There are two ways of relating what a person has said either directly or indirectly. When we quote the exact word used by the speaker, it is called direct speech. But, when we give the exact meaning of a speech without necessarily using the speakers' words, it is called indirect speech.

The rules for changing Direct speech into Indirect Speech

Rule I: Person change
· First person is changed according to subject
· Second person is changed according to object
· Third, the person cannot be changed.

Remember: SON
We follow SON structure to change the person
S    O    N
1    2     3

This structure shows that the first-person changes according to the subject of the verb, the second person changes according to the object of reporting verb and the third person remains unchanged.

⮚ We have to change the pronouns to keep the same meaning of a sentence.
D: "We are the best students," he said.
I: He said that they were the best students.

D: "They called us," he said.
I: He said that they had called them.

⮚ Sometimes we have to use a noun instead of a pronoun; otherwise, the new sentence is confusing.
D: "He killed them," Kevin said.
I: Kevin said that the man had killed them.
If we only make mechanical changes (Kevin said he had killed them), the new sentence can have a different meaning - Kevin himself killed them.

2. Tense change
Direct Indirect
simple present (V1/V5) simple past (V2)
present continuous past continuous
present perfect past perfect
present perfect continuous past perfect continuous
simple past past perfect
past continuous past perfect continuous
will/shall + V1 would/should + V1
can/may + V1 could/might + V1
must had to
would/should/could\might no change
had better/ought/used no change
past perfect no change

⮚ If the reported speech expresses a universal truth, general truth and habitual action, it's tense remains unchanged:
D: She said, "Young children are very restless."
I: She said that young children are very restless.

⮚ Quotations and proverbs remain unchanged:
D: Keats said, "A thing of beauty is a joy forever".
I: Keats said that a thing of beauty is joy for ever.

⮚ If the reported speech describes a state of affairs that still exist when the speech is reported, its tenses remain unchanged:
D: She said, "Nisha does not get along well with her husband."
I: She said that Nisha does not get along with her husband.

⮚ If the reported speech has a time clause. Its tense remains unchanged. The main verb of such a sentence can either remain unchanged or become past perfect.
D: He said, "Aayush slipped when he was trying to board a bus."
I: He said that Aayush had slipped (or slipped) when he was trying to board a bus."

⮚ If the reporting verb is in the present or future, the tense of reported speech cannot be changed.
D: Dr Aashish says, "Man does not consider man as man."
I: Dr Aashish says that man does not consider man as man.

3. Adverbs & adverbial phrases of the time change
Direct Indirect
now/just then
today that day
yesterday the day before
tomorrow the next day
here there
hence thence
this that
thus so

⮚ This and these are usually substituted.
D: "They will finish it this year," he said.
I: He said they would finish it that year.

D: "I brought you this book," she said.
I: She said she had brought me the book.

D: "We want these flowers," they said.
I: They said they wanted the flowers.

Change of different sentences
Reported speech (Sentence types) Reporting verbs (Said/said to) Linking words
Statement (S+V+O) said / told that
Question (Wh + aux + . . . Aux + S + ...) asked / wanted to know enquired / questioned If / whether / Wh-word
Command (v + Obj.) requested / suggested / advised / forbade / ordered / told to / not to
Exclamation asked / exclaimed with that / wh-word
Optative cursed/blessed/wished/ prayed that

1. Assertive Sentence
⮚ An assertive sentence makes a statement or states something. It follows the following rules:
a. The reporting verb said is usually changed into told if it is followed by an object; if there is no object, it is left unchanged.
b. If the reported speech belongs to an assertive sentence, the conjunction that is inserted before the reported speech.
D: The teacher said, "I am pleased with him".
I: The teacher told that he was pleased with me.
c. If the reporting verb is in the present tense or future tense, the tense of the verb in the reported speech remains unchanged.

2. Yes/No Questions
It asks questions. The following rule should be applied:
a. The reporting verb is changed into ask or enquire. Words like demand, wonder, want to know can also be used. Enquire and demand are followed by the preposition of.
b. The question form is changed into the statement form. The question mark is dropped.
c. No conjunction is used if the sentence begins with wh-words. However, If or whether is used as conjunction if the sentence begins with an auxiliary verb.
d. Other rules are followed as already explained.
D: "Will you come?" she asked me.
I: She asked me if/whether I would come.

3. Commands, requests and advice
The commands, requests and advice mostly have the same form in English: verb + object + infinitive (advise, ask, beg, forbid, order, persuade, recommend, tell, urge, warn etc.).
Unlike the direct speech, the person addressed must be mentioned in the indirect speech.
D: "Get up!" he said.
I: He told me to get up.

D: "Please, revise for the test," he said.
I: He urged me to revise for the test.

⮚ Negative commands, requests and advice are made by verb + object + not + infinitive.
D: "Don't hesitate," he said.
I: He persuaded me not to hesitate.

D: "Don't smoke," the doctor warned my father.
I: The doctor warned my father not to smoke.

'Tell' can introduce statements, commands, requests or advice. The form is different, however. Commands, requests or advice with tell
"Leave the room," he told John. - He told John to leave the room.

"Don't give up," the teacher told her students. - The teacher told the students not to give up.

Similarly 'ask' is used in reported questions, commands, requests or advice in different forms.

4. Optative Sentences
 An optative sentence also becomes a statement in an indirect speech. The reporting verb changes into a wish, pray, curse, bless, etc.
Rahu said, 'May gold bless you me'.
Rahul prayed that gold might bless.

5. Exclamatory Sentences
 When we change exclamatory sentences into indirect, they become statements.
He said, 'What a dreadful idea !"
He exclaimed that it was a dreadful idea.

 Exclamations beginning what (a) . . . or how can be reported by (a) exclaim / say that
He said, 'how terrible !'
He exclaimed that it was terrible.
or (b) by give an exclamation of delight/disgust / horror / relief / surprise etc. Alternatively, if the exclamation is followed by an action. We can use the construction (c) with an exclamation of delight / disgust etc. + he/she + verb.

 Other types of exclamation, such as Good! Marvellous! Splendid! Heavens! Oh! Ugh ! etc. can be reported as in (b) or (c) above:
D: 'Good!' he exclaimed
I: He gave an exclamation of pleasure/satisfaction.

D: 'Ugh!' she exclaimed, and turned the programme off.
I: With an exclamation of disgust she turned the programme off.

 Note also:
He said, 'Thank you.' = He thanked me.
He said, 'Curse this fog!' = He cursed the fog.
He said, 'Good luck!' = He wished me luck
He said, 'Happy Christmas!' = He wished me a happy Christmas.
He said, 'Congratulations!' = He congratulated me.
He said, 'Liar!' = He called me a liar.
He said, 'Damn!' etc. = He swore.
The notice said: WELCOME TO WALES! = The notice welcomed visitors to Wales.
Note: yes and no are expressed in an indirect speech by subject + appropriate auxiliary verb:
D: He said, 'Can you swim ?' and I said 'No'
I: He asked (me) if I could swim and I said I couldn't.

D: He said, 'will you have time to do it ?' and I said 'Yes'
I: He asked if I would have time to do it and I said that I would.

Previous Post Next Post

Main Tags