Last Updated : 15 Apr 2014.

What is Reported Speech

Definition :

In order to report a dialogue, one should be well-versed in changing sentences from Direct Speech to Indirect Speech. Of course, we need not reproduce the actual words of the speaker exactly. We are more concerned with the sense of the utterance than in the literal repetition of the words. The following guidelines will help you to refresh what you have studied about the transformation of sentences from Direct to Indirect Speech.

Statements: When the utterance of the speaker is a statement we use the reporting verbs - say, tell. The conjunction used is - that. In order to preserve the original tone of the speaker ‘say’ or ‘tell’ can be replaced with:- suggest, agree, mutter, admit, insist, whisper, boast, state, remark, claim, object, protest, etc.
What are the differences between the direct speech and the indirect speech?

There are several differences between a sentence with direct speech and a sentence with indirect speech.

  • We no need to use quotation marks with indirect speech.
  • We have to change the tense of the verb.
  • We have to change the pronouns and determiners.

e.g

DialogueReported form
He said, I can speak four language.He boasted that he could speak four languages.

Some more examples.

DialogueReported form
“Let’s go out for a walk,”She suggested going out for a walk.
“That mobile is mine”,He claimed that that mobile was him.
“Yes, I took the mobile”,He admitted that he had taken the mobile.
“You can’t arrest me”,He protested that they could not arrest him.
“You shouldn’t take my laptop”He objected that I shouldn’t take his atlas.

We can replace ‘tell’ with the following verbs suited to the context: complained, stammered, sneered, snapped, explained, declared, announced, groaned, promised, gasped, conceded, etc.

 

Some Important Rules to Report the Dialogue:

e.g:

Direct SpeechIndirect Speech
The boy said to his friend, “I am waiting for you here now.”The boy told his friend that he was waiting for him there then.

Changes to be noted:

KindsDialogueReporting
Reporting Verbsaid totold
PronounsIhe
youhim
Tenseam waitingwas waiting
Place Conceptherethere
Time Conceptnowthen

CHANGES IN:

A. Pronouns:
Direct SpeechIndirect Speech (Reported Speech)
I, youhe, she, it
my, mine, your, yourshis, her, hers, its
wethey
our, ourstheir, theirs
usthem
B. Tense:
Direct Speech (speaker’s words)Indirect Speech (Reporter or Listener)
Present tensePast tense
am, is, arewas, were
make, makesmade
am / is / are eatingwas / were eating
will / can / may eat would / could / might eat
has, have had
has / have eaten had eaten
Direct Speech (speaker’s words)Indirect Speech (Reporter or Listener)
Present tensePast perfect tense
was / were had been
ate had eaten
was / were eating had been eating
C. Expressions of time and place indicating nearness are changed into one of distance:
Direct SpeechIndirect Speech (Reported Speech)
nowthen
todaythat day
tonightthat night
yesterdaythe previous day / the day before
tomorrowthe next / following day
the day before yesterday two days before
the day after tomorrow in two days
last weekthe previous week or the week before
last monththe previous month or the month before
last yearthe previous year or the year before
next week / month / year the following week / month / year
a week / month a week / month
last night the previous night
here there
this / itthat
these those
thus so
ago before

I. STATEMENTS:

Kind of SentencesReporting VerbsConjunctions
Statementsaid, told, suggested, admitted, remarkedthat
a. Ordinary statements:

Example:

Direct SpeechRosy said, “I have a habit of reding before I go to bed”.
Indirect SpeechRosy said that she had a habit of reading before she went to bed.
Direct SpeechDavid said, ‘Here is the pen I borrowed yesterday, John.”
Indirect SpeechDavid said to John that there was the pen he had borrowed the previous day.

In reported speech people often leave out the conjunction that.

