When we converse, we usually use our own words directly, employing the so-called direct speech. When we want to report what someone else says or thinks, we use the Indirect Speech (or Reported Speech).

What is Indirect Speech?

Indirect speech is anything a speaker said without quoting his words. When reporting, the tense changes typically, it doesn’t use quotation marks to encompass what the speaker said, and it doesn’t have to be a word for words. This is for the purpose that, when we apply reported speech, we are habitually talking of a time which is in the past. We employ reporting verbs like ‘ask’ ‘say’ or  ‘tell’ and we may use the word ‘that’ to introduce the reported words.

When reporting speech the tense changes typically. This is because when we use reported speech, we are normally talking about a past time (because certainly, the person who delivered originally message in the past). The verbs hence usually have to be in the past too.

Indirect speech (seldom called reported speech), doesn’t accept quotation marks to enclose what somebody said and it doesn’t have to be a word for word. Indirect speech loses its syntactic independence, and is therefore constructed as a subordinate, complementing the main verb meaning “to say” or “to think”.

When changing direct speech into indirect speech, changes have to be made to a sentence. For example:

  • Verb tenses usually shift back a tense (into the past)
  • Word order often needs to change
  • Pronouns often need to change
  • Words indicating place and time need to change
  • ‘Say’ and ‘Tell’
  • ‘say’ is used when there is no indirect object: She said that she was excited.
  • ‘tell’ is used when you say who was being spoken to (i.e. with an indirect object): She told me that she was excited.
  • ‘Talk’ and ‘Speak’ Use these verbs to describe the action of communicating:
  • She talked to us.
  • He was speaking on the mobile.

Examples of Indirect Speech:

  • James says that he drinks a cup of tea every day.
  • Marks said that he had bought a car the day before.
  • She asked them whether they would greet such a man.
  • She asked them to stop there until she answered.
  • Trump said that he had been playing tennis all day.
  • She said that she would go to the UK the next week.
  • The principal advised the girls not to eat in the laboratory.
  • Tom asked Jerry to bring him a cup of coffee.
  • The old woman requested them to give him water to drink and said that she was very thirsty.
  • He asked his friend if he would not assist him to carry that box.
  • He yelled joyfully that, that was a very nice sandal.
  • He exclaimed regretfully that he had broken his cup.
  • She explained that she never ate pizza.
  • She said that she didn’t know the way and asked him if he did.
  • He said that he was off to the movies and wanted to know where I was going.
  • The chief ordered the slave to go away.

Brought to you by the KidsEnglishCollege™ Editorial Team.

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