Narration Change – Direct Speech and Indirect Speech

Narration is a speech quoted in the actual words or given in substance by the speaker or narrator.

Narration Change

Narration is of two kinds

  1. Direct Narration: When a speech quoted in the actual words used by the speaker, it (the speech) is called Direct Speech or Narration.
  2. Indirect Narration: When the speech of the speaker is reported in a narrative manner or form giving only the gist or substance, it is called Indirect Speech or Narration.
Speaker Reporting Verb Reported Speech or Direct Speech Reporter or Narrator Reporting Verb Linker Reported or Indirect Speech
He Said, “I am ill.” He said that He was ill.
Father Said to me, “Have you eaten?” Father asked me if I had eaten.

Note: The speech under the quotation marks or inverted commas (“………”) is Reported or Direct Speech and the verb introducing it is called Reporting Verb.

General Rules for change of Direct Narration into Indirect

1. A linker (that, if or whether) is generally used before the Indirect Speech.

Direct: He said, “I shall come.”
Indirect: He said that he would come.

Direct: He said, “Are you ill?”
Indirect: He asked if (or whether) I was ill.

Direct: Soham said, “Let’s play cricket.”
Indirect: Soham proposed that we should play cricket.

Direct: The commentator said, “What a nice shot it is by Ganguly!”
Indirect: The commentator exclaimed with wonder that it was a very nice shot by Ganguly.

N.B. Sometimes the linker that may also be omitted.

2. The pronouns are changed according to sense

Direct: He said to me, “I shall go to your house.”
Indirect: He told me that he would come to my house.

Direct: You said to Samar, “Have you done your job?”
Indirect: You asked Samar if he had done his job.

Direct: I said to them, “When are you coming?”
Indirect: I asked them when they were coming.

Direct: I said to Indira, “You sang so well.”
Indirect: I told Indira that she had sung so well.

3. If the Reporting Verb is in the present or future tense, the tense of the verb in the Reported Speech remains unchanged.

Direct: He says, “I am ill”.
Indirect: He says that he is ill.

Direct: Sachin will say, “I am ready”.
Indirect: Sachin will say that he is ready.

4. When the Reporting Verb is in the Past Tense, the Present Tense in the Reported Speech is changed into the corresponding Past Tense.

(a) A Simple Present becomes a Simple Past.

Direct: He said, “I am O.K.”
Indirect: He said that he was O.K.

(b) A Present Continuous becomes Past Continuous.

Direct: Krishna said, “We are singing”.
Indirect: Krishna said that they were singing.

(c) A Present Perfect becomes a Past Perfect.

Direct: Sumit said, “I have done the sum.”
Indirect: Sumit said that he had done the sum.

(d) A Past Continuous becomes a Past Perfect Continuous.

Direct: They said. “We were playing.”
Indirect: They said that they had been playing.

(e) ‘Shall’ and ‘Will’ of the Future Tense change into ‘should’ and ‘would’.

(f) In case of a universal or eternal truth, the tense of the Reported Speech remains unchanged

Direct: The teacher said. “The sun rises in the east”.
Indirect: The teacher said that the sun rises in the east.

Rules Worksheet
Exclamatory Sentence Exercise 1
Imperative Sentence Exercise 2
Interrogative Sentence Example 1
Assertive Sentence Example 2
Example 3

Assertive Sentences

Direct Speech Indirect Speech
He said, “I shall come.” He said that he would come.
She will say “I have danced well”. She will say that she has danced well.
Rahul has said. “I did the job”. Rahul has said that he did the job.
Father says, “I shall go” Father says that he will go.
He said to me. “I have worked out the sums.” He told me that he had worked out the sums.

Note: Indirect statements are generally introduced by say or tell + object. Hence told me, told him’, etc. are written in place or ‘said to me’, ‘said to him’ etc.

Direct Speech Indirect Speech
You said to me “I did the work”. You told me that you had done the work.
She said “I shall sing a song.” She said that she would sing a song.
They said to him “We were listening to music.” They said that they had been listening to music.