Reported Speech
Sarah said that she felt ill.
Malika said that she couldn’t find her pendrive
Peter said that David was hitting him.
b. When the reporting verb is in the present or future tense there is no change in the tense of the reported clause:

Example:

Direct SpeechSarah says, “I like kids”.
Indirect SpeechSarah says that she likes kids.
c. When the reporting verb is in the past tense the verb of the reported clause is changed into the corresponding past tense:

Example:

Direct SpeechMohan said, “I have written a novel”.
Indirect SpeechMohan said that he had written a novel.
d. Present Progressive used as a future form becomes would be + present participle, not Past Progressive:

Example:

Direct SpeechShe said, “I am seeing the dentist next week”.
Indirect SpeechShe said that she would be seeing the dentist the following week.
e. Simple Past / past Progressive in adverb clauses of time do not usually change into the corresponding past tense:

Example:

Direct SpeechShe said, “When I lived / was living in a village I faced a lot of hardships”.
Indirect SpeechShe said that when shelived / was living in a village she faced a lot of hardships. (Don’t use had lived / had been living)
f. Unreal past tense (subjunctive mood) after wish / it is time remains unchange:

Example:

Direct SpeechShe said, “I wish I were an angel.”
Indirect SpeechShe said that she wished she were an angel. (Don’t use had been)
g. Would rather / would sooner / had better remains unchanged:

Example:

Direct SpeechHe said, “I would rather starve than beg.”
Indirect SpeechHe said that he would rather starve than beg.
h. Verbs used in clauses expressing improbable or impossible condition remain unchanged:

Example:

Direct SpeechHe said, “If won the election I would become a minister.”
Indirect SpeechHe said that if he won the election he would become a minister.
i. When the direct speech expresses universal truth (fundamental truths of science) saying / provers / habitual action, the tense does not change:

Example:

Direct SpeechHe said, “Habit is a second nature.”
Indirect SpeechHe said that habit is a second nature.
j. A noun / pronoun in the vocative case is made the object of a reporting verb or left out:

Likewise a comment clause (parenthesis) is left out

Example:

you see, as you know, to tell you frankly etc.
k. Words of expressions used juct to introduce a sentence are left out:

Well, very well, now, so etc.

Likewise a comment clause (parenthesis) is left out

Example:

The teacher asked the children to lision to him. (now left out)
l. A statement employing all the techniques:

Well, very well, now, so etc.

Likewise a comment clause (parenthesis) is left out

Example:

Direct SpeechMy neighbour said, “My guests arrived last evening. They are staying with us today. They will be leaving early tomorrow morning.”
Indirect SpeechMy neighbour told me that her guests had arrived the previous evening and they were staying with them that day but they would be leaving early the following morning.

Sentence with the same concept should be joined with ‘and’ but when there is a contract use ‘but’.
 

 

II. QUESTIONS:

a. The reporting verbs for questions are:
Kind of SentencesReporting VerbsConjunctions
Questions (1) W/H typeasked, enquired, wanted to knowif / whether
Questions (2) Verbalasked, enquired, wanted
b. Auxiliary questions should begin with:
if / whether

e.g:

Direct SpeechMy friend said, “Are they coming with us?”
Indirect SpeechMy friend asked me whether they were coming with us.
Direct SpeechI said, “Were they angry with you?”
Indirect SpeechI asked him whether they had been angry with him.
Direct SpeechSarah said to her mother, “Can the milkman bring milk in this heavy rain?”
Indirect SpeechSarah asked her mother if the milkman could bring milk in that heavy rain.
c. Do / Does / Did Questions:

When using;
do, does (present tense) - the main verb converts
into the past (does / do go -> went)
did (past tense) - the main verb converts
into past perfect. (did go -> had gone)

e.g:

Direct Speech“Does David study late at night?” said Sonia.
Indirect SpeechSonia asked me whether David studied late at night.
Direct SpeechJems said,“Do college students use cellphones?”
Indirect SpeechJems asked me whether college students used cellphones.
d. The question form will change into a statement form:
“Is he here?”Whether he was there
e. W/h Questions:

