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Basic Rules to Change Direct Speech into Indirect Speech


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When a direct speech is turned into indirect, the following changes are usually applied.

  1. Replace the inverted commas with an appropriate conjunction
  2. Change the pronoun of reported speech
  3. Change the reporting verb according to the reported speech
  4. Change the adverb of the direct speech
  5. Change in words

For example 

Direct: Ahmad said, "I can fix it now."
Indirect: Ahmad said that he could fix it then.

In the example, the inverted commas are replaced by the conjunction "that"

The pronoun "I" changes into "he."

The word "now" is changed with "then."

We use say and tell instead of said who we are talking to.

Further Examples
  • Direct: He said, "The weather is cold here."
  •               He said the weather was cold there.
  • Direct: Sara said, "I studied it last month."
  •               Sara said that she had studied that the month before.

Rules of Change of Pronouns in the Indirect Speech

Changes in First Person Pronouns in Indirect Speech

If the pronouns I, we, me, my, mine, us, ours come in the reported speech (i.e., inside inverted commas), it is changed according to the subject of the reporting verb (i.e., a verb used in reporting speech)

Usually, the pronouns changes in indirect speech in the following way.
"I" changes into "He, She"
"We" changes into "They."
"My" changes into "His, Her"
"Our" changes into "Their."

Direct Speech Indirect Speech
She says to me, "It is my house." She says to me that it is her house.
Ahmad said to me, "I am working now." Ahmad told me that he was working then.
They said, "They were waiting the whole day." They said they had been waiting the whole day.
The woman said to me, "This is my car." The woman told me that that was her car.
Akram said to us, "leave me alone." Akram requested us to leave him alone.

Changes in Second Person Pronouns in Indirect Speech

In the indirect speech, the pronoun, i.e., you, becomes the object of the reporting verb.

Direct Speech Indirect Speech
Atif said to his sister, "You can't do this." Atif told his sister that she couldn't do that.
Akbar said to his son, "Will you come with me." Akbar asked his son if he comes with him.
David said, "You cannot meet the doctor now. David said to me that you could not meet the doctor then.
You say, "My relatives are very kind to me." You say that your relatives are very kind to you.
I brought my laptop yesterday; the laptop on the table is mine. He said that he had brought his laptop yesterday; the laptop on the table was his.

Changes in Third Person Pronouns in Indirect Speech

The pronouns He, she, it, his, her, him, they, their, and them are third person pronoun and do not change in the reported speech.

Direct Speech Indirect Speech
Saima said, "He is an amiable man." Saima said that he was an amiable man.
Akbar said, "She writes an email." Akbar said that she wrote an email.
The policeman said, "His bag is empty." The policeman said that his bag was empty.
He said, "It is hard to learn English in one year." He said that it was hard to learn English in one year.

Change in Reporting Verb in Indirect Speech

Reporting verb in indirect speech changes according to the reported speech. Common reporting verbs used in indirect speech are say, tell, said, ask, admit, exclaimed, etc. the reporting verb is changed into tell or told if an object follows it in direct speech; otherwise, it is retained as it is. 

For Example 
Direct: His father says, "He is ill."
Indirect: His father says that he is ill.
Direct: David said to us, "I will be staying here for one month."
Indirect: David told us that he would be staying there for one month.

Changes in Words in Indirect Speech

  • Changes in Adverbs of time
  • Changes in Adverbs Place
  • Changes in Demonstrative


Now/just => then

For example
Direct: Ali said, "I am going now."
Indirect: Ali said (that) he was going then.

Today => that day

For example
Direct: Kamran said, "I will not attempt the meeting today."
Indirect: Kamran said that he would not attempt the meeting that day.

Ago => before

For example
Direct: Mike said, "They left three hours ago."
Indirect: Mike said that they had left three hours before.

Tomorrow => the next day

For example
Direct: Aslam said, "I'll be back tomorrow."
Indirect: Aslam said that he would be back the following day.

Yesterday => the previous day or the day before

For example
Direct: Barbara said to me, "I met him yesterday."
Indirect: Barbara said to me (that) she met him the day before.

Last night/day => the previous night or day/the night/day before

For example
Direct: Mr. Johnson said, "I met you last year.'
Indirect: Mr. Johnson said that he had met me the previous year.

Next-day/month/year => the following day/month/year

For example
Direct: "My brother has an appointment next month," she said.
Indirect: She said that her brother had an appointment the following month.

The day before yesterday => two days before

For example
Direct: I called her the day before yesterday", sanu said.
Indirect: Sanu said that he had called her two days before

The day after tomorrow => in two days 
 
For example
Direct: Susan said, "I will lend you some money the day after tomorrow."
Indirect: Susan said that he would lend me some money in two days.

Here => there

For example
Direct: He said, "We will meet here again."
Indirect: He said that we would meet there again.

These => those
Thus => so
This => that

For example
Direct: Numan said to him, "This is your book."
Indirect: Numan said to him that that is your book.

The word they change into the when it is used as an adjective. For example

Direct: Mark said to me, "This place is boring."
Indirect: Mark told me (that) the place was boring. (This changed to the)

But when they are used as pronouns, they transform into it or they/them. For example

Direct: Aslam said, "This is an unusual situation."
Indirect: Aslam said that it was an unusual situation.
Direct: Sara said, "Those are the students who helped me."
Indirect: Sara said that they were the students who had helped her. (Those changed to they)

We can change this, that, these and those into it, they/them or the when they aren't used to describe time.

The adverb here will become there only when there is a reference to place. For example,   
    
At the party, Tom said, 'I'll invite him here again."                                                            
Tom said that he would invite him there again. 
Here can also be replaced by some phrase. For example
Sara said, "You can sit here, Ahmad." Sara told Ahmad that he could sit beside her.

Examples
Direct: He said, "Are they going to live with us?"
Indirect: He asked if they were going to live with them.
Direct: 'Where should I place these books.'
Indirect: She asked me where she should put the books.

When the speech is reported the same day, today, tonight, and tomorrow's adverb does not change.

Examples
Direct: This morning, they said, "We will start combine study tomorrow."
Indirect: This morning, they said that they would start combine study tomorrow.
Direct: He said today, "I am going tonight."
Indirect: He said today that he was going tonight.

Reporting Negative Statements

The same rules are applied in negative reporting as in direct speech. Not is used with an auxiliary verb. If we negate the main verb, the word does not come between the object and the main verb.

Examples
  • Direct: We don't work together.
  • Indirect: He said they didn't work together.
  • Direct: We aren't starting work today.
  • Indirect: He said they weren't starting work that day.
  • Direct: He said to me, "You should not go with them."
  • Indirect: He advised me not to go with them.
Sometimes the main verb in the reported speech is not made negative; instead, reporting speech is made negative.

Direct: I believe he will come.
Indirect: I don't believe he would come.
Direct: We expect he will not find it.
Indirect: We don't expect he would find it.




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