Note: Some words relating to place and time are changed if the Reporting Verb is in the Past Tense.

Direct Speech Indirect Speech
Now Then
Here There
This That
These Those
Ago Before
Hither Thither
Hence Thence
It It (no change)
Thus So, (in) that way
Today That day, the same day
Tomorrow The next day, the following day
Yesterday The previous day, the day before
Last night The previous night, the night before
Come Go
Go Come

Note: Change do not take place if the speaker narrates or reports the speech at the same place or during the same time.

Direct Speech Indirect Speech
Ramen says (at 2 p.m.). “My uncle will come today.” Ramen says (2 p.m.) that his uncle will come today.
Sumit said (at Midnapore), “Kshudiram was born here” Sumit said (at Midnapore) that Kshudiram was born here.
The saint said, “We can never be happy here (in the world).” The saint said that we can never be happy here.

Note: There is generally changes in the verb forms of the Modal Auxiliaries like must, should and ought to.

Direct Speech Indirect Speech
He said to me, “I-shall go to your house tomorrow.” He told me that he would come to my house the next day.
He said, “We should do our duties.” He said that they should do their duties.
They said, “We must for ought to) obey the laws of the country.” They said that they must (or ought to) obey the laws of the country.
Samar said, “We must finish the job today” Samar said that they must finish the job that day.

Exercise on Assertive Sentence

Change the Mode of Narration the following sentences :

1. I said to him, “We shall play a match tomorrow.”

2. He said to me, “I am ill and will not go to school.”

3. He said to me, “I am very sorry for this.”

4. He said to me, “You may rely on me for the job.”

5. I said to her, “You were a mere girl when I saw you last.”

6. He told me that he would come that day.

7. Ram said that he could not come as he was ill.

8. The teacher said, “Honesty is the best policy (f/m).”

9. Mother said to me, “You must be careful while you cross the road.”

10. He told me that he would come the next day.

Interrogative Sentence

Rules for Changing the Direct Speech to the Indirect :

  • The order of words in the Indirect Speech is changed from the Interrogative form to the Assertive form.
  • The Reporting Verbs (or introductory verbs) like say, tell, etc. are generally replaced by the verbs like ask, enquire (or inquire), and want to know.
  • No linker is used if there is ‘wh question words like what, when, how etc.
  • The linkers like if or whether is used when the Direct Speech does not begin with question words (wh-words).

Questions beginning with Do or Be verbs

Direct Speech Indirect Speech
He said to me, “Are you ill?” He asked me if I was ill.
I said to him, “Have you done it?” I asked him if he had done it.
They said to us. “Did you attend the meeting?” They asked us if we had attended the meeting.

Note: Generally we can use either if and whether though if is more usual.

Direct Speech Indirect Speech
“Are you weeping?” I said to him. I asked him if/whether he was weeping.
He said, “Where is the bus stand?” He asked where the bus stand was.

Note: Ask can be followed by the person addressed (indirect object) 

Direct Speech Indirect Speech
He asked or said to me, “Is the thing in your bag?” He asked me if the thing was in my bag.
He said, “Have you already eaten rice?” He inquired or wanted to know if I had already eaten rice.
Sumit said to me, “Has Tendulkar got his 35th Test hundred?” Sumit asked me if Tendulkar had got his 35th Test hundred.
“Have India lost the Sydney Test match?” he said. He inquired or wanted to know if India had lost the Sydney Test match.

Note: “Whether’ can emphasize that a choice has to be made.

Direct Speech Indirect Speech
“Do you want to go the zoo or the museum?” father said to Father asked me whether I wanted to go to the zoo or the museum.
“Do you want to insure your luggage or not.” he asked. He asked whether I wanted to insure my luggage or not.

