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Direct and Indirect Speech

Direct and Indirect Speech

Date: Nov 12 2009

Topic: Grammar

Author: Liorra - El

Lesson

Direct and Indirect speech

Direct/Quoted speech is saying exactly what someone has said. It appears within quotation marks ("...") and should be word for word.

Direct speech repeats, or quotes, the exact words spoken. When we use direct speech in writing, we put the words spoken between inverted commas ("___") and there is no change in these words. We may be reporting something that's being said NOW, or telling someone later about a previous conversation

 

Indirect/Reported speech is enclosing what the person said. It doesn't use quotation marks and doesn't have to be word for word.

Indirect speech is usually used to talk about the past. When we use indirect speech, we don’t use inverted comas. We should change the tense of the words spoken. We use reporting verbs for example say, ask, and we may use the word that to introduce the reported words.

 

Example

Ø  Hopes, Intentions, Promises

When we report an intention, hope or promise, we use an appropriate reporting verb followed by a that-clause or a to-infinitive:

Direct SpeechIndirect Speech

He said, "I'll pay you the money tomorrow."

He promised to pay me the money the next day.

He promised that he would pay me the money the next day.

Other verbs used in this pattern include: hope, propose, threaten, guarantee, and swear.

 Ø  Orders

When we want to report an order, we can use a verb like tell with to-clause:

Direct SpeechIndirect Speech

The doctor said to me, "Stop smoking!"

The doctor told me to stop smoking.

"Get out of the car!" said the policeman.

The policeman ordered him to get out of the car.

Other verbs used are: command, order, warn, ask, invite, advise, beg, teach, and forbid. <<See also section on Verbs followed by infinitive and Verbs followed by gerund>>

 Ø  Requests

When we want to report a request, we can use a verb like ask with for-clause:

Direct SpeechIndirect Speech

The child asked, "Can I have a car?"

The child asked for a car.

 Ø  Suggestions

Suggestions are usually reported with a that-clause. That and should are optional in these clauses.

Direct SpeechIndirect Speech

“I think you should go to the dentist", said my mother

My mother suggested that I should go to the dentist.

Other verbs used are: insist, recommend, demand, request, and propose. Note: Suggest can also be followed by a gerund: I suggested postponing the visit to the dentist.

 Ø  Questions

-          Question words are reported by using ask (or another verb like ask) + question word + clause. <<see also section on Tense Change>>

Direct SpeechIndirect Speech

She asked me, “Where do u live?”

She asked me where I lived.

He asked me, "What is your name?"

He asked me what my name was.

-          Yes/No questions: This type of question is reported by using ask + if / whether + clause:

Direct SpeechIndirect Speech

He asked me, "Are you Eastern or Western?"

He asked me whether I was Eastern or Western.

 

Rules

There are rules in converting direct to indirect speech. The tense usually has change because when we use reported speech, we are usually talking about a time in the past (obviously the person who spoke originally spoke in the past).

Ø  Tense Change

As a rule when we report something someone has said you go back a tense (the tense on the left changes to the tense on the right)

Direct SpeechIndirect Speech

Present Simple He said, “It is hot.”

Past Simple He said it was hot.

Present Continuous She said, “I’m eating an apple.”

Past Continuous She said she was eating an apple.

Present Perfect Simple She said, "I've taught English since 1999."

Past Perfect Simple She said she had taught English since 1999.
Present Perfect Continuous He said, "I've been teaching English for two years."

Past Perfect Continuous She said she had been teaching English for two years.

Past Simple She said, "I taught English."

Past Perfect She said she had taught English.

Past Continuous She said, "I was teaching earlier."

Past Perfect Continuous She said she had been teaching earlier

Past Perfect She said, "The lesson had already started when he arrived."

Past Perfect (No Change) She said the lesson had already started when he arrived.

Past Perfect Continuous She said, "I had already been teaching for ten minutes."

Past Perfect Continuous (No Change) - She said she'd already been teaching for ten minutes.

Note:

-          We can use the Present Tense in indirect speech if we want to say that something is still true.

Direct SpeechIndirect Speech

Present Simple He said, “My name is James.”

Past Simple He said his name was James.

or

Present Simple He said his name is James.

 Ø  Modal Change

Modal verb forms also sometimes change

Direct SpeechIndirect Speech

Will She said, “I will teach English.”

Would She said she would teach English.

Can She said, "I can teach English online."

Could She said she could teach English.

Must She said, "I must teach English."

Had to She said she had to teach English.

Shall She said, "What shall we learn today?"

Should She asked what we should learn today.

May She said, "May I open the window?"

Might She asked if she might open the window.

If it use modal, such as: could, would, should, might and ought to in direct speech, then we don’t need to change it.

 Ø  Time Change

If direct speech sentence contains an expression of time, we must change it to fit in with the time.

Time in Direct SpeechTime in Indirect Speech

this (morning/noon/evening)

that (morning/noon/evening)

today

yesterday

these (days)

those (days)

now

then

(a week/ a month/ a year) ago

(a week/ a month/ a year) before

last weekend

the weekend before last/ the previous weekend

here

there

next (week/month/year)

the following (week/month/year)

tomorrow

the next/following day

 

Verbs

Some reporting verbs may appear in more than one of the following groups.

Ø  Verbs followed by if or whether + clause:

ask

remember

see

know

say

 Ø  Verbs followed by a that + clause:
addadmitagreeannounceanswerargueboastclaimcomment

complain

confirmconsider

deny

doubtestimateexplainfearfeelinsist

mention

observepersuadeproposeremarkremember

repeat

replyreportrevealsay
statesuggestsupposetellthinkunderstandwarn
 Ø  Verbs followed by either a that + clause or a to + infinitive:

decide

expect

guarantee

hope

promise

swear
threaten
 Ø  Verbs followed by either a that + clause containing should (but note that it may be omitted, leaving a subject + zero-infinitive):

advise

beg

demand

insist

prefer

propose

recommend

request

suggest
 Ø  Verbs followed by a clause starting with a question word:
decidedescribediscoverdiscussexplain

forget

guess

imagineknowlearnrealize

remember

reveal

say

seesuggest teachtell
thinkunderstandwonder
 Ø  Verbs followed by object + to + infinitive
adviseask

beg

command

forbid

instruct

invite

teach

tell
warn
 

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