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There are two ways of reporting the words spoken by an individual:

Directly – Ron said, “I will win the match.”

Indirectly– Ron said that he would win the match.

Direct speech – The actual words of the speaker is used within double inverted commas. (“   “)

Indirect Speech – When the words of a speaker are reported in our own words.

Reporting verb – In the direct speech, those words which appear outside the double inverted commas are called reporting verb. The reporting verb introduces the words of the speaker. This verb indicates who speaks to whom, how and when.

Reported speech : Those words which are used within inverted commas in the direct speech is called reported speech.

Direct speech example:

The teacher said, “The earth revolves around the sun.”

In this sentence – The teacher said    is the reporting verb.

“ The earth revolves around the sun.”   is the reported speech.

Indirect speech

The teacher said that the earth revolves around the sun.

[ R.V. = Reporting verb,       R.S.  = Reported speech  ]

[D.S. = Direct speech,           I.S. = Indirect speech]     

For changing Direct speech into Indirect speech, the following rules need to be observed.

Rule -1

 If the R.V. is in the present or the future tense, then the tense of the verb does not change. [ no need to change the tense of the R.S. ]

E.g. D.S-  He says, “He is in deep trouble.”

         I.S.- He says that he is in great trouble.

If the R.S. expresses a universal truth or some habitual facts, then the tense of the reported speech remains as it is.

E.g. D.S.- “ The teacher said, “God is immortal.”

       I.S. – The teacher said that God is immortal.”


 In case the reporting verb is in the past tense the tense of the verb will change correspondingly.

i) A simple present becomes a simple past.

e.g. D.S.- She said, “ I am busy.”

       I.S.-  She said that she was busy.

ii) A present continuous becomes Past continuous.

 D.S.- She said, “I am writing a poem.”

 I.S.- She said that she was writing a poem.

iii) A present perfect becomes a past perfect.

D.S.-They said, “We have done our duty.”

I.S. –They said that they had done their duty.

iv) The simple past is often but not always changed to past perfect.

D.S- Veronica said, “ I drank coffee after dinner.”

I.S.- Veronica said that she had drunk coffee after dinner.


If the R.S. expresses nearness in time or place then, it is changed into a word that expresses distance.

Now       –      Then

This        –     That

These    –     those

Thus     –      so/ that way

Come    –     Go

Here     –     There

Hence    –    Thence

Ago     –      before

Today  –    That day

Tomorrow  – The next day

Yesterday   –   The day before / The previous day

Last night  – The night before / The previous night

Last week/ month/ year    –     The week/ month/ year before or the  previous week/ month/ year etc.

Rule – 4 Rules regarding tenses

Said to  (in R.S.)            –              told

Said (in R.S.)                –               had said

Is saying                       –               was saying

Was saying                  –               had been saying

Can                               –               could

Will                               –                would

Shall                             –                should/would

May                              –                might    

Is                                   –                was

Am                                –                was     

Has                               –                 had

Has  been                     –                had been

Come                           –                 came

Has come                    –                 had come

Has been coming       –                 had been coming           

Is coming                     –                 was coming

Rule – 5

Rules regarding pronouns

a) Pronoun of first person change into the person and gender of the subject of R.V.

i)  D.S.- I said, “ I am happy today.”

     I.S.- I said that I was happy that day.

ii) D.S.-  You said, “I am happy today.”

     I.S.-  You said that you were happy that day.

iii) D.S. –  He said, “ I am happy today.”

     I.S.-  He said that he was happy that day.

iv) D.S. –  Robert said, “My pen is lost.”

      I.S.  – Robert said that his pen was lost.

b) Pronouns of the second person change according to the object of R.V.

D.S. – He said to me, “ You are right.”

I.S. – He said to me that I was right.

c) The pronouns of the third person do not change.

D.S. – He said, “She is an intelligent girl.”

I.S. – He said that she was an intelligent girl.

Rule 6

Rules for reporting statements or assertive sentences

i) Place suitable reporting verb.

ii)  While reporting statements ‘that’  conjunction is introduced.

iii) Change verb in reported speech.

iv) Change pointer word of nearness into that of distance.