Question Words (Wh-words)

Direct Speech Indirect Speech
I said to him, “What is your name?” I asked him what his name was.
He said to me, “Where do you live?” He asked me where I lived.
I said to them, “Who you are and what do you want of us?” I asked them who they were and what they wanted of us.
“Whose pen are you writing with?” I said to Soma. I enquired of Soma whose pen she was writing with.
He said to me, “You are going to the circus. aren’t you?” He asked him if he would go to Mumbai the next day.
I said to him, “Will you go to Mumbai tomorrow?” He asked me what I had been doing there.
He said to me. “What were you doing there?” The stranger wanted to know what the way to the station was.
“What’s the way to the station?”, the stranger said. I asked him who the highest wicket taker in the match was.

Tag Questions

Direct Speech Indirect Speech
He said to me, “You are going to the circus, aren’t you?” He asked me whether I was going to the circus and assured that I was (going).
He said to Vivek, “We have enjoyed the cricket match, haven’t we?” He asked Vivek whether they had enjoyed the cricket match and assured that they had.

Questions ‘Yes’ ‘No’ Answers

Direct Speech Indirect Speech
I said to him, “Are you ill?” He replied, “Yes”. I asked him if he was ill. and he replied that he was.
The co-passenger said to me, “Has Coromondel Express arrived”? I replied, “No”. The co-passenger asked me if the Coromandel Express had arrived and I replied that it had nut (or I replied in the negative).

Exercise on Interrogative Sentence

Change the following into the Indirect Speech :

1. I said to him, “Are you fit for the match!”

2. They said to me, “Do you want to play with us!”

3. She said to her brother, ‘Will you go to school today?”

4. Father said to me, “How have you performed in n the exam?”

5. He said to his friend, “What did you tell the man?”

6. I said to my friend, “When will the exam start?”

7. He said to me, “We have relished (at the food, haven’t we?”

8. I said to the boy, “What is your father?”

9. The doctor said to the patient, “How are you today?”

10. “Where do you live?” the man said to me.

11. He said to me, “You are going to the playground, aren’t you?”

12. The bowler said to the umpire, “How’s that?”

Imperative Sentences (commands, requests etc.)

Rules for Changing into the Indirect Speech :

  • The verb in the Reported Speech is changed into the Infinitive form (Reported Speech verb Infinitive form.
  • The Reporting Verb is changed into some words as tell, request, order, command, beg and entreat according to the sense of the speech.
  • In case of the Negative Imperative not is used before the Infinitive. But if the Reporting Verb is forbid’ or ‘prohibit nor is omitted.
  • The words like please, kindly, sir, etc. are replaced in the Indirect Speech by the words like request, or say politely etc.
Direct Speech Indirect Speech
The teacher said to the students. “Work out the sums.” The teacher told or ordered the students to work out the sums.
The general said to the soldiers. “March on” The general ordered the soldiers to march on.
Father said to me, “Work long and hard.” Father advised or told me to work long and hard.
They said to us. “Don’t behave this way. They forbade us to behave that way.

Note: “Tell’ may be used in case there is doubt about the proper word to introduce the reported speech.

Direct Speech Indirect Speech
The teacher said to the students. “Don’t make a noise.” The teacher told or ordered or commanded the students not to make a noise.
He said to me, “Please (or kindly) lend me your pen.” He requested me to lend him my pen.
I said to him, “Excuse me. Sir”. I begged him to excuse me.
The father said to the son. “Don’t run in the sun.” The father forbade the son to run in the sun.

Note: Vocatives may be omitted or may be replaced by the expressions as given below.

Direct Speech Indirect Speech
He said, “Robin, do the work.” He told Robin to do the work.
I said, “Friends, please listen to me. I addressing (or addressed them as friends and) as friends. I requested them to listen to me.
He shouted, “Shut up, you liar!” He shouted to the liar to shut up.

Rules: Let’s or Let us in the Direct Speech expresses a suggestion or proposal and is reported by the verb suggest or propose followed by preposition to and should in the Indirect Speech.

Direct Speech Indirect Speech
He said to me. “Let’s go out for a walk.” He suggested or proposed to me that we should go out for a walk.
Wasim said to his friends, “Let us playa cricket in the park”. Wasim proposed or suggested to his friends that they should play cricket in the park.
I said to him, “Let’s have a cup of coffee.” I suggested or proposed to him that we should have a cup of coffee.

