Short Notes: Reported Speech

We can express thing spoken or told by others in 2 ways:

  • To speak what the speaker said as it is – Direct Speech
  • To express what the speaker said in our own words -Indirect SpeechIf you ask your friend – “Where is your book”, the reply could be –“Your book is with Sam”.

    Now, if I ask you, what did your friend tell you, then you can narrate that in 2 ways.

    • He said to me, “your book is with Sam”. -Direct Narration
    • My friend told me that your book was with Sam. -Indirect Narration


  •  Remove the inverted commas. (“………..”)
  •  Remove the full stop or comma after the reporting verb.
  •  If there is any object after the reporting verb then change’ said to’ to ‘told’ &’say ‘to ‘tell’.
  •  If there is no object after the reporting verb then no change in ‘said’ and ‘say’.
  •  Add necessary conjunction like ‘that, if, whether’ after the reporting verb.

(a) Changes in the Tense of Reported Speech (R.S.) :

1. if the reporting verb (R.V.) is in Present or Future Tense, there is no changed in the tense of R.S.

(i) She says, “He is not here”.                            (Direct)

She says that he is not here                             (Indirect)      

(ii) She will say, ”Tom drives a car”.                 (Direct)

She will say that Tom drives a car.                  (Indirect)

2.  If R.V is in Past tense, then of R.S is changed as follows:

(i) Simple present is changed into Simple Past.

John said to Jim, “Sam studies regularly”.                                      (Direct)

John told Jim that Sam studied regularly.                                      (Indirect)

(ii) Present Continuous is changed to Past Continuous.

Chappell said to Sachin, “Dravid is playing football”.                   (Direct)

Chappell told Sachin that Dravid was playing football.             (Indirect)

(iii)  Present perfect is changed to past perfect.

Dhoni said, ”Pathan has gone to West Indies”.                       (Direct)

Dhoni said that Pathan had gone to West Indies”.                (Indirect)

(iv)  Present perfect Continuous is changed to past perfect Continuous.

My neighbour said, “The dogs have been braking for 2 hours”.                     (Direct)

My neighbour said that dogs had been braking for 2 hours”.                        (Indirect)

(v)  Simple past is changed to past perfect.

John said,” Jim went to U.S.A.”                                                              (Direct)

John said that Jim had gone to U.S.A.                                             (Indirect)

(vi)  Past continuous is changed to past perfect continuous.

She said, “Her sister was sleeping”.                                                 (Direct)

She said that her sister had been sleeping.                                (Indirect)

(vii) No changes in past perfect and past perfect continuous.

Papa said,” Johnny had eaten sugar”.                                              (Direct)

Papa said that Johnny had eaten sugar.                                         (Indirect)

(viii) Change in modals: Can changes to could; May changes to should; will to would;

The principal said,” Student can go home”.                                    (Direct)

The principal said that Student could go home.                          (Indirect)

(ix)  Would, Should, Could, Might, Ought – do not change.

(x)  Must can be changed to ‘had to’ or used as it is.

We said, “The criminals must be punished”.                                   (Direct)

We said that the criminals had to /must be punished”.              (Indirect)



(b) Exceptions:

(i) Historical Facts :                Sir said,”Kalidas is the Shakespeare of India”.                          (Direct)

Sir said that Kalidas is the Shakespeare of India.                    (Indirect)

(ii) UniversalTruth:                 The teacher said,” Sun rises in the East”                                      (Direct)

The teacher said that the Sun rises in the East”.                     (Indirect)

(iii) Habitual Facts :                The Doctor said.” Smoking is injurious to health”.                  (Direct)

The Doctor said that Smoking is injurious to health”.            (Indirect)

(c) Changes in persons of pronoun:

(i) First person pronouns (I, me, my, mine, we, us. our, ours ,ourselves) in the R.V. when changed into indirect speech, change as per the person, Number andGender of the Subject of R.V.

They said, “We shall help our friends”.                               (Direct)

They said that the would help their friends.                (Indirect)

(ii) Second person pronoun (you, you, yours, yourself, yourselves) in the R.V. when changed into indirect speech, change as per the person, Number andGender of the Subject of the Object.

She said to us, “You are intelligent”.                            (Direct)

She said to us that we are intelligent.                        (Indirect)

(iii) No change in the Third Person Pronoun (He, She, It, They, Her, Its, Their, Theirs,Him, Herself, Themselves, Her, Hers) when changed from Direct into Indirect Speech

Greg said, “She is a good student”.                             (Direct)

Greg said that She was a good student.                  (Indirect)

(d) Change of Situations :

‘this’                               becomes                           ‘that’
‘these’                           becomes                           ‘those’
‘least week’               becomes                           ‘the previous week’
‘here’                            becomes                            ‘there’
‘now’                            becomes                              ‘then’
‘today’                        becomes                              ‘that day’
‘yesterday’               becomes                             ‘the day before/the previous day’
‘tomorrow’             becomes                               ‘the next day/ the coming day’
‘last week’              becomes                               ‘the week before/the previous week’
‘next month’          becomes                               ‘the week before/the previous week’
‘ago’                            becomes                                 ‘before’

Jacob said, “I read this book last month.”                                                          (Direct)
Jacob said that he had read that book the previous month                   (Indirect)

(e) Imperative Situations :

Write “Ordered, begged, pleaded, implored, advised, demanded, Forbade ”etc. as per the sentences.

The teacher said to me, “sit in your class and learn your lesson”                   (Direct)

The teacher ordered me to sit in my class and learn my lesson.                      (Indirect)

(f) Interrogative Sentences :

(i) For ‘wh’ question – use the wh word

Tim asked, “Where is the book ?”                                       (Direct)

Tim asked Where the book was.                                         (Indirect)

(ii) For yes /No question – use if / whether

Surabhi asked, “Have you read this book?”                      (Direct)

Surabhi asked if whether I had read that book.               (Indirect)

Practice Exercise


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