Course Content
Private: BA Arabic
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Unit 5
Reported Speech

Learning Outcomes

At the conclusion of this unit, the learners will be able to:

  • differentiate between Direct Speech and Indirect Speech
  • convert sentences in Direct Speech into Indirect Speech
  • understand the correct usage of Reported Speech in writing and speech
  • familiarise themselves with the use of different Reporting Verbs in a sentence


Have you ever narrated a film story to your friend? If yes, think about the way you have narrated that particular story. Did you use the exact dialogues of the characters of that film? Most probably, No! It is quite difficult for us to remember the exact words used by all the characters in that film. So, it is obvious that when we narrate the story, we may modify the dialogues without compromising their implied meanings. Do you think that we employ this same style of narration in our daily conversation too? Let us see what are the different kinds of speech.

Key words

Direct speech, Indirect Speech, Reporting verbs


3.5.1 What is Reported Speech?

Look at the following sentences:
Jeena said, “I am learning Hindi now”.

Jeena said that she was learning Hindi then.
In writing or speech, there are two ways of reporting the words of a speaker.

They are Direct Speech and Indirect Speech. In Direct speech, the speaker’s words are exactly repeated as he/she has said and are enclosed within quotation marks. In Direct Speech, there are two parts; the reporting part and the speech part. The verb that precedes the speech part is known as a reporting verb. The most commonly used reporting verbs are said and told.

In Indirect speech, the words of the speaker are reported without using his/her exact words. Thus, it is also known as Reported Speech. It is to be noted that in Indirect Speech, the words of the speaker are not enclosed within quotation marks. Changing Direct Speech to Indirect Speech

When a Direct Speech is converted into an Indirect Speech, there occurs a

a) Change in the reporting verb.
b) Change in the verb form based on the tense of the reporting verb.
c) Change in people, time and place expressions.

Change in the Verb Form

The following different tables show the change in verb form while employing them in various types of sentences.

Note 1: The verbs would, should, could, might and ought to in the Direct Speech do not change in the Reported Speech.
Eg: Geetha said, “I should start a new business” (Direct Speech)
Geetha said that she should start a new business. (Indirect Speech)
Note 2: Must to had to (present necessity)
Eg: Geetha said, “You must do it now” (Direct Speech)
Geetha said that I had to do it then. (Indirect Speech)
Must to would have to (future necessity)
Eg: Geetha said, “You must finish the work next week” (Direct Speech)
Geetha said that I would have to finish the work the following week. (Indirect Speech)

Must remains unchanged

Eg: Geetha said to me,“You must obey the traffic rules.” (Direct Speech)
Geetha told me that I must obey the traffic rules. (Indirect Speech) Reporting of Assertive Sentences

  • If the reporting verb is in the Present or Future tense, the tense of the speech part remains unchanged.
    Eg: Ben says,“I am doing well”. (Direct Speech)
    Ben says that he is doing well. (Indirect Speech)
  • If the reporting verb is in the Past tense, verb forms have to be changed as shown in table 3.5.2
  • The reporting verb and the reported speech are joined by using the connective that. 

    Eg: Ben said,“I have bought a new book for my friend”. (Direct Speech)
    Ben said that he had bought a new book for his friend. (Indirect Speech)
    Ben said,“I shall practice yoga”. (Direct Speech)
    Ben said that he would practice yoga. (Indirect Speech

  • When reporting universal truths or proverbs, the verbs are not changed.
    Eg: Wordsworth said,“The Child is the father of man”. (Direct Speech)
    Wordsworth said that the Child is the father of man. (Indirect Speech)
    “Actions speak louder than words”, said he. (Direct Speech)
    He said that actions speak louder than words. (Indirect Speech)
  • If the reporting verb in the Direct Speech is said to, it should be changed to told in the Indirect Speech.Eg: Ben said to me,“I saw your mother yesterday”. (Direct Speech)
    Ben told me that he had seen my mother the previous day. (Indirect Speech)
    Ben said to Meena,“I have already watched this movie” (Direct Speech)
    Ben told Meena that he had already watched that movie. (Indirect Speech)

    Note: Besides said and told, the following reporting verbs can also be used according to the context.

