Direct and Indirect Speech in English grammar | Narration Change Rules

Direct to Indirect Speech : Hello everyone, today we will discuss a topic that some students find a little difficult which is Narration Change. It is as important as other rules of English grammar. And this seems to be a very difficult lesson to some students. So that in this article we'll learn the Direct and Indirect Speech of Narration Change in a very simple and easy way. 

Narration Change Direct and Indirect Speech

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Direct and Indirect Speech Definition 

Direct Speech or Direct Narration 

When we quote or repeat someone's words or speech then it is called Direct narration and the verb by which it is expressed is called Reporting verb. For example; Ram said, "I am reading a book". Direct Speech contains quote mark ("") and it starts with the capital letter and led by a comma. And comma is used after Reporting verb.  

Indirect Speech or Indirect Narration 

When we use our own words to express or report someone's statement or what someone wants to say then it is called Indirect Speech. In Indirect Narration, the meaning of the someone's statement does not change. For example; Ram said that he was reading a book. Indirect Speech contains neither quote mark or nor any comma. 

Types of Direct Speech 

There are three types or parts of Direct speech, (i) The Speaker, (ii) Reporting Verb, (iii) Reported Speech. Let's see an example to understand this. Example, She said, "Are you ill?". Here 'She' is The Speaker, 'Said' is a Reporting Verb and 'Are you ill?' is a Reported Speech. 

Important links regarding English grammar

Direct to Indirect Speech Rules 

Rule No. 1 : 

We we earlier say that in Indirect Speech contains neither quote mark or nor any comma and they are replaced by 'That' or a linker or connector. 

Rule No. 2 :  

The Speaker and the reported verb of  a sentence remain same. 

Example :

  • Direct Speech : We say, "We are good"
  • Indirect Speech : We say that we are good.

Rule No. 3 : 

In direct speech, if the reporting verb of a sentence is in present or future tense, then the reported verb and the verb of the reporting speech in indirect speech remain  unchanged. 

Example :

  • Direct Speech : She says, "I am not happy".
  • Indirect Speech : She says that she is not happy.

Rule No. 4 :  

In direct speech, if the reporting verb of a sentence is in past tense, then the verb of the repotting speech in indirect speech is changed into the following way;

Direct Speech Indirect Speech
Present Indefinite Past Indefinite
Present Continuous Past Continuous
Present Perfect Past Perfect
Present Perfect Continuous Past Perfect Continuous
Past Indefinite Past Perfect
Past Continuous Past Perfect Continuous
Past Perfect Past Perfect
Future (shall/will) Future (should/would)

Rule No. 5 : 

The first person (I, We, Our, Us) and the second Person (You, Your)  in the direct speech are changed in indirect speech accordingly. And the third person (He, She, They, His, Their, Her) in direct speech is remain same. And if there is uncertainty as to what the pronoun implies in indirect speech, then the person's name should be given in bracket.

Example :

  • Direct Speech : You said, "He is busy".
  • Indirect Speech : You said that he was busy. 
  • Direct Speech : She said to Ram, "You are very gentle".
  • Indirect Speech : She told Ram that he (Ram) was very gentle.

Rule No. 6 : 

Time and Place are also changed in indirect speech into the following way;

Example :

  • Direct Speech : The boy said, "I shall go the Kolkata tomorrow" 
  • Indirect Speech : The boy said that he would go to Kolkata the next day.

Direct Speech Indirect Speech
Now Then
Here There
This That
Theses Those
Come Go
Today That Day
Tomorrow The Next Day
Ago Before
Last Night The Previous night
Yesterday The Previous Day

Narration Change of Interrogative Sentence 

Rules No. 1 : 

If the Direct Speech is in interrogative sentence, then repotting verb of direct speech such as Say, Tell, etc are changed into Ask, Want to Know, Enquire, etc in Indirect Speech and after that the verb takes an object in Indirect Speech.

Rule No. 2 :

If the Direct Speech starts with any Wh questions or words such as What, Why, Who, Whom, etc. Then these words remains unchanged in the Indirect Speech. But if the sentence in the Direct Speech does not start with any Wh words, then If and Whether is used as the connector or linker.

