Direct and indirect speech

Posted by Manjusha. Filed in English Grammar

There are two main ways of reporting people's thoughts, words, beliefs etc.

Direct speech

We can repeat or quote the exact words spoken. This kind of reporting is called direct speech.

Indirect (reported) speech

We can make a speaker's words or thoughts part of our sentence, using conjunctions (e.g. that) and changing pronouns, tenses and other words when necessary. This kind of reporting is called indirect speech or reported speech.


Rules for indirect speech

There are some grammatical differences between direct and indirect speech. These changes are mostly natural and logical, and it is not necessary to learn complicated rules about indirect speech in English.


Dropping that

The conjunction that is often dropped, especially after common reporting verbs (e.g. say, think) in informal speech.

That cannot be dropped after certain verbs (e.g. reply, telegraph, shout).

Sections in this article

Direct and indirect speech
Rules for the change of pronouns
Reporting verb
Rules for the change of tenses
Rules for the change of adverbs
Reporting hopes, intentions and promises
Reporting orders, requests and advice
Reporting questions
Reporting questions: grammar exercise
Reported speech exercise
Reporting Yes/No questions