.
“Do you speak English?”
He asked me whether / if I spoke English.

→ more on questions in reported speech

Type Example
“Carol, speak English.“
He told Carol to speak English.

→ more on requests in reported speech

Additional Information and Exeptions

Apart from the above mentioned basic rules, there are further aspects that you should keep in mind, for example:

  • main clauses connected with and / but
  • tense of the introductory clause
  • reported speech for difficult tenses
  • exeptions for backshift
  • requests with must , should , ought to and let’s

→ more on additional information and exeptions in reported speech

Statements in Reported Speech

  • no backshift – change of pronouns
  • no backshift – change of pronouns and places
  • with backshift
  • with backshift and change of place and time expressions

Questions in Reported Speech

Requests in reported speech.

  • Exercise 1 – requests (positive)
  • Exercise 2 – requests (negative)
  • Exercise 3 – requests (mixed)

Mixed Exercises on Reported Speech

  • Exercise on reported speech with and without backshift

Grammar in Texts

  • „ The Canterville Ghost “ (highlight direct speech and reported speech)

Conversion of time phrases in Reported speech – Exercise

Task no. 2321.

If the introductory sentence is in Simple Past, there is backshift of tenses. The time phrases are also changed. Choose the correct time phrases from the drop down menu.

Do you need help?

Reported Speech (Indirect Speech) in English – Summary

  • today → a week before that day that morning the day before the following week the next day the week before the weekend before then those days
  • yesterday → a week before that day that morning the day before the following week the next day the week before the weekend before then those days
  • tomorrow → a week before that day that morning the day before the following week the next day the week before the weekend before then those days
  • a week ago → a week before that day that morning the day before the following week the next day the week before the weekend before then those days
  • last weekend → a week before that day that morning the day before the following week the next day the week before the weekend before then those days
  • next week → a week before that day that morning the day before the following week the next day the week before the weekend before then those days
  • these days → a week before that day that morning the day before the following week the next day the week before the weekend before then those days
  • last week → a week before that day that morning the day before the following week the next day the week before the weekend before then those days
  • now → a week before that day that morning the day before the following week the next day the week before the weekend before then those days
  • this morning → a week before that day that morning the day before the following week the next day the week before the weekend before then those days
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Reported Speech

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Reported Statements

Here's how it works:

We use a 'reporting verb' like 'say' or 'tell'. ( Click here for more about using 'say' and 'tell' .) If this verb is in the present tense, it's easy. We just put 'she says' and then the sentence:

  • Direct speech: I like ice cream.
  • Reported speech: She says (that) she likes ice cream.

We don't need to change the tense, though probably we do need to change the 'person' from 'I' to 'she', for example. We also may need to change words like 'my' and 'your'. (As I'm sure you know, often, we can choose if we want to use 'that' or not in English. I've put it in brackets () to show that it's optional. It's exactly the same if you use 'that' or if you don't use 'that'.)

But , if the reporting verb is in the past tense, then usually we change the tenses in the reported speech:

  • Reported speech: She said (that) she liked ice cream.
present simple I like ice cream She said (that) she liked ice cream.
present continuous I am living in London She said (that) she was living in London.
past simple I bought a car She said (that) she had bought a car OR She said (that) she bought a car.
past continuous I was walking along the street She said (that) she had been walking along the street.
present perfect I haven't seen Julie She said (that) she hadn't seen Julie.
past perfect* I had taken English lessons before She said (that) she had taken English lessons before.
will I'll see you later She said (that) she would see me later.
would* I would help, but... She said (that) she would help but...
can I can speak perfect English She said (that) she could speak perfect English.
could* I could swim when I was four She said (that) she could swim when she was four.
shall I shall come later She said (that) she would come later.
should* I should call my mother She said (that) she should call her mother
might* I might be late She said (that) she might be late
must I must study at the weekend She said (that) she must study at the weekend OR She said she had to study at the weekend

* doesn't change.

  • Direct speech: The sky is blue.
  • Reported speech: She said (that) the sky is/was blue.

Click here for a mixed tense exercise about practise reported statements. Click here for a list of all the reported speech exercises.

Reported Questions

So now you have no problem with making reported speech from positive and negative sentences. But how about questions?

  • Direct speech: Where do you live?
  • Reported speech: She asked me where I lived.
  • Direct speech: Where is Julie?
  • Reported speech: She asked me where Julie was.
Where is the Post Office, please? She asked me where the Post Office was.
What are you doing? She asked me what I was doing.
Who was that fantastic man? She asked me who that fantastic man had been.
  • Direct speech: Do you like chocolate?
  • Reported speech: She asked me if I liked chocolate.
Do you love me? He asked me if I loved him.
Have you ever been to Mexico? She asked me if I had ever been to Mexico.
Are you living here?
She asked me if I was living here.

Click here to practise reported 'wh' questions. Click here to practise reported 'yes / no' questions. Reported Requests

There's more! What if someone asks you to do something (in a polite way)? For example:

  • Direct speech: Close the window, please
  • Or: Could you close the window please?
  • Or: Would you mind closing the window please?
  • Reported speech: She asked me to close the window.
Please help me. She asked me to help her.
Please don't smoke. She asked me not to smoke.
Could you bring my book tonight? She asked me to bring her book that night.
Could you pass the milk, please? She asked me to pass the milk.
Would you mind coming early tomorrow? She asked me to come early the next day.
  • Direct speech: Please don't be late.
  • Reported speech: She asked us not to be late.

Reported Orders

  • Direct speech: Sit down!
  • Reported speech: She told me to sit down.
Go to bed! He told the child to go to bed.
Don't worry! He told her not to worry.
Be on time! He told me to be on time.
Don't smoke! He told us not to smoke.
  • Click here for an exercise to practise reported requests and orders.
nowthen / at that time
todayyesterday / that day / Tuesday / the 27th of June
yesterdaythe day before yesterday / the day before / Wednesday / the 5th of December
last nightthe night before, Thursday night
last weekthe week before / the previous week
tomorrowtoday / the next day / the following day / Friday
  • Click here for an exercise about using 'say' and 'tell'.
  • Click here for a list of all the reported speech exercises.