Rule No. 3 :

In indirect speech, the interrogative sentence becomes assertive sentence and its sign (?) is changed into full stop (.) sign.

Examples of Yes-No Questions 

  • Direct Speech : She said to me, "Are you happy?"
  • Indirect Speech : She asked me if I was happy. 
  • Direct Speech : "It is good or bad?" asked Robin
  • Indirect Speech : Robin asked whether it was good or bad.

Example of Wh Questions 

  • Direct Speech : Teacher said to me, "What are you doing?"
  • Indirect Speech : Teacher asked me what I was doing.

Narration Change of Imperative Sentence 

Rules No. 1 :

The Reporting Verb of Direct Speech becomes request, tell, ask, order, advice, etc in the Indirect Speech. such as "said to me" becomes "ordered me", etc.

Rule No. 2 :

The Imperative Mode of sentence in direct speech is changed into the Infinitive Mode of sentence in the indirect speech and the word, "To" is used before the main verb. 

Rule No. 3 :

If you want to make negative imperative in indirect speech, you have to use "Not" before infinitive, or you can use Reporting verb "forbid", "prohibit", etc at place of "Not".

Rule No. 4 :

Expressions such as "Sir", "Please", etc in the direct speech are changed by the verb, "Request" or by the adverbs such as Kindly, Politely, etc in the indirect speech. 

Example of Imperative Sentence 

  • Direct Speech : She said to me, "Don's come here".
  • Indirect Speech : She ordered me not to go there
  • Direct Speech : Bimal said to me, "Please wait here till I return".
  • Indirect Speech : Bimal requested me to wait there till he return.


Imperative Sentence starts with "Let"

Rule : When a sentence in direct speech starts with Let and it expresses proposal or suggestion, then we use Propose or Suggest, Request or Wish of the reporting verb in indirect speech and "Let" is replaced by "Should", "Might", "Might be allowed to", etc and it is used before the Moreover, the imperative form is changed to the assertive form and "That" is used as a linker. 

Example :

  • Direct Speech : Rahul said, "Let us go home."
  • Indirect Speech : Rahul proposed that they should go home.

Imperative Sentence starts with "Must, Would and Could"

Rule : The modal, "Must" remain unchanged in the indirect speech. There are many sentences that starts with "Would" and "Could" and they are placed as interrogative form but imperative in nature. That is why "To" infinitive is used in these cases.

Example :

  • Direct Speech : He said to me, "Could you give me a pen?"
  • Indirect Speech : He requested me to give him a pen. 

Narration Change of Desire Sentences

Rule : 

Desire sentences are also called Optative sentences and it expresses Wish or Prayer. And in indirect speech, wish, pray, long for, desire, yearn for, etc are used. 

Example :

  • Direct Speech : He said to me, "May God bless you."
  • Indirect Speech : He prayed that God might bless me.

Narration Change of Exclamatory Sentences 

Rule No. 1 :

In exclamatory sentences, the reporting verb of direct speech is changed into grief, exclaim in joy, exclaim in (with), exclaim in wonder, etc according to the sense of Hurrah, Alas, etc. But where there is no certainty about the nature of exclamation, then it is advised to use Cry Out or Exclaim as the reporting verb in the indirect speech. Other forms of reporting verb in the indirect speech are shout, swear, applaud, etc.

Rule No. 2 :

The exclamatory sentences are turned into a statement in the indirect speech and "That" is used as a connector or linker.

Rule No. 3 :

If the exclamatory sentence starts with "How" or "What" to describe extreme emotion, then in indirect speech, it is changed into  "Very" or "Great" according to the sense. Normally "Great" is used before a noun and "Very" is used before an adjective.

Example :

  • Direct Speech : The girls said, "Hurrah! We have won the game."
  • Indirect Speech : The girls exclaimed in (with) joy that they had won the game.
  • Direct Speech : She said, "What a good news!"
  • Indirect Speech : She exclaimed that it was a very good news.


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Hello everyone, I’m Mritunjoy Biswas and I did masters degree in English literature. Now I’m a private tutor and I have been teaching for last 5 years.

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