Rule: When Let does not express a proposal or suggestion, it is changed into might or might be allowed or into some other form as per sense.

Direct Speech Indirect Speech
I said to him, “Let him say whatever he likes.” I said that he might (or might be allowed to) to say whatever he liked.
He said, “Let me say something.” He requested that he might be allowed to say something.
Bina said, “Let me sing a song.” Bina wished that she might sing a song.

Exercise of Imperative Sentences

Change the following into the Indirect Speech :

1. The general said, “Shoot at sight.”

2. He said to me, “Please lend me your pen.”

3. Father said to me, “Don’t run in the rain.”

4. Soham said to Subham. “Let’s go to the seaside.”

5. The teacher said to the students. “Don’t make a noise in the class and listen to my words.”

6. He said to the headmaster, “Kindly excuse me this time.”

7. She said to her friend, “Let us listen to the golden music of yester years.

8. He said, “Let the children do whatever they like.”

9. The examiner said to me, “Don’t repeat such silly mistakes.”

10. I said to him, “My friend, wait here for some time.”

11. We said to Ramen Babu. “Sir, please work out the sums.”

12. The mother said to the son. “Don’t swim in the river.”

Optative Sentence [wishes, prayers etc.]

Wishes or prayers of Optative Sentences become statements in the Indirect Speech and the Reporting Verb is changed to wish or pray.

Direct Speech Indirect Speech
The old man said to me, “May God bless you.” The old man prayed that God might bless me.
He said to me. “May you succeed”. He wished or prayed that I might succeed.
Pritam said, “If I were the captain of the Indian cricket team”. Pritam wished that he might be the captain of the Indian cricket team.
The leader said, “Long live revolution.” The leader wished that the revolution lived long.
I said to my friend. “May you recover soon”. I wished that my friend might recover soon.
He said to Ram. “May you live in peace.” He wished that Ram might live in peace.
The old woman said, “May God grant you a long life.” The old woman wished that God might grant me a long life.

Exercise of Optative Sentences

Change the following into the Indirect Speech:

1. He said to me, “May God bless you.”

2. The monk said, “May God pardon the sinner.”

3. They said, “May his soul rest in peace.”

4. He said, “May you prosper in life.”

5. The headmaster said, “May you all pass the exam.”

6. He said, “If I were the Prime Minister of India.”

7. The spiritual leader said, “May peace prevail everywhere on earth.”

8. He said to me.” May you recover soon”.

9. Father said to the son. “May you be a good citizen.”

10. He said, “Had I the wings of a bird.”

Exclamatory Sentence (sudden emotion etc.)

Exclamations usually become statements in Indirect Speech and the exclamation mark (!) disappears. The Reporting Verb is changed to the verbs like exclaim, cry out, pray, wish, applaud, etc.

Direct Speech Indirect Speech
He said to me, “What a fool you are!” He exclaimed (cried out) that I was a great fool.
She said, “What a fine flower it is!” She exclaimed in wonder that it was a very fine flower.
They said, “Hurrah! We have won the match.” They exclaimed in (or with) joy that they had won the match.
The boy said, “Alas! Our pet dog is dead”. The boy exclaimed in (or with) grief that their pet (c) dog was dead.
Tony Greig said, “What a shot it is by Sachin Tendulkar!” Tony Greig exclaimed (or cried out) in wonder that it was a great shot by Sachin Tendulkar.
He said to me, “Good morning!” He bade (greeted/wished) me good morning.
Rohit said. “By Jove! What a good news.” Rohit swore by Jove that it was a very good news.
He said, “Poor fellow! How changed you are!’ He pitied the man and exclaimed that he was greatly changed.
The men said to me, “Bravo! You have done that well.” The man applauded them saying they had done well.
He said, “Good bye, my friends.” He bade/knew good bye to his friends.
I said to Peter, “Merry Christmas”. I wished Peter a merry Christmas.
He said to me “Happy New Year.” He wished me a happy New Year.
The old man said to us, “Fie! You are such cowards.” The old man exclaimed in disgust that we were very cowards.