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Reported Speech in English Grammar

Direct speech, changing the tense (backshift), no change of tenses, question sentences, demands/requests, expressions with who/what/how + infinitive, typical changes of time and place.

  • Lingolia Plus English

Introduction

In English grammar, we use reported speech to say what another person has said. We can use their exact words with quotation marks , this is known as direct speech , or we can use indirect speech . In indirect speech , we change the tense and pronouns to show that some time has passed. Indirect speech is often introduced by a reporting verb or phrase such as ones below.

Learn the rules for writing indirect speech in English with Lingolia’s simple explanation. In the exercises, you can test your grammar skills.

Mandy is sitting in the café where James works. He tells her, “I work in this café almost every day. But yesterday I saw a famous TV presenter here for the first time. She was eating an ice-cream at the table where you are sitting now.”
A week later, Mandy is speaking to a friend on the phone, “I saw James at the café last week. He said that .”

When turning direct speech into indirect speech, we need to pay attention to the following points:

  • changing the pronouns Example: He said, “ I saw a famous TV presenter.” He said (that) he had seen a famous TV presenter.
  • changing the information about time and place (see the table at the end of this page) Example: He said, “I saw a famous TV presenter here yesterday .” He said (that) he had seen a famous TV presenter there the day before .
  • changing the tense (backshift) Example: He said, “She was eating an ice-cream at the table where you are sitting .” He said (that) she had been eating an ice-cream at the table where I was sitting .

If the introductory clause is in the simple past (e.g. He said ), the tense has to be set back by one degree (see the table). The term for this in English is backshift .

direct speech indirect speech
simple present simple past
present progressive past progressive
simple past past perfect simple
present perfect simple
past perfect simple
past progressive past perfect progressive
present perfect progressive
past perfect progressive
future (going to) was / were going to
future (will) conditional (would)
conditional (would)

The verbs could, should, would, might, must, needn’t, ought to, used to normally do not change.

If the introductory clause is in the simple present , however (e.g. He says ), then the tense remains unchanged, because the introductory clause already indicates that the statement is being immediately repeated (and not at a later point in time).

In some cases, however, we have to change the verb form.

When turning questions into indirect speech, we have to pay attention to the following points:

  • As in a declarative sentence, we have to change the pronouns, the time and place information, and set the tense back ( backshift ).
  • Instead of that , we use a question word. If there is no question word, we use whether / if instead. Example: She asked him, “ How often do you work?” → She asked him how often he worked. He asked me, “Do you know any famous people?” → He asked me if/whether I knew any famous people.
  • We put the subject before the verb in question sentences. (The subject goes after the auxiliary verb in normal questions.) Example: I asked him, “ Have you met any famous people before?” → I asked him if/whether he had met any famous people before.
  • We don’t use the auxiliary verb do for questions in indirect speech. Therefore, we sometimes have to conjugate the main verb (for third person singular or in the simple past ). Example: I asked him, “What do you want to tell me?” → I asked him what he wanted to tell me.
  • We put the verb directly after who or what in subject questions. Example: I asked him, “ Who is sitting here?” → I asked him who was sitting there.

We don’t just use indirect questions to report what another person has asked. We also use them to ask questions in a very polite manner.

When turning demands and requests into indirect speech, we only need to change the pronouns and the time and place information. We don’t have to pay attention to the tenses – we simply use an infinitive .

If it is a negative demand, then in indirect speech we use not + infinitive .

To express what someone should or can do in reported speech, we leave out the subject and the modal verb and instead we use the construction who/what/where/how + infinitive.

direct speechindirect speech
today that day
now then
at that moment/time
yesterday the day before
… days ago … days before
last week the week before
next year the following year
tomorrow the next day
the following day
here there
this that
these those

Say or Tell?

The words say and tell are not interchangeable. say = say something tell = say something to someone

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Transformation of Sentence: Direct & Indirect Speech

A direct speech can be transformed into an indirect speech and vice versa using a suitable reporting verb and a linker depending on the sentence. Let’s have an example first.

Direct Speech

Tinasaid“Are you busy now?”

Indirect Speech

TinaaskedwhetherI was busy then.

List of Reporting verbs and linkers (list 1)

Said, toldThat

1. Yes-no question
2. Wh-question
Asked, wanted to know, enquiredIf / whether
Asked, wanted to know, enquiredwh-word

1. Without ‘Let’
2. With ‘Let’
Told, ordered, advised, requested, askedto / not to
Suggested, proposedthat
Wished, prayedthat
Exclaimed in joy / sorrow / wonder / fear / disgust etc.that

Verbs of Reported speech (if the reporting verb is in past tense) (list 2) Direct speech → Indirect speech Am / is / are →  was / were Was / were → had been Has / have → had Had → had had Shall / will → would Can → could May → might Must, should → must, should Verb1 → verb2 Verb2 → had + verb3

Change of time and place expressions in past tense (list 3) now → then ago → before today → that day yesterday → the previous day tomorrow → the next day last night → the previous night here → there this → that these → those

Narration change of Assertive sentence

Narration change of interrogative sentence, narration change of imperative sentence, narration change of optative sentence, narration change of exclamatory sentence, narration change of vocatives, narration change of question tag.

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convert to reported speech online

English Grammar Online Exercises and Downloadable Worksheets

Online exercises.

  • Reported Speech

Levels of Difficulty : Elementary Intermediate Advanced

  • RS012 - Reported Speech Intermediate
  • RS011 - Reported Speech Intermediate
  • RS010 - Reporting Verbs Advanced
  • RS009 - Reporting Verbs Advanced
  • RS008 - Reporting Verbs Advanced
  • RS007 - Reporting Verbs Intermediate
  • RS006 - Reported Speech Intermediate
  • RS005 - Reported Speech - Introductory Verbs Advanced
  • RS004 - Reported Speech Intermediate
  • RS003 - Reporting Verbs Intermediate
  • RS002 - Reported Speech Intermediate
  • RS001 - Reported Speech Intermediate
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Changing Direct Speech to Indirect Speech

If you have ever thought about how to change direct speech into indirect speech, this tutorial will provide a comprehensive guide on how to do so effectively. In English Grammar, the process of converting direct speech into indirect speech, known as 'reported speech,' consists of various rules that one must understand and appropriately apply. Do not worry if you are a beginner at this; by the end of this tutorial, you will be confident in changing direct speech into indirect speech.