D.S. – He said, “The bad weather last night stopped me from coming here.”

I.S. – He said that the bad weather the previous night stopped him from going there.

List of reporting verbs

said,        told,        added,          informed,         remarked/commented,        Answered/ replied    asserted,     assured,    hoped,     explained,     agreed,       admitted,     pointed out,     accepted,      advised,      insisted,       protested,      warned,       threatened,       refused     interrupted,      cursed,         offered,          congratulated        

Rule 7

Rules regarding interrogative sentences:                        

Interrogative sentences are of two types

  1. Formed by question verb. (wh-word :normal answer)
  2. Formed by auxiliary verb or helping verb. (Answers in ‘yes’ or ‘no’)
  3. If the R.S. is an interrogative sentence or a question, then the R.V. is changed to ‘asked’ or ‘enquired’.
  4. The question mark is removed and the R.S. is changed into a statement.
  5.  If the R.S.  begins with a ‘wh – word’,  then the same wh-word is used in the indirect speech.

     D.S- He said to me, “Where do you live?”

     I.S.- He asked me where I lived.

  1. If the question starts with a helping verb, then we use ‘if’ or ‘whether’ in the indirect speech.

 D.S.- Ansh said to Misha, “Is it necessary for me to meet the Principal?”

 I.S- Ansh asked Misha whether it was necessary for him to meet the Principal.

Reporting imperative sentences

If the R.S. is an imperative sentence, the R.V. is changed into a word that expresses command, a wish, a request, or an advice.

E.g. D.S.-The teacher said to Nash, “Stop making a noise.”

        I.S.- The teacher ordered Nash to stop making a noise.

        D.S.-  He said, “ Let us go for a walk.”

        I.S. – He suggested that they should go for a walk.

Rule -8

Rules regarding imperative sentences:

Reporting commands or requests

  1. While changing direct speech into indirect speech the reporting verb is changed into – advised, begged, commanded, entreated, forbade, ordered, requested or threatened.
  2. Conjunction ‘to’ is used in positive sentences.

     Conjunction ‘ not to’ is used in negative sentences.

D.S.- Teacher said to the students, “Do not make a noise.”

I.S. – Teacher told the students not to make a noise.


Teacher forbade the students to make a noise.

Reporting imperative sentences with ‘let’

  1. If ‘let us’ means suggestion

Should’ is used and the reporting verb is changed into ‘suggested’ or  ‘proposed’.

D.S.- Helen said, “Let us go for a movie.”

 I.S. – Helen proposed that they should go for a movie.

ii) If ‘let us’ expresses a call to action

Then it is usually reported by urged/ advised

D.S. – The Principal said to his staff, “Let us attend the lecture.”

I.S. – The Principal urged his staff to attend the lecture.

iii) If ‘let’ is used to mean allow or permit. Then the verb let in the reported speech is retained or changed into may/ might/ may be allowed to/ might be allowed to

D.S.- I said to him, “ Let me go home.”

I.S. – I told him to let me go home.

         I told him that I might be allowed to go home. 

Rules regarding exclamatory sentences:

If the R.S. happens to be an exclamatory sentence, then:

  1. The reporting verb is changed into words like exclaimed, exclaimed with joy/ sorrow, cried out, blessed, prayed, wished, cried.
  2. The interjections like alas, bravo, curse it, hurrah and well are omitted and their sense is expressed by means of phrases.

Ah! or Alas! – Exclaimed with grief or sorrow

Aha! Hurray! – Exclaimed with joy

Bravo! – Applauded

How! Oh! What! – Exclaimed with surprise

Pooh! – exclaimed with contempt

Shit! Sorry! – exclaimed with regret

  1. Conjunction ‘that’ is used.
  2.  The sense of sentence is made assertive.

 D.S. He said,Alas! My cat is no more.

 I.S.-  He exclaimed with sorrow that his cat was no more.

D.S.- He said to us,” Bravo! You have done well.”

I.S.-  He applauded us by saying that we had done well.

D.S. – “What a beautiful scenery it is!” he said.

I.S. – He exclaimed with joy that it was a beautiful scenery.


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