Exercise on Exclamatory Sentences

Change the following into the Indirect Speech :

1. He said to me, “What a fine sight it is!”

2. She said to me, “Good evening.”

3. They said, “Hurrah! India have beaten Pakistan in cricket.”

4. I said to him, “By God! I never meant you any harm.”

5. I said to him, “Happy birthday to you.”

6. She said, “Alas! The old man is dead.”

7. He said, “Fie! You are a liar.”

8. Ravi Shastri said, “What a great catch it is by Yuvraj Singh!”

9. The Greg Chappell said to the players, “Bravo! You have done pretty well.”

10. I said to them, “Good night to each of you.”

Dialogues and Conversations Reporting

1. Dialogue: I said to him, “Have you worked out the sum?”
He said, “No.”

Reporting: When I asked him if he had worked out the sum, he replied (or answered) that he had not.

2. Dialogue : Arun: Would you lend me your pen?
Barun: No, I can’t lend you my pen. I shall be writing now.

Reporting: Arun asked Barun if he would lend him his pen. Barun in reply refused to lend his pen because he would be writing then.

3. Dialogue : Davy: You have a trade, at present, Mr. Faraday?
Faraday Yes, Sir, I am a book-binder.
Davy: And you desire to change?
Faraday: Yes, Sir, I am anxious to do so.
Davy: Why?

Reporting: Davy asked Faraday if Faraday had a trade at that time. Faraday replied that he was a book-binder. Then Davy asked him if he desired to change his trade. Faraday told him politely that he was anxious to do so. Davy wanted to know the reason.

4. Dialogue : Father How do you feel, Schatz?
Schatz Just the same, so far.
Father: Why don’t you to sleep? I’ll wake you up for the medicine.

Reporting: Schatz’s father asked him how he felt. Schatz replied that he felt the same till that time. His father then asked him why he did not try to sleep. He also added that he would wake him up for medicine.

5. Dialogue Rajarshi: Where are you going now?
Saptarshi: To Kharagpur.
Rajarshi: Why are you going there?
Saptarshi: To meet my grandfather.

Reporting: Rajarshi asked Saptarshi where he was going then. Saptarshi replied that he was going to Kharagpur. Rajarshi further asked why Saptarshi was going there. He replied he was going there to meet his grandfather.

6. Dialogue : Gandhi: You don’t like vegetables?
Fischer: I don’t like the taste of these vegetables three days running.
Gandhi: Ah, you must add plenty of salt and lemon.
Fischer: You want me kill the taste?
Gandhi: (laughing) No, enrich the taste.

Reporting: Gandhi asked Fischer if he liked vegetables. Fischer replied that he did not like the taste of those vegetables three days running. Gandhi told sympathetically that he must add plenty of salt and lemon. Fischer inquired if Gandhi wanted to kill the taste. Gandhi laughingly told that he did not want to kill the taste but to enrich it.

Reporting Speech Exercise

Report the following dialogues:

1. “Mr. Faraday?” Davy put his hand out.
“Yes, Sir Humphry”, said Michael, jumping to his feet.
“Let’s sit down here and talk the matter over” began Davy.

2. Can you cure a headache?
Chemist (Thrusting a bottle under the man’s hose) : I am sure your headache is gone.
Man: You fool. It is my wife that has got the headache, not me.

3. “I am waited for in Egypt”, said the swallow. “My friends are flying up and down the Nile, and talking to the large lotus-flowers. Soon they will go to sleep in the tomb of the great king.
“Swallow. Swallow, little Swallow,” said the Prince. “Will you not stay with me for one night. and be my messenger? The boy is so thirsty, and the mother so sad.”

4. “But where is your little companion ()?” he said, “the boy I put into the tree.” “We don’t know”, answered the children. “he has gone away.”
“You must tell him to be sure and come tomorrow,” said the Giant.