Table of Contents

Understanding Direct and Indirect Speech

Before jumping into the transformation process, let's first define what Direct and Indirect Speech are:

Direct Speech:

Direct Speech refers to the exact wording used by a person to convey a message or share information. It typically involves using quotations to denote the speaker's words. An example of direct speech is: She said, "I am hungry."

Indirect Speech:

On the other hand, Indirect Speech, also known as Reported Speech, involves reporting what someone has said without necessarily using the exact wording. In this case, quotations are not used. Using the same content from the direct speech example, the indirect speech would be: She said that she was hungry.

Types of Sentences in Direct and Indirect Speech

Direct and Indirect Speech can occur in five different types of sentences: statements, commands, requests, questions, and exclamations. Each of these sentence types has specific rules associated with their transformation.

Rules for Changing Direct Speech into Indirect Speech

The initial step in changing direct speech to reported speech involves understanding specific rules. The following are some general guidelines to consider:

Rule 1: Change the verb tense in the quoted speech. With past tense reporting verbs, shift the tense back. For example, if the direct speech is in the present simple, shift it to the past simple in the reported speech. Hence, "He says, 'I am busy'" will change to "He said he was busy."

Rule 2: Adjust pronouns and time/place words as necessary. The pronoun may change according to the subject of reporting speech. Thus, "She says, 'I enjoy reading'" will become "She said she enjoyed reading."

Rule 3: Remove the quotation marks. Reported speech does not use direct quotations, so delete the quotes when converting the speech. For instance, "I am happy," he said will become He said he was happy.

For Statements

When reporting statements, use that to connect the reported speech. Keep in mind that that is often omitted in conversation. Remember to change the tense and adjust pronouns as necessary. For example, direct speech: He said, "I am tired." Indirect speech: He said that he was tired.

For Commands and Requests

Change commands and requests from direct to indirect speech using to for commands and to kindly for requests. Adjust the tense as appropriate. For example, direct command: "Come here!" said the mother. Indirect command: The mother told him to come there.

For Questions

When converting questions, use if or whether. Adjust the tense of the verb and do not use question marks. For example, direct question: She asked, "Are you feeling well?" Indirect question: She asked if he was feeling well.

For Exclamations

Exclamations and wishes are reported with words like exclaimed or wished, and the exclamatory words are often re-phrased. For example, direct exclamation: "How beautiful the rainbow is!" he exclaimed. Indirect exclamation: He exclaimed that the rainbow was very beautiful.

By focusing on each rule while learning, you can understand the context of direct and indirect speech and hone your skills in English grammar. With continual practice and use of these guidelines, you will find yourself becoming increasingly comfortable with converting direct speech to indirect.

Remember, though knowledge about theoretical rules is essential, it is ultimately practice and implementation that will help you master this segment of English grammar. Good luck with your continuous learning journey!

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Reported Speech / Indirect Speech

Direct speech:, indirect speech / reported speech:, convert direct speech to indirect speech.

Pronouns and possessive adjectivesWe usually change from first or second to third person except when the speaker is reporting his own words.
that day
the day before (the previous day)
Tomorrow / the next dayThe following day
The day before yesterdayTwo days before / earlier
Yesterday morningThe previous morning
A year / month / week agoA year before / earlier
The day after tomorrowIn two days' time
Next week / month / yearThe following week / month / year
nowthen
tonightthat night
herehere / there
thisthat, it
thesethose
cancould
would
could
might
mightmight
have to / has tohad to
mustmust
ought to / shouldought to / should

Indirect Speech Statements

Mixed types, common verbs used with reported speech.

Add

boast
complain

observe

reply

Announce

deny
point out

scream

Answer

grumble

promise
shout

Argue

inform
Assure + Object

murmur

remark
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Reported speech

Speech can be direct and indirect, or reported. 

When you express your thought orally or in writing, it is direct speech. We usually put it in quotes.

When you communicate what someone else said, it is reported speech.

Reported statements

Sue: "I am hungry."

Sue says (that)  she is hungry.

To transfer a positive or a negative sentence to reported speech, we need two parts:

  • the main part (she says that... / he claims that... / they deny that...),
  • the dependent part which is the transformed direct speech.

Pay attention

In the reported speech, we must replace the pronouns. Otherwise, we won't keep the meaning.

Mary: "I am glad to help you!"

Mary says she is glad to help me . BUT NOT Mary says I am glad to help you.

You should also be careful with  time indicators (today, now, next week etc.) not to lose the idea of the original direct statement.

The word  that  can be used or left out, both options are correct.

Backshift of tenses in reported speech

When we have a sentence that consists of the main and the dependent part we need to be careful with the verb tenses. The tense in the main part affects the tense in the dependent part. This is called backshifting.

If the main part is in the present simple (e.g., "she says...", "he tells me..."), the dependent part remains unchanged.

John: "I have just got up."

John says he has just got up. "Says" is the present simple → no backshifting

If the main part is in the  past simple, we have to do the backshifting. Its basic principle is that the past simple in the main part "pushes" the tense of the dependent part one step back in time. This way we balance both parts of the sentence.

tensechanges todirect speechhe said...
present simple → past simple I don't have a pen He he a pen
present continuous → past continuous I am having a shower He he a shower
present perfect → past perfect I haven't finished yet He said he yet
past simple → past perfect OR
doesn't change
I didn't like the film He said he hadn't liked the film OR
He said he didn't like the film
past continuous → past perfect continuous I was reading a book He said he a book
will → would I will help you He said he me
can → could I can ride a horse He said he a horse

You can view the topic ' reported statements ' with an explanation and exercises.

Reported questions

If the direct question began with a question word (when, what, how, why and so on), then in the reported speech:

  • the sentence changes from question to positive, with a direct word order
  • we need to do the backshifting if we have the past simple in the main part

"Why did you leave the door open?" → She asked me why I had left the door open.

