Reporting speech There are two ways of reporting what somebody says

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Direct and indirect speech


Reporting speech

There are two ways of reporting what somebody says;

  • direct speech
  • indirect (or reported) speech.

Direct Speech

In direct speech we use the speaker’s own words.
“In text we put speech marks around the words spoken”
“Speech marks are also called inverted commas”

Indirect speech

In indirect speech (sometimes called reported speech) we do not use the exact words of the speaker.

Instead we report what was said.

We sometimes need to change pronouns and verb tenses. We don’t use speech marks.

“I am going home.”
Helen said she was going home.

Punctuating Direct Speech.

When using direct speech in your writing you need to use the correct punctuation.

  • The exact words spoken must be enclosed in speech marks.
  • The first word of the speech must begin with a capital letter.
  • The words in the speech marks must be separated from the rest of the sentence by a comma.
  • You must use a new line when a new speaker begins to speak.

Using Speech in Your Writing

Using speech in fiction and non-fiction writing adds variety.

However, writing out long pieces of direct speech can make your writing confusing. It also slows down the action.

Reported speech can summarise what the speaker has said so that the action moves along more quickly.

Reported speech is useful when you want a contrast between what a character says and what he or she is thinking. (e.g. Lady Macbeth)

Advantages and disadvantages of each type of speech.

  • Direct speech can show what a character is like.
  • Long speeches can be boring.
  • Too many speakers can confuse the reader.
  • Direct speech can add variety to writing.
  • Indirect speech can be summarised briefly so that it does not slow down the pace of the action.
  • It can show a contrast between what a character is saying and what he or she is thinking.

Interrogative Sentences

Those sentences, which ask questions, are called interrogative sentences. Every interrogative sentence ends at a sign of interrogation.


Do you live here?

Have you ever watched the Terminator III movie?

Is it raining?

To convert interrogative sentences into Indirect Speech, follow the following rules along with the above-mentioned rules:

Reporting Verb said to is changed into asked.

If reporting speech is having reporting verb at it its start, then if is used in place of that.

If the reporting speech is having interrogative words like who, when, how, why, when then neither if is used nor any other word is added.

Interrogative Sentences

Exclamatory Sentences

Those sentences, which express our feelings and emotions, are called exclamatory sentences. Mark of exclamation is used at the end of an exclamatory sentence.


Hurray! We have won the match.

Alas! He failed the test.

How beautiful that dog is!

What a marvellous personality you are!

To change exclamatory sentences into Indirect Speech using direct indirect rules, follow the following rules along with the above-mentioned rules:

In case, there is an interjection i.e., alas, aha, hurray, aha etc in the reported speech, then they are omitted along with the sign of exclamation using reported speech rules.

Reporting verb i.e. said is always replaced with exclaimed with joy, exclaimed with sorrow, exclaimed joyfully, exclaimed sorrowfully or exclaimed with great wonder or sorrow.

In case, there is what or how at the beginning of the reported speech, then they are replaced with very or very great.

Learn about Types of Conjunction Explained

Exclamatory Sentences

Us using the reports of speech in different tenses

Exercises for practicing

1.I asked her,"When do you do your homework?"

2. We asked her,"Are you ill?"

3. Teacher said, "I haven't checked your homeworks yet".

4. Ann said,"The film will begin at 7 pm".

5.Sally wanted to know," Does he know Robert?"

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