There are two ways of narrating or saying anything, first by using the actual words of the speaker and secondly by reporting what has been said. When we use the exact words of the speaker without any change anywhere, it is called direct form.

This is done by enclosing the speech within inverted commas (“…………….”).

When, however, the words of the speaker are reported without using the actual words, it is called the indirect form of narration.

The following examples will make this clear:

(a)  He said, “I shall go home.” (Direct)

He said that he would go home. (Indirect)

(b)   I said, “Ile has not done his homework.” (Direct)

I said that he had not done his homework. (Indirect)

(c)Sita said, “I am not going to school today.” (Direct)

Sita said that she was not going to school that day (Indirect)


(i) In the direct form, the actual words of the speaker have been enclosed within inverted commas and quotation begins with a capital letter.

(ii)In the indirect form, the main words are the same but the construction is a bit different. The main differences are :

(a)  that the inverted commas have been replaced by the word that in affirmative sentences.

(b)  the comma after the main verb disappears.

(c)  the pronouns and the tenses are also changed.

(d) the words indicating nearness have been changed into words signifying distance.

(iii) The direct narration has two parts :

(1) The Reporting Speech

(2) The Reported Speech

The speech which is outside the inverted commas is called the reporting speech and its verb, the reporting verb while the speech within the inverted commas is the reported speech — the speech that includes the actual words of the speaker.

(iv)Interrogative sentences end with the mark of interrogation (?) while exclamatory and optative sentences end with a mark of exclamation (!)


 Rule 1. Change in the Reporting Verb.

The reporting verb ‘said’ is changed into told, added, observed, remarked, promised etc.

1. He said to Ram, “Mohan will go:” (Direct)

He told Ram that Mohan would go. (Indirect)

2. He said, “Mohan is clever” (Direct)

He remarked that Mohan was clever. (Indirect)

3. Shruti said, “Brother, I am already late.” (Direct)

Shruti told her brother that she was already late. (Indirect)

 Remember that the reporting verb ‘said’ is changed into ‘told’ only when it is followed by an object. If there is no object, ‘said’ will not change.

 Rule II. Changes in the speech introducing the Reporting Speech:

 The inverted commas are removed and ‘that is placed instead.

He said to me, ‘You are a clever boy” (Direct)

He told me that I was a clever boy. (Indirect)

 Rule III. Changes in the tense of the verb in the Reported Speech:

(a)If the reporting verb is in the Present or Future Tense, the tense of the verb in the reported speech is not changed :

The teacher says, “He is an intelligent boy.” (Direct)

The teacher says that he is an intelligent boy. (Indirect)

Tina will says, “The servant was wrong.” (Direct)

Tina will say that the servant was wrong. (Indirect)

(b) If the reporting verb is in the Past Tense, the tense of the verb in the reported speech is changed into the corresponding past tense, i.e.,

  Direct Speech Indirect Speech
Present IndefinitePast Indefinite
Present ContinuousPast Continuous
Present PerfectPast Perfect
Present Perfect ContinuousPast Perfect Continuous
Past IndefinitePast Perfect
Pact ContinuousPast Perfect Continuous
Was wereHad been
(Auxiliary verb) willWould
ConditionalConditional Perfect

Note: Must changes as

(i)   When indicating a prohibition, permanent rule command, advice, intention, must not change.

(ii)  When indicating necessity or compulsion must is changed into—(a) had to for present or immediate necessity.

(b) would have to fix future necessity.

The exception to Rule III (b)

If the reported speech expresses some universal truth or habitual fact or some characteristics, the tense of the verb is not changed.


Our teacher said, “Man is mortal. (Direct)

Our teacher said that man is mortal. (Indirect)


He said to me, “I walk daily in the morning.” (Direct)

He told that he walks daily in the morning. (Indirect)


He said, -Gold is One of the most useful metals.” (Direct)

He said that gold is one of the most useful metals. (Indirect)

Rule IV. Change in the Personal Pronouns in the Reported Speech :

(i) Pronouns of the first Person in the reported speech of the direct form are changed in the indirect turns to the person of the subject of the reporting verb.

He said, ” I am not guilty. (Direct)

He said that he was not guilty. (Indirect)

(ii) Pronouns of the Second Person in the reported speech of direct form are changed in the indirect form to the person of the object of the reporting verb.

He said to me, “You are right.” (Direct)

He told me that I was right. (Indirect)

(iii)          Pronouns of the Third Person in the reported speech remain unchanged in indirect speech.

I said to him, “She is very clever.” (Direct)

I told him that she was very clever. (Indirect)

Rule V. The words in the Reported Speech expressing nearness are changed into words expressing distance :

Direct           Indirect

Now             then

here             there

today           that day

yesterday      the previous day

tomorrow    the next day

last night     the previous night  

this              that

these           those

ago             before

tonight       that night

thus             so

next day/week     the following day/week

Exception: if, however, the sense of the indirect speech is such that the act of reporting is happening at the same time and the same place, there is no change in the above words; as.

Ruchi said, ‘This is my house.” (Direct)

Ruchi said that this was her house. (Indirect)

Rule VI. Rules for the conversion of Interrogative Sentences

In Interrogative Sentences :

(a) The rule I: The reporting verb ‘said’ is changed into asked or enquired of; as,

He said to me. “Will you go ?” (Direct)

He asked me whether/if I would go.  (Indirect)


He enquired of me if/whether I would go.  (Indirect)

(b) Rule II:  Remove the comma and the inverted commas.