"Where have you been?" → She asked me where I had been.

If the direct question didn't have a question word (it was a yes/no question), we add the word "if" to transform it into reported speech. The rules of backshifting are the same.

"Will it rain tomorrow?" → They wanted to know if it would rain the next day.

"Can I lend your pen for a second?" → I asked if I could lend his pen for a second.

You can also view the topic ' reported questions ' for a detailed explanation and exercises.

Reported requests and demands

If we want to transform somebody's demand or request into reported speech, we say:

  • tell somebody to do something — for reported commands
  • ask somebody to do something — for reported requests

If the imperative was negative (don't go, don't do), we put "not" before "to":  tell somebody not to do something.

"Do not cross the red line, please!" → The officer told us not to cross the red line.

"Could you put the flowers in the vase, please?" → She asked me to put the flowers in the vase.

You can also view the topic ' reported requests & demands ' for a detailed explanation and exercises.

convert to reported speech online

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Reported Speech Quiz

In this reported speech quiz you get to practice online turning direct speech into indirect speech.

Remember that to turn direct speech to reported speech you need to use backshifting with the tenses. So for example, the present simple turns to the past simple and the past simple turns to the past perfect. Pronouns can also change.

It can be difficult if you are new to it, so if you are unsure of how to do it, before taking the quiz check out the reported speech tense conversion rules . 

  • John said, "I want to see a film".
  • Tina said, "I am tired".
  • He said, "Tom hit me very hard".
  • I said, "I feel happy".
  • She said, "We are learning English".
  • Sandra said, "I liked him a lot".
  • He said, "We all eat meat".
  • Max said, "I will help".
  • Gene said, "I must leave early".
  • She said, "I had tried everything".

More on Reported Speech:

These present perfect tense exercises will improve your skills at using this tense. Place your answer into the box and click to check your score.

Present Perfect Tense Exercises - Quizzes to improve your grammar

These present perfect tense exercises will improve your skills at using this tense. Place your answer into the box and click to check your score.

Interactive Future Perfect Continuous Negative Quiz - Online activity gap fill. Put the words in brackets into the correct tense. Check your answers.

Future Perfect Continuous Negative Quiz: Gap Fill

Interactive Future Perfect Continuous Negative Quiz - Online activity gap fill. Put the words in brackets into the correct tense. Check your answers.

This active and passive voice quiz provides practice in changing the active voice into the passive voice.

Active and Passive Voice Quiz - Practice changing voice

This active and passive voice quiz provides practice in changing the active voice into the passive voice.

This relative pronoun quiz focuses on the words who, which, whom, whose, that, where. These are used to introduce relative clauses.

Relative Pronoun Quiz: who, which, whom, whose, that, where

This relative pronoun quiz focuses on the words who, which, whom, whose, that, where. These are used to introduce relative clauses.

In this There, Their, or They're Quiz, you have to choose which word correctly fits into the gap.

There, Their, or They're Quiz: Multiple Choice

In this There, Their, or They're Quiz, you have to choose which word correctly fits into the gap.

Past simple exercises so you can practice this tense They are available online but can also be downloaded as a PDF to print off and use in class.

Past Simple Exercises - Regular Verbs: Gap Fill

Past simple exercises so you can practice this tense They are available online but can also be downloaded as a PDF to print off and use in class.

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Reported Speech – Rules, Examples

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| Candace Osmond

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

They say gossip is a natural part of human life. That’s why language has evolved to develop grammatical rules about the “he said” and “she said” statements. We call them reported speech.

Every time we use reported speech in English, we are talking about something said by someone else in the past. Thinking about it brings me back to high school, when reported speech was the main form of language!

Learn all about the definition, rules, and examples of reported speech as I go over everything. I also included a worksheet at the end of the article so you can test your knowledge of the topic.

What Does Reported Speech Mean?

Grammarist Article Graphic V3 2022 10 25T162134.388

Reported speech is a term we use when telling someone what another person said. You can do this while speaking or writing.

There are two kinds of reported speech you can use: direct speech and indirect speech. I’ll break each down for you.

A direct speech sentence mentions the exact words the other person said. For example:

  • Kryz said, “These are all my necklaces.”

Indirect speech changes the original speaker’s words. For example:

  • Kryz said those were all her necklaces.

When we tell someone what another individual said, we use reporting verbs like told, asked, convinced, persuaded, and said. We also change the first-person figure in the quotation into the third-person speaker.

Reported Speech Examples

We usually talk about the past every time we use reported speech. That’s because the time of speaking is already done. For example:

  • Direct speech: The employer asked me, “Do you have experience with people in the corporate setting?”

Indirect speech: The employer asked me if I had experience with people in the corporate setting.

  • Direct speech: “I’m working on my thesis,” I told James.

Indirect speech: I told James that I was working on my thesis.

Reported Speech Structure

A speech report has two parts: the reporting clause and the reported clause. Read the example below:

  • Harry said, “You need to help me.”

The reporting clause here is William said. Meanwhile, the reported clause is the 2nd clause, which is I need your help.

What are the 4 Types of Reported Speech?

Aside from direct and indirect, reported speech can also be divided into four. The four types of reported speech are similar to the kinds of sentences: imperative, interrogative, exclamatory, and declarative.

Reported Speech Rules

The rules for reported speech can be complex. But with enough practice, you’ll be able to master them all.

Choose Whether to Use That or If

The most common conjunction in reported speech is that. You can say, “My aunt says she’s outside,” or “My aunt says that she’s outside.”

Use if when you’re reporting a yes-no question. For example:

  • Direct speech: “Are you coming with us?”

Indirect speech: She asked if she was coming with them.

Verb Tense Changes

Change the reporting verb into its past form if the statement is irrelevant now. Remember that some of these words are irregular verbs, meaning they don’t follow the typical -d or -ed pattern. For example:

  • Direct speech: I dislike fried chicken.

Reported speech: She said she disliked fried chicken.

Note how the main verb in the reported statement is also in the past tense verb form.

Use the simple present tense in your indirect speech if the initial words remain relevant at the time of reporting. This verb tense also works if the report is something someone would repeat. For example:

  • Slater says they’re opening a restaurant soon.
  • Maya says she likes dogs.