Affirmed, argued, complained, declined, remarked, answered, assured, etc.
Eg: Ben said to Ram,“I will help you surely.”
Ben assured Ram that he would help him surely. Reporting of Imperative Sentences

  • While reporting Imperative Sentences, the following reporting verbs should be used

asked, ordered, commanded, requested, apologised, suggested, proposed, advised, warned, implored, begged, invited, encouraged, reminded, urged, etc.

Eg: Ann said to her friend,“Please, let me complete this work”. (Direct Speech)
Ann requested her friend to let her complete that work. (Indirect Speech)

“Don’t go outside”, said Ann to the child. (Direct Speech)
Ann asked the child not to go outside. (Indirect Speech)

Note: Forbade or not infinitive is also used for negative imperatives. Infinitive refers to: to + base form of the verb

  • While reporting commands, requests, suggestions etc. the following word order must be observed:

Subject + verb + object + infinitive

Eg: Ann said to her son, “Don’t play with this knife”. (Direct Speech)
Ann advised her son not to play with that knife. (Indirect Speech)
Ann said to me, “Work hard to score high marks”. (Direct Speech)
Ann advised me to work hard to score high marks. (Indirect Speech)

  • If the reporting verbs are suggested, denied, insisted, apologised, etc., reporting verb + (verb) ing form can also be used.Eg: Ann said, “Sorry, I came very late yesterday”. (Direct Speech)
    Ann apologized for coming very late the previous day. (Indirect Speech)

“Let us go for a walk”, Ann said. (Direct Speech)
Ann suggested going for a walk. (Indirect Speech) Reporting of Exclamatory Sentences

  • For reporting of Exclamatory Sentences, the following reporting verbs can be used:
    exclaimed with joy/sorrow, exclaimed bitterly, shouted in
    delight, cried out in joy, wished, prayed, etc. 
  • While reporting Exclamatory Sentences, all the exclamatory marks and word must be removed.

“What a brilliant film!”, said Das. (Direct Speech)
Das exclaimed that it was a brilliant film. (Indirect Speech)
“Alas!, The kitten is dead”, said Das. (Direct Speech)
Das exclaimed with sorrow that the kitten was dead. (Indirect Speech)
“I wish you got selection”, said Das (Direct Speech)
Das wished that I had got selection. (Indirect Speech)
Das said, “May you live long”. (Direct Speech)
Das prayed that I might live long. (Indirect Speech)
Das said, “What a wonderful place!”. (Direct Speech)
Das exclaimed that it was a wonderful place. (Indirect Speech) Reporting of Interrogative Sentences

  • While questions are changed into Indirect Speech, the following reporting verbs should be used;
    Asked, demanded, enquired, wanted to know, etc.
  • While reporting Interrogative Sentences, Subject + verb word order, should be followed
  • When reporting a question that begins with an auxiliary verb, the connective if or whether should be used with the reporting verb.
  • If the question begins with question words like who, whom, whose, what, which, why, when, where and how, no connective should be used with reporting verb.
  • Question mark (?) should not be used in Indirect Speech.

Roy said to Priya:“Where are you studying?” (Direct Speech)
Roy asked Priya where she was studying. (Indirect Speech)

Roy said to Priya:“Why didn’t you bring my chessboard?” (Direct Speech)
Roy asked Priya why she hadn’t brought his chessboard. (Indirect Speech)

Roy said to Priya:“When will you go to Mumbai?” (Direct Speech)
Roy asked Priya when she would go to Mumbai. (Indirect Speech)

Roy asked the students:“Did you study for the examination?” (Direct Speech)
Roy enquired whether the students had studied for the examination. (Indirect Speech)

Roy said to Priya:“Did you know our English teacher?” (Direct Speech)
Roy asked Priya if she had known their English teacher. (Indirect Speech)

Roy said to me:“Do you play cricket?” (Direct Speech)
Roy asked me whether I played cricket. (Indirect Speech

Note: Yes or No questions:

Eg: Sudhi said,“Did you watch that movie?” Renjith said,
“Yes” (Direct Speech)
Sudhi asked Renjith whether he had watched that movie and Renjith said that he did.

