Reporting – Direct & Indirect Speech: CBSE Class 10 Grammar

What is narration? Showing people’s exact words in quotation marks (” _”) is called direct speech. When you are reporting what someone said, or do not use their exact words and you do not use quotation marks. Instead, you use a verb said or told followed by that and noun clause. This is called indirect speech (or reported speech). 

Direct and Indirect Speech Narration

Direct Speech (Direct Narration): The reporting of the words of the speaker without making any changes to it is known as Direct Speech. Direct speech is shown inside double quotation marks.

Indirect Speech (Indirect Narration): The act of reporting the words of the speaker by making necessary changes to it is called Indirect Speech. In indirect speech, while narrating something, changes are made in the original words of the person. For example, tenses and pronouns are changed according to the reporting verb. See the examples below:

(i) The teacher said to me, “I am satisfied with your progress report.” (Direct speech)
(ii) The teacher told me that he was satisfied with my progress report. (Indirect speech)

In sentence (i) we can notice that this is the speaker’s direct narration as it is shown inside double quotation marks, but in sentence (ii) tense and pronouns are changed and quotation marks are removed.

See some more examples to observe the rules:

He said, “I work in a factory.” (Direct speech)
He said that he worked in a factory. (Indirect speech)

They said, “We are going to the cinema.” (Direct speech)
They said that they were going to the cinema. (Indirect speech).

She said, “I am playing.” (Direct speech)
She said that she was playing. (Indirect speech)

Ashish said to me, “I shall go to the market today.” (Direct speech)
Ashish told me that he would go to the market that day. (Indirect speech)


Basic Rules of conversion into Indirect Speech

a) Direct Speech

i) Put the words spoken by the speaker within” ” (double quotes or double inverted commas).
ii) Separate the reporting verb from the direct speech by a comma.
iii) Begin the first word inside inverted commas with a capital letter.

b) Indirect Speech

i) Change the reporting verb according to the sense conveyed by the speech.
ii) Do not change the tense of the reporting verb.
iii) Remove the comma separating the reporting verb from the direct speech.
iv) Remove inverted commas.
v) Introduce the indirect speech by some connector like that, if, whether, what, where, how, why etc. depending on whether you want to transform a statement, question or request, as the case may be.
vi) Convert all kinds of sentences into assertive statements.
vii) Make other necessary changes in person, verb forms, time, place and expression.

Some changes to consider

a) 1st person (I, we, etc.) –> change according to the subject of the reporting verb.
b) 2nd person (You, your, etc.) –> change according to the object of the reporting verb.
c) 3rd person (He, she, it, they, his, her etc.) –> make no change.
d) 1st person changes into 3rd person if the reporting verb has not object mentioned.

Rules for Changing Simple Direct Speech into Indirect Speech

RulesDirect SpeechIndirect Speech
Remove separating comma, inverted commas and use the connector ‘that’ when there is no object in the sentence.He said, “I work in a shipyard. “Sheena said, “My teacher is highly educated.”He said that he worked in a shipyard. Sheena said that her teacher was highly educated.
The reporting verb ‘said’ becomes ‘told’ along with the subject and the connector ‘that’ when it is followed by an object.Kamya said to me, “You have been a great help. “He said to me, “I shall go to the party.”Kamya told me that I have been a great help. He told me that he would go the party.

Changes in Reported Speech with Respect to the Tense

Present Tense

RulesDirect SpeechIndirect Speech
Simple Present changes into Simple PastHe said, “I do not like computers. ” They said, “We love our country.”He said that he did not like computers. They said that they loved their country.
Present continuous changes into past continuousI said, “It is raining. “She said, “I am not laughing.”I said that it was raining. She said that she was not laughing.
Present perfect changes into past perfectShe said, “He has finished his work. ” They said, “We have not gone to New York.”She said that he had finished his work. They said that they had not gone to New York
Present perfect continuous changes into past perfect continuousHe said, “I have been studying since 3 o’clock. Radha said, “It has been raining for three days.”He said that he had been studying since 3 o’ clock. Radha said that it had been raining for three days.

Past Tense

RulesDirect SpeechIndirect Speech
Simple past changes into past perfectMy teacher said to me, “You answered correctly.”
He said, “I didn’t buy a car.”
My teacher told me that I had answered correctly.
He said that he had not bought a car.
Past continuous changes into past perfect continuousThey said, “We are enjoying the weather.”
He said, “Mohit was listening to the music.”
They said that they had been enjoying the weather.
He said that Mohit had been listening to the music.
Past perfect remains past perfect (tense does not change)He said, “I had started a business.”
I said, “She had eaten the meal.”
He said that he had started a business.
I said that she had eaten the meal.

Future Tense

RulesDirect SpeechIndirect Speech
Simple future: will changes into wouldHe said, “I will study the book. ” They said to me, “We will send you gifts.”He said that he would study the book. They told me that they would send me gifts.
Future continuous: will be changes into would beShreya told him, ” I will be waiting for you. “He said, “He will not be flying kites.”Shreya told him that she would be waiting for him. He said that he would not be flying kites.
Future perfect: will have changes into would haveHe said, “I will have finished the work. “Narayan said, “I will have gone.”He said that he would have finished the work. Narayan said that he would have gone.

Rules for Changing Interrogative Sentences into Indirect Speech. (The reporting verb ‘said’ becomes ‘asked’ and ‘to’ is removed)

RulesDirect SpeechIndirect Speech
Use ‘if’ or ‘whether’ in place of ‘that’ as a connector.She said to me, “Do you like tea or coffee?”She asked me whether I liked tea or coffee.
Remove the question mark while forming an assertive sentence.She said to Shyam, “Do you have an extra copy.”She asked Shyam if he had an extra copy.
The questions starting with question words like when, why, where, do not use ‘if; or ‘whether’. The question words are retained to introduce the reported question.He said, “What is your problem? “She said, “Why are you not coming?”He asked me what my problem was. She asked me why I was not coming.

Rules for Changing Imperative Sentences into Indirect Speech. (Commands, Requests and Suggestions)

RulesDirect SpeechIndirect Speech
Use conjunction ‘to’ instead of ‘that’.I said to Hari, “Do not pluck the flowers. “The principal said to the students, “Get out of the office.”I ordered Hari not to pluck the flowers. The principal ordered the students to get out of the office.
In sentences beginning with ‘Let’, the reporting verb is changed to ‘proposed’ or ‘suggested’.He said, “Let us keep quiet in this matter.”He suggested that we should keep quiet in this matter.

Rules for Changing Exclamatory Sentences into Indirect Speech

RulesDirect SpeechIndirect Speech
Words such as Alas, Bravo, Oh, Wow, Wah should be left out in indirect speech.Ram said, “Alas! I have been ruined.”Ram exclaimed with sorrow that he had been runed.
Forms of the verb ‘wish’ is used if the sentence conveys a wish.She said, “If I were a bird.”She wished to be a bird. /She wished that she were a bird.

All Changes Summarised

Rules of tense ChangesPronoun Changes Space & time related Changes
is, am, are – was, were
has, have – had
go – went
did-had + 3rd form of the verb
was, were – had been
will – would
shall – should
can – could
1st Person – according to the subject

2nd Person
i) according to the object
ii) changed to 3rd or 1st person if the reporting verb has no object.

3rd Person – unchanged.
now – then
ago – before
today – that day
last night – the previous night or the night before
next week – the following week
here – there
hither – thither
this – that
thus – so

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