This rule proves that the choice of verb tense is not a black-and-white question. The reporter needs to analyze the context of the action.

Move the tense backward when the reporting verb is in the past tense. That means:

  • Present simple becomes past simple.
  • Present perfect becomes past perfect.
  • Present continuous becomes past continuous.
  • Past simple becomes past perfect.
  • Past continuous becomes past perfect continuous.

Here are some examples:

  • The singer has left the building. (present perfect)

He said that the singers had left the building. (past perfect)

  • Her sister gave her new shows. (past simple)
  • She said that her sister had given her new shoes. (past perfect)

If the original speaker is discussing the future, change the tense of the reporting verb into the past form. There’ll also be a change in the auxiliary verbs.

  • Will or shall becomes would.
  • Will be becomes would be.
  • Will have been becomes would have been.
  • Will have becomes would have.

For example:

  • Direct speech: “I will be there in a moment.”

Indirect speech: She said that she would be there in a moment.

Do not change the verb tenses in indirect speech when the sentence has a time clause. This rule applies when the introductory verb is in the future, present, and present perfect. Here are other conditions where you must not change the tense:

  • If the sentence is a fact or generally true.
  • If the sentence’s verb is in the unreal past (using second or third conditional).
  • If the original speaker reports something right away.
  • Do not change had better, would, used to, could, might, etc.

Changes in Place and Time Reference

Changing the place and time adverb when using indirect speech is essential. For example, now becomes then and today becomes that day. Here are more transformations in adverbs of time and places.

  • This – that.
  • These – those.
  • Now – then.
  • Here – there.
  • Tomorrow – the next/following day.
  • Two weeks ago – two weeks before.
  • Yesterday – the day before.

Here are some examples.

  • Direct speech: “I am baking cookies now.”

Indirect speech: He said he was baking cookies then.

  • Direct speech: “Myra went here yesterday.”

Indirect speech: She said Myra went there the day before.

  • Direct speech: “I will go to the market tomorrow.”

Indirect speech: She said she would go to the market the next day.

Using Modals

Grammarist Article Graphic V3 2022 10 25T162624.255

If the direct speech contains a modal verb, make sure to change them accordingly.

  • Will becomes would
  • Can becomes could
  • Shall becomes should or would.
  • Direct speech: “Will you come to the ball with me?”

Indirect speech: He asked if he would come to the ball with me.

  • Direct speech: “Gina can inspect the room tomorrow because she’s free.”

Indirect speech: He said Gina could inspect the room the next day because she’s free.

However, sometimes, the modal verb should does not change grammatically. For example:

  • Direct speech: “He should go to the park.”

Indirect speech: She said that he should go to the park.

Imperative Sentences

To change an imperative sentence into a reported indirect sentence, use to for imperative and not to for negative sentences. Never use the word that in your indirect speech. Another rule is to remove the word please . Instead, say request or say. For example:

  • “Please don’t interrupt the event,” said the host.

The host requested them not to interrupt the event.

  • Jonah told her, “Be careful.”
  • Jonah ordered her to be careful.

Reported Questions

When reporting a direct question, I would use verbs like inquire, wonder, ask, etc. Remember that we don’t use a question mark or exclamation mark for reports of questions. Below is an example I made of how to change question forms.

  • Incorrect: He asked me where I live?

Correct: He asked me where I live.

Here’s another example. The first sentence uses direct speech in a present simple question form, while the second is the reported speech.

  • Where do you live?

She asked me where I live.

Wrapping Up Reported Speech

My guide has shown you an explanation of reported statements in English. Do you have a better grasp on how to use it now?

Reported speech refers to something that someone else said. It contains a subject, reporting verb, and a reported cause.

Don’t forget my rules for using reported speech. Practice the correct verb tense, modal verbs, time expressions, and place references.

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Cambridge Dictionary

  • Cambridge Dictionary +Plus

Reported speech: indirect speech

Indirect speech focuses more on the content of what someone said rather than their exact words. In indirect speech , the structure of the reported clause depends on whether the speaker is reporting a statement, a question or a command.

direct

indirect

reported clause

statement

) I was tired.

-clause

question

.

.

clause clause

clause

command

.

-infinitive clause

Indirect speech: reporting statements

Indirect reports of statements consist of a reporting clause and a that -clause. We often omit that , especially in informal situations:

The pilot commented that the weather had been extremely bad as the plane came in to land. (The pilot’s words were: ‘The weather was extremely bad as the plane came in to land.’ )
I told my wife I didn’t want a party on my 50th birthday. ( that -clause without that ) (or I told my wife that I didn’t want a party on my 50th birthday .)

Indirect speech: reporting questions

Reporting yes-no questions and alternative questions.

Indirect reports of yes-no questions and questions with or consist of a reporting clause and a reported clause introduced by if or whether . If is more common than whether . The reported clause is in statement form (subject + verb), not question form:

She asked if [S] [V] I was Scottish. (original yes-no question: ‘Are you Scottish?’ )
The waiter asked whether [S] we [V] wanted a table near the window. (original yes-no question: ‘Do you want a table near the window? )
He asked me if [S] [V] I had come by train or by bus. (original alternative question: ‘Did you come by train or by bus?’ )

Questions: yes-no questions ( Are you feeling cold? )

Reporting wh -questions

Indirect reports of wh -questions consist of a reporting clause, and a reported clause beginning with a wh -word ( who, what, when, where, why, how ). We don’t use a question mark:

He asked me what I wanted.
Not: He asked me what I wanted?

The reported clause is in statement form (subject + verb), not question form:

She wanted to know who [S] we [V] had invited to the party.
Not: … who had we invited …

Who , whom and what

In indirect questions with who, whom and what , the wh- word may be the subject or the object of the reported clause:

I asked them who came to meet them at the airport. ( who is the subject of came ; original question: ‘Who came to meet you at the airport?’ )
He wondered what the repairs would cost. ( what is the object of cost ; original question: ‘What will the repairs cost?’ )
She asked us what [S] we [V] were doing . (original question: ‘What are you doing?’ )
Not: She asked us what were we doing?