(i)   In case of questions which are introduced by the finite verb or its auxiliaries is, am, are, was, were, do, does, did, can, may. will shall, has, have, had, etc. in which the answer is in ‘yes’ or ‘no’, introduce if or whether to join the Principal clause with the subordinate one.

He said to me. “Have you done your homework ?” (Direct)

He asked me if/whether I had done my homework. (Indirect)

Mr John said, “Is Mr Gupta at home?” (Direct)

Mr John inquired if Mr Gupta was at home. (Indirect)

(ii)  In case of interrogative sentences which begin with interrogative pronouns or adverbs like, which, what, why, when, where, how, etc. the first w(: rd of the sentence is made the connectivity :

He said to me. “Why are you late today ?” (Direct)

He asked me why I was late that day (Indirect)

Remember: The mark of Interrogation (?) is never retained in the indirect form and the subject is brought before the verb as in assertive sentences.

Rule VII. Rules for the conversion of Imperative Sentences.

 In Imperative Sentences :

(a) Rule I. The reporting verb is changed into ordered, commanded, requested. advised., etc.,        

       according to sense.

He said to me, “Please. don’t keep me waiting so long.- (Direct)

He requested me not to keep him waiting so long. (Indirect)

(b)  Rule II. The reported speech is changed into the infinitive mood by infinitive mode by

       introducing ‘to’ in place of inverted commas.

He said to me, “Go out.” (Direct)

He ordered me to go out. (Indirect)

Note that

All nouns and pronouns in the vocative case in the reported speech are turned into the personal object of the reporting verb.

He said. “Ankur, sit still.” (Direct)

He told Ankur to sit still. (Indirect)

(c) In the sentences beginning with ‘let’ the reporting verb ‘said’ is changed into ‘proposed’ requested to be allowed’, etc.

He said, “Let us go out for a walk.” (Direct)

He proposed that they should go out for an (Indirect)

Remember: Rules regarding the change often personal pronouns etc. are the same as in assertive sentences.

Rule VIII. Rules for the conversion of exclamatory and optative sentences

In Exclamatory and Optative sentences:

(a) Rule I. Reporting verb ‘said’ is changed into ‘exclaimed’ in the case of exclamatory sentences and into wished or prayed in the case of optative sentences. He said, “Hurrah! We have won the match.” (Direct)

He exclaimed with delight that they had won the match. (Indirect)

He said, “Alas! It is a grievous loss.” (Direct)

                He exclaimed with sorrow that that was a grievous loss. (Indirect)

 Note: An exclamatory sentence contains words which express certain strong emotions of anger, joy, surprise, resentment, hatred, etc. Therefore, these feelings are added to the following verbs thus :

Alas! = exclaimed with sorrow.

Hurrah = exclaimed with joy.

 Oh, = exclaimed with regret.

Ah ah! = exclaimed with delight.

Pooh! Pooh! = exclaimed with contempt.

He said, “May God bless you with a son!” (Direct)

He prayed that God might bless him with a son. (Indirect)

(b) Rule II. First, change the exclamatory or optative sentences into assertive sentences and then follow Rule II in the case of assertive sentences.

He said, “What a fine bird it is!” (Direct)

 He exclaimed that it was a very fine bird. (Indirect)

Note: The sign of exclamation (!) is omitted and all interjections, such as Alas! Hurrah ! etc. are dropped.

(c) Follow the rules for the change of tenses, personal pronouns etc., as in the case of assertive sentences.

Alas ! how extravagant I have been !”  said he. (Direct)

He confessed with regret that he had been very extravagant. (Indirect)

Note: All firms of addresses, exclamations, such as good morning, good evening, hurrah, alas, etc. should be omitted but the sense of the sentence should be retained.


 A passage in the direct form sometimes consists of several types of sentences enumerated above. In such an event a new reporting verb. As suited to the reported speech, is added with every sentence. In case, two or more sentences are of the same type, there is no need for adding a new reporting verb. Take for instance the following example:

The teacher said, “Why are von late today.

Mohan? Have you no watch or dock in your house? It is thus that you want to make up your deficiency.”

 In this passage, all the sentences are interrogative ones and therefore. we will render it in indirect turn by adding the reporting ‘asked’ or ‘enquired’ of with the main verb, thus :

The teacher asked khan why he was late that day, if he had no watch or clock in his, 1 house and if it y. as this that he wanted to make up his deficiency.


 Rain said. “I write a letter.”

 Ram said that he wrote a letter.

Reena said that she was listening to music.

                Pranav said that He had not completed his homework.

 The gardener said that he had been watering the plants since morning.

 Kunal said that he had bought a pen.

She said that she would not sing a song.

Raja said that he might come the next day

Preeti said that she had to go home at once.

The teacher said that the earth revolves around the sun.

He asked whether you would come the next day.

He asked me if I would stop disturbing him and said that I would not.

He applauded him saying that he had brought victory.

Versha forbade Vaibhav to play till late evening.


Versha advised Vaibhav not to play till late evening.

Remember: If the reported speech is in negative, use forbade in place of say,

Direct and Indirect Speech Narration Exercise:- 

Direct and Indirect Speech Narration Rules and Exercises 2

Direct and Indirect Speech Narration Exercise – 1 & 2 (Solved)
Direct and Indirect Speech Narration Exercise – 3 & 4 (Solved)
Direct and Indirect Speech Narration Exercise – 5 & 6 (Solved)
Direct and Indirect Speech Narration Exercise – 7 & 8 (Solved)
Direct and Indirect Speech Narration Exercise – 9 & 10 (Solved)