Mixed types:

Eg: Sudhi said,” I am reading a novel”. “What are you doing now?”(Direct Speech) 
Sudhi said that he was reading a novel and asked me what I was doing then. (Indirect Speech)


  • Different ways of reporting the speaker’s words
  • Direct Speech
  • Reporting part
  • Speech part
  • Reporting Verb
  • Indirect Speech
  • Changing Direct Speech into Indirect Speech
  • Change of verb forms
  • Change of Modals
  • Reporting of Sentences
  • Reporting verbs
  • Word order
  • Use of connectives
  • Mixed type questions

Objective Questions

  1. Which are the two ways of reporting the words of a speaker?
  2. Which are the two parts of Direct Speech?
  3. Identify the correct statement related to Direct Speech.
    a) In Direct Speech, the words of the speaker are exactly repeated.
    b) Quotation marks are not used in Direct Speech.
    c) Direct Speech is also known as Reported Speech.
  4. Which of the following is changed, when Direct Speech is converted to Indi-rect Speech?
    a) Change in verb form according to the tense of the reporting verb.
    b) Change in the reporting verb.
    c) Change in time and place expressions.
    d) All the above.
  5. Change the following modals into Indirect Speech
  6. Change the following time and place expressions to the Indirect Speech
  7. Which of the following reporting verbs are used for reporting an Imperative Sentence?
    Exclaimed with joy, advised, shouted in delight, requested, enquired
  8. Which of the following reporting verbs are used for reporting a question?Asked, ordered, commanded, enquired, apologized, advised
  9. Which of the following reporting verbs are used for reporting an Exclamatory Sentence?
                                         Ordered, exclaimed with sorrow, advised, prayed, wished, enquired
  10. Which is the connective used for reporting the questions beginning with auxiliary verbs?
  11. Change the following sentences into Indirect Speech
    a) He says, “I am good”.
    b) The King said to the soldier, “Bring the thief here”.
  12. Change the following questions into Indirect Speech.
    a) “What is your email id?”, she asked.
    b) She asked, “Why are you so happy today?”


  1. Direct Speech and Indirect Speech.
  2. Reporting part and Speech part
  3. In Direct Speech the words of the speaker are exactly repeated.
  4. All the above.
  5. Can- could
    Will- would
    Should- should
  6. Ago- before
    This – that
    Tonight- that night
  7. Advised, requested
  8. Asked, enquired
  9. Exclaimed with sorrow, wished, prayed
  10. If or whether
  11.  a) He says that he is good.
    b) The King ordered the soldier to bring the thief there.
  12.  a) She asked what my email id was.
    b) She asked why I was so happy that day.


  1. Change the following sentences into Indirect Speech.
    a) The boy said, “I am playing games now”.
    b) “Get out of my house”, Amala said.
    c) “May you achieve all success in your life”, she said.
    d) “What are your plans for the college day celebrations?” the principal asked the chairman.
    e) The group leader asked, “Have you completed your assignments?”
    f) Rahim asked, “Do you wish to participate in the dance competition?”
  2. Imagine that you are a journalist. You got an opportunity to interview any of your favourite actor/actress. Prepare atleast five questions to be asked to him/her in Direct Speech. After preparing the questions, convert them into Indirect Speech.

Suggested Reading

  1. Quirk, Randolph and Greenbaum, Sidney. A University Grammar of En-glish, abridged edition, Pearson Education Limited, 1973.
  2. Moothathu, V.K. Concise English Grammar, OU Press, 2012.
  3. Murphy, Raymond. English Grammar in Use Book with Answers: A Self-Study Reference and Practice Book for Intermediate Learners of English, 4th edition, CU Press, 2012.
  4. Thomson, A.J. and Martinet A.V. A Practical English Grammar, 4th edi-tion, OU Press, 1997.