When , where , why and how

We also use statement word order (subject + verb) with when , where, why and how :

I asked her when [S] it [V] had happened (original question: ‘When did it happen?’ ).
Not: I asked her when had it happened?
I asked her where [S] the bus station [V] was . (original question: ‘Where is the bus station?’ )
Not: I asked her where was the bus station?
The teacher asked them how [S] they [V] wanted to do the activity . (original question: ‘How do you want to do the activity?’ )
Not: The teacher asked them how did they want to do the activity?

Questions: wh- questions

Indirect speech: reporting commands

Indirect reports of commands consist of a reporting clause, and a reported clause beginning with a to -infinitive:

The General ordered the troops to advance . (original command: ‘Advance!’ )
The chairperson told him to sit down and to stop interrupting . (original command: ‘Sit down and stop interrupting!’ )

We also use a to -infinitive clause in indirect reports with other verbs that mean wanting or getting people to do something, for example, advise, encourage, warn :

They advised me to wait till the following day. (original statement: ‘You should wait till the following day.’ )
The guard warned us not to enter the area. (original statement: ‘You must not enter the area.’ )

Verbs followed by a to -infinitive

Indirect speech: present simple reporting verb

We can use the reporting verb in the present simple in indirect speech if the original words are still true or relevant at the time of reporting, or if the report is of something someone often says or repeats:

Sheila says they’re closing the motorway tomorrow for repairs.
Henry tells me he’s thinking of getting married next year.
Rupert says dogs shouldn’t be allowed on the beach. (Rupert probably often repeats this statement.)

Newspaper headlines

We often use the present simple in newspaper headlines. It makes the reported speech more dramatic:

JUDGE TELLS REPORTER TO LEAVE COURTROOM
PRIME MINISTER SAYS FAMILIES ARE TOP PRIORITY IN TAX REFORM

Present simple ( I work )

Reported speech

Reported speech: direct speech

Indirect speech: past continuous reporting verb

In indirect speech, we can use the past continuous form of the reporting verb (usually say or tell ). This happens mostly in conversation, when the speaker wants to focus on the content of the report, usually because it is interesting news or important information, or because it is a new topic in the conversation:

Rory was telling me the big cinema in James Street is going to close down. Is that true?
Alex was saying that book sales have gone up a lot this year thanks to the Internet.

‘Backshift’ refers to the changes we make to the original verbs in indirect speech because time has passed between the moment of speaking and the time of the report.

direct speech

indirect speech

not very happy at work.’

not very happy at work.

going home.’

going home.

be late.’

be late.

been working,’ she said.

.

to make her so angry?’ he asked.

to make her so angry.

In these examples, the present ( am ) has become the past ( was ), the future ( will ) has become the future-in-the-past ( would ) and the past ( happened ) has become the past perfect ( had happened ). The tenses have ‘shifted’ or ‘moved back’ in time.

direct

indirect

present simple

past simple

present continuous

past continuous

present perfect simple

past perfect simple

present perfect continuous

past perfect continuous

past simple

past perfect simple

past continuous

past perfect continuous

future (will)

future-in-the-past (would)

past perfect

past perfect (no change)

The past perfect does not shift back; it stays the same:

Direct speech

Indirect speech

already left.

Modal verbs

Some, but not all, modal verbs ‘shift back’ in time and change in indirect speech.

direct speech

indirect speech

change

be there,’ he promised.

be there.

becomes

need more money.’

I open it?’ she asked.

need more money.

open it.

usually becomes

in reported questions, becomes

see you at 2.30,’ he added.

see me at 2.30.

becomes

be back later,’ she said.

wait in the hallway,’ he said.

be back later.

wait in the hallway.

(possibility) becomes

(permission) becomes

pay by 30th April.’

be awful to live in such a noisy place,’ she said.

pay by 30th April.

be awful to live in such a noisy place.

(obligation) usually becomes

(speculation) does not change

sell it for about 2,000 euros,’ he said.

sell it for about 2,000 euros.

no change

go there immediately,’ she said.

go there immediately.

no change

buy it if I had the money,’ he said.

buy it if he had the money.

no change

snow tonight,’ he warned.

snow that night.

no change

come till six o’clock,’ he said.

come till six o’clock.

no change

We can use a perfect form with have + - ed form after modal verbs, especially where the report looks back to a hypothetical event in the past:

He said the noise might have been the postman delivering letters. (original statement: ‘The noise might be the postman delivering letters.’ )
He said he would have helped us if we’d needed a volunteer. (original statement: ‘I’ll help you if you need a volunteer’ or ‘I’d help you if you needed a volunteer.’ )

Used to and ought to do not change in indirect speech:

She said she used to live in Oxford. (original statement: ‘I used to live in Oxford.’ )
The guard warned us that we ought to leave immediately. (original statement: ‘You ought to leave immediately.’ )

No backshift

We don’t need to change the tense in indirect speech if what a person said is still true or relevant or has not happened yet. This often happens when someone talks about the future, or when someone uses the present simple, present continuous or present perfect in their original words:

He told me his brother works for an Italian company. (It is still true that his brother works for an Italian company.)
She said she ’s getting married next year. (For the speakers, the time at the moment of speaking is ‘this year’.)
He said he ’s finished painting the door. (He probably said it just a short time ago.)
She promised she ’ll help us. (The promise applies to the future.)

Indirect speech: changes to pronouns

Changes to personal pronouns in indirect reports depend on whether the person reporting the speech and the person(s) who said the original words are the same or different.

direct

indirect

don’t want to shock people,’ Tom said.

said he didn’t want to shock people.

different speakers ( changes to )

’ll look after Toby,’ I said.

said I would look after Toby.

same speaker (no change)

need to be here at nine o’clock,’ George told Beatrice.

told Beatrice she needed to be there at nine o’clock.

different speakers ( changes to )

hope you will join us tonight,’ I said to James.

told James I hoped he would join us that night.

same speaker (no change to ; changes to )

Indirect speech: changes to adverbs and demonstratives

We often change demonstratives ( this, that ) and adverbs of time and place ( now, here, today , etc.) because indirect speech happens at a later time than the original speech, and perhaps in a different place.

direct speech

indirect speech

.’

the next/following day.

this moment in time.’