These questions begin with a question word (Who, What, When, Why, Where, How, How long ...). While changing such a question into reported form we do not use any conjunction. We simply invert the word order (Verb + Subject is changed into Subject + Verb). Do not use if/whether in W/h Questions.

e.g:

Verb + SubjectShe said to me, “What do you want?”
Subject + VerbShe asked me what I wanted.
Direct SpeechMy neighbour said, “when did the men catch the stray dogs”
Indirect SpeechMy neighbour asked me when the men had caught the stray dogs.
Direct SpeechMy friend said, “Which colour will you choose?”
Indirect SpeechMy fiend aksed me which colour I would choose?
Direct SpeechFather said to mother, “Why was Angelina crying when she returned from school?”
Indirect Speechfather asked mother why Angelina had been crying when she had returned from school.
f. Verbal Questions:

These are questions begining with a verb. (Are you ready? Is it true?)
Here we use the conjunction ‘if’ or ‘whether’. The word order is changed as mentioned earlier.

e.g:

Verb + SubjectShe said to me, “Is Tom at home?”
Subject + VerbSh asked me if Tom was at home.

III. COMMANDS / ORDER / IMPERATIVE SENTENCES

To report a command we can use a number of verbs

Reporting Verb:
Kind of SentencesReporting VerbsConjunctions
Commands & Requeststold, asked, requested, warned, advised, instructed, orderedto - not to

We use the conjunction to. When the command is a negative one beginning with “Don’t” we change it to ‘not to’.

e.g:

Direct SpeechThe Captain said, “Get ready to board the ship.”
Indirect SpeechThe Captain commanded his sailors to get ready to board the ship.
Direct SpeechTeacher said to Jems, “Get out”
Indirect SpeechTeacher told Jems to get out.
Direct SpeechThe Judge said to the culprit, “Tell me the truth.”
Indirect SpeechThe Judge ordered the culprit to tell the truth.
Direct SpeechHeadmaster said to the students, “Don’t copy in the examination”.
Indirect SpeechHeadmaster asked the students not to copy in the examination.
Requests:

Please - requested + whom + to + v

Direct SpeechThe teacher said, “Please improve your knowledge.”
Indirect SpeechThe teacher requested the student to improve his knowledge.
Direct SpeechRobert said to me, “Please post these letters”.
Indirect SpeechRobert requested me to post those letters.
Direct SpeechMother said, “Please keep your room neat.”
Indirect SpeechMother requested me to keep my room neat.

Exclamations

Exclamations can be reported with adverbs of manner.

Kind of SentencesReporting VerbsConjunctions
Exclamationsexclaimed with joy /
exclaimed with sorrow
that

a) Reporting Verb: exclaimed with (emotion)
b) The exclamation should be changed into a statement.
c) Use suitable emotions to the exclamation.
 

Direct SpeechRosy said to David, “How wonderfully you sang!”
Indirect SpeechRosy exclaimed with happiness that David had sung wonderfully.
Direct SpeechThe foreigner said, “What a man Obama is!.”
Indirect SpeechThe foreigner exclaimed in wonder that Obama was a great man.
Direct SpeechJohn said, “That I should see you here!”
Indirect SpeechJohn was surprised to see me there.
Alas!- exclaimed with sadness / regret / disappoinment.
Direct SpeechThe reporter said, “Alas! Many lives have been lost due to tsunami”
Indirect SpeechThe reporter exclaimed sadly that many lives had been lost due to tsunami.
May you!- blesses / wished.
Direct SpeechThe grandmother said, “May you meet with success wherever you go
Indirect SpeechThe grandmother blessed her grandson that he should meet with success wherever he goes.
Don’t / never - warned or forbade. (when using forbid do not use negatives)
Direct SpeechFather said, “Shakshi, don’t play in dirty water!”
Indirect SpeechFather forbade his daughter Sakshi to play in dirty water.
O God! - called upon God with regret / sadness / disappointment.
Direct SpeechThe beggar said, “O God! I have been cheated”.
Indirect SpeechThe beggar called upon God with regret that he had been cheated.

 

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