.

.”

.

,’ the boy protested.

.

Typical changes to demonstratives, adverbs and adverbial expressions

direct

indirect

Indirect speech: typical errors

The word order in indirect reports of wh- questions is the same as statement word order (subject + verb), not question word order:

She always asks me where [S] [V] I am going .
Not: She always asks me where am I going .

We don’t use a question mark when reporting wh- questions:

I asked him what he was doing.
Not: I asked him what he was doing?

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A news anchor reading the news using reported speech.

100 Reported Speech Examples: How To Change Direct Speech Into Indirect Speech

Reported speech, also known as indirect speech, is a way of communicating what someone else has said without quoting their exact words. For example, if your friend said, “ I am going to the store ,” in reported speech, you might convey this as, “ My friend said he was going to the store. ” Reported speech is common in both spoken and written language, especially in storytelling, news reporting, and everyday conversations.

Reported Speech: Changing Pronouns

Pronouns are usually changed to match the perspective of the person reporting the speech. For example, “I” in direct speech may become “he” or “she” in reported speech, depending on the context. Here are some example sentences:

Reported Speech: Reporting Verbs

Reported speech: tense shifts.

When converting direct speech into reported speech, the verb tense is often shifted back one step in time. This is known as the “backshift” of tenses. It’s essential to adjust the tense to reflect the time elapsed between the original speech and the reporting. Here are some examples to illustrate how different tenses in direct speech are transformed in reported speech:

Reported Speech: Changing Time and Place References

Reported speech: question format.

When converting questions from direct speech into reported speech, the format changes significantly. Unlike statements, questions require rephrasing into a statement format and often involve the use of introductory verbs like ‘asked’ or ‘inquired’. Here are some examples to demonstrate how questions in direct speech are converted into statements in reported speech:

Reported Speech: Omitting Quotation Marks

Reported speech quiz.

Reported Speech

report

If we want to say what somebody has said, we basically have two options:

  • We can use the person's exact words - in quotation marks "..." if we are writing ( direct speech ).
  • We can change the person's words into our own words ( reported speech ).
direct speech
(exact words)
reported speech
(my words)
He said: "I love you." He said that he loved me.

In this lesson we learn about reported speech , the structure that we use when we report what another person has said, and reported speech rules.

Now we will look at:

  • Reported Statements
  • Time and Place
  • Reported Questions
  • Reported Requests
  • Reported Orders And then you can check your understanding of reported speech with...
  • Reported Speech Quiz

Reported speech is called "indirect speech" by some people. Other people regard reported speech simply as one form of indirect speech. Other forms are, for example:

  • questions-within-questions: Can you tell me if they are expensive?
  • mental processes: He believes that politics is a dirty game.

Daily Writing Tips

Converting direct speech into reported speech.

background image

I would be grateful if you could write about these two topics: Reported Speech and Indirect Speech.

To clarify, “Reported Speech” and “Indirect Speech” are the same thing.

I’ll assume that the reader intended to ask about the difference between Reported Speech and Direct Speech .

Direct speech consists of the exact words spoken by someone.

“I am glad to be here this evening.”

Indirect or Reported Speech consists of a report made of what was said by another.

The speaker said that she was glad to be there that evening.

Direct speech requires opening and closing quotation marks. Indirect speech is written without quotation marks.

Rules for reporting speech The report of what someone has said begins with an introductory clause and a conjunction:

The speaker said that . . . The witness asserted that . . . Robert Redford was overheard expressing the opinion that . . .

First person pronouns change to third person:

“I am glad…” becomes She or he was glad . . .

The verbs of the original quotation will change according to the sequence of tenses.

Present tense is changed to past:

“I am glad…” becomes she was glad . . .

Future tense is changed to conditional:

“I think that you will be glad too” becomes He thought the audience would be glad too.

Words that signify proximity in time or place change to corresponding words signifying distance away: now, today, yesterday, last week, here, these become then, that day, the day before, the previous week, there, those.

“The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.”

Lincoln said that the world would little note, nor long remember what speakers said there, but it could never forget what they had done there.

Sometimes explanatory words or phrases are added for the sake of readers who afterwards read the quoted speech. For example, the indirect quotation from Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address would be clearer with the insertion of additional information.

Lincoln said that the world would little note, nor long remember what speakers said at the Gettysburg battlefield commemoration, but it could never forget what the Union soldiers had done there.

Two other types of quotations require special handling: direct address and questions.

Direct address Sometimes speakers directly address the people listening to them.

“And, ladies, and gentlemen, we must be tireless guardians of our ideals, as well as our security.” [speech by Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III on the 20-year anniversary of the September 11, 2011 bombings in the United States.]

Secretary of Defense Austin told his listeners that Americans must be tireless guardians of their ideals, as well as their security.

Questions A question changed to an indirect quotation loses its question mark.

“How can you buy or sell the sky—the warmth of the land?” (purported words of Chief Seattle)

Chief Seattle asked how one could buy or sell the sky or the warmth of the land.

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2 thoughts on “Converting Direct Speech into Reported Speech”

You have neglected to highlight one of the most important points about reported questions and one with which foreigners (and recently, apparently, even many native speakers) have difficulty, which is the change in word order.

“How are you going to get here?”

Becomes: ‘she asked me how I was going to get there’, not

(apologies for premature posting)

*’she asked me how was I going to get there’

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  3. Online Reported Speech Converter

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  4. REPORTED SPEECH: Verb Tense Changes

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  6. Reported speech interactive and downloadable worksheet. Check your

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VIDEO

  1. Reported speech|Direct or indirect speech in English

  2. REPORTED SPEECH IN ENGLISH |Indirect speech

  3. Reported speech

  4. Reported Speech شرح مفصل لدرس القواعد

  5. how to convert Direct into indirect speech#Narration in english grammar

COMMENTS

  1. Reported Speech

    Therefore, you need to learn how to transform direct speech into reported speech. The structure is a little different depending on whether you want to transform a statement, question or request. Statements. When transforming statements, check whether you have to change: pronouns; present tense verbs (3rd person singular)

  2. Conversion of time phrases in Reported speech

    tomorrow →. a week ago →. last weekend →. next week →. these days →. last week →. now →. this morning →. Conversion of time phrases in Indirect/Reported speech in English, Simple Present, Simple Past - Free Online Exercise.

  3. Reported Speech

    Watch my reported speech video: Here's how it works: We use a 'reporting verb' like 'say' or 'tell'. ( Click here for more about using 'say' and 'tell' .) If this verb is in the present tense, it's easy. We just put 'she says' and then the sentence: Direct speech: I like ice cream. Reported speech: She says (that) she likes ice cream.

  4. Reported Speech in English Grammar

    Introduction. In English grammar, we use reported speech to say what another person has said. We can use their exact words with quotation marks, this is known as direct speech, or we can use indirect speech. In indirect speech, we change the tense and pronouns to show that some time has passed. Indirect speech is often introduced by a reporting ...

  5. Transformation of Sentence: Direct & Indirect Speech

    A direct speech can be transformed into an indirect speech and vice versa using a suitable reporting verb and a linker depending on the sentence. Let's have an example first. Tina said to me, "Are you busy now?" [direct speech] Tina asked me whether I was busy then. [indirect speech] Direct Speech. Speaker. Reporting verb. Direct speech ...

  6. Reported Speech

    RS007 - Reporting Verbs Intermediate. RS006 - Reported Speech Intermediate. RS005 - Reported Speech - Introductory Verbs Advanced. RS004 - Reported Speech Intermediate. RS003 - Reporting Verbs Intermediate. RS002 - Reported Speech Intermediate. RS001 - Reported Speech Intermediate. Reported Speech - English Grammar Exercises.

  7. Indirect speech

    What is indirect speech or reported speech? When we tell people what another person said or thought, we often use reported speech or indirect speech. To do that, we need to change verb tenses (present, past, etc.) and pronouns (I, you, my, your, etc.) if the time and speaker are different.For example, present tenses become past, I becomes he or she, and my becomes his or her, etc.

  8. Reported Speech Tenses Chart: How to convert tenses

    Reported speech tenses will change from that of the direct speech in most cases. This is known as backshifting in reported speech, with the basic rule that a tense is shifted back to its past tense form. This is because we are usually talking about something in the past. You can also watch a video of this lesson:

  9. Changing Direct Speech to Indirect Speech

    The following are some general guidelines to consider: Rule 1: Change the verb tense in the quoted speech. With past tense reporting verbs, shift the tense back. For example, if the direct speech is in the present simple, shift it to the past simple in the reported speech. Hence, "He says, 'I am busy'" will change to "He said he was busy."

  10. Reported Speech

    Convert Direct Speech to Indirect Speech A. Make the necessary tense shift: See Reported Speech Tense Shift B. Expressions of Time and Place in Reported Speech. Direct Speech: Indirect Speech: Pronouns and possessive adjectives: We usually change from first or second to third person except when the speaker is reporting his own words.

  11. Reported speech in English: explanation, examples

    Examples. "Do not cross the red line, please!" → The officer told us not to cross the red line. "Could you put the flowers in the vase, please?" → She asked me to put the flowers in the vase. You can also view the topic ' reported requests & demands ' for a detailed explanation and exercises.

  12. Reported Speech Quiz

    Instructions. In this reported speech quiz there are 10 direct speech statements. Turn them into reported speech. Make sure you use correct capitalisation and punctuation and that you include 'that'. For example: Mike said, "I am late". would be Mike said that he was late. John said, "I want to see a film". Tina said, "I am tired".

  13. Reported Speech

    For example: Direct speech: I dislike fried chicken. Reported speech: She said she disliked fried chicken. Note how the main verb in the reported statement is also in the past tense verb form. Use the simple present tense in your indirect speech if the initial words remain relevant at the time of reporting.

  14. Reported speech: indirect speech

    Reported speech: indirect speech - English Grammar Today - a reference to written and spoken English grammar and usage - Cambridge Dictionary

  15. Reported Speech Quiz

    Online quiz to test your understanding of English reported speech. This is a free multiple-choice quiz that you can do online or print out. ... Reported Speech Quiz. You can do this grammar quiz online or print it on paper. It tests what you learned on the Reported Speech pages. 1. Which is a reporting verb? tell go be a) tell b) go c) be. 2 ...

  16. 100 Reported Speech Examples: How To Change Direct Speech Into Indirect

    Direct: "I will help you," she promised. Reported: She promised that she would help me. Direct: "You should study harder," he advised. Reported: He advised that I should study harder. Direct: "I didn't take your book," he denied. Reported: He denied taking my book. Direct: "Let's go to the cinema," she suggested.

  17. Convert from Direct to Indirect

    2. Direct: Rama said to Arjun, "Go away". Indirect: Rama ordered Arjun to go away. 3. Direct: He said , " I am unwell". Indirect: He said that he was unwell. 4. Direct: He said, "My master is writing letters ". Indirect: He said that his master was writing letters.

  18. Reported Speech: Direct and Indirect speech

    Whenever you report a speech there's a reporting verb used like "say" or "tell". For example: Direct speech: I love to play football. Reported speech: She said that she loves to play football. (Note 1 : Assume a gender if not mentioned already. Note 2: Using "that" is optional.

  19. Reported Speech

    Reported Speech. If we want to say what somebody has said, we basically have two options: We can use the person's exact words - in quotation marks "..." if we are writing ( direct speech ). We can change the person's words into our own words ( reported speech ). He said: "I love you." He said that he loved me.

  20. Converting Direct Speech into Reported Speech

    Direct speech consists of the exact words spoken by someone. "I am glad to be here this evening.". Indirect or Reported Speech consists of a report made of what was said by another. The speaker said that she was glad to be there that evening. Direct speech requires opening and closing quotation marks. Indirect speech is written without ...

  21. direct to indirect speech conv

    Direct to indirect speech converter app improves the knowledge of the students. A student and a teacher can easily track their question papers for Any test exams. This is the best design Narration English Grammar app. It contains a lot of examples of rules. There are 15 rules for direct indirect speech which are clearly given with examples.