Indirect speech in English in practice

Reported speech: indirect speech

Indirect speech in English: rules and practice

Indirect or Reported Speech is an integral part of English grammar, utilized for conveying the words, questions, and thoughts of others without quoting them verbatim. This proves especially useful in everyday conversations, academic writing, and when narrating stories or anecdotes. In this article, we will delve into the fundamental rules of using indirect speech and provide insightful examples. Towards the end of the article, you’ll have the opportunity to test your knowledge with 20 practical quiz questions.

Basic Rules of Indirect Speech in English

Change of Tense

In indirect speech, the tense of the main verb typically shifts when the main verb is in the past. For instance:

  • Direct Speech: “He says, ‘I eat apples.’
  • Indirect Speech: He said he ate apples.

The choice of tense in reported speech depends on the context. For example, “I am” becomes “he/she/it was,” and “I will” becomes “he/she/it would.” When the original sentence uses Present Simple, use Past Simple in indirect speech.

Alteration of Pronouns

Personal pronouns change according to the subject or object of the direct speech. For example:

  • Direct Speech: “She says to him, ‘I like your dress.'”
  • Indirect Speech: She tells him that she likes his dress.

Personal pronouns may vary based on the situation. For instance, “I” becomes “he/she/it,” and “we” becomes “they.”

Modification of Demonstratives and Adverbs of Place and Time

Words indicating location or time need modification in indirect speech. For example:

  • Direct Speech: “This will help us here.”
  • Indirect Speech: That would help us there.

Demonstrative pronouns and adverbs of time may change: “this” becomes “that,” “here” becomes “there,” and “today” becomes “that day.”

Demonstrative pronouns and adverbs of place may change: “now” becomes “then,” “today” becomes “that day.”

Transformation of Questions

General questions can be connected using “if” or “whether,” while special questions maintain their structure without a question mark.

  • Direct Speech: “Are you coming to the party?”
  • Indirect Speech: She asked if I was coming to the party.

Handling Reporting Verbs

Change reporting verbs based on the situation. Use alternative verbs like “ask,” “inform,” or “promise” when necessary.

  • Direct Speech: “He said, ‘I can help.'”
  • Indirect Speech: He offered to help.

Examples of Transforming Direct Speech into Indirect Speech

Change of Time and Person:

  • Direct Speech: “She said, ‘I will call you tomorrow.'”
  • Indirect Speech: She said that she would call me tomorrow.

Transformation of Questions:

  • Direct Speech: “Did he ask, ‘What time is it?'”
  • Indirect Speech: He asked what time it was.

Conversion of Statements into Questions:

  • Direct Speech: “He told me, ‘You are late.'”
  • Indirect Speech: He asked me if I was late.

Conversion of Questions into Statements:

  • Direct Speech: “Have they asked, ‘Can we come in?'”
  • Indirect Speech: They asked if they could come in.

Handling Requests:

  • Direct Speech: “She said, ‘Please help me.'”
  • Indirect Speech: She asked me to help her.

Modification of Time and Pronouns:

  • Direct Speech: “They said, ‘We will finish the project tomorrow.'”
  • Indirect Speech: They said that they would finish the project the next day.

Translating Questions into Indirect Speech:

  • Direct Speech: “John asked, ‘Are you coming to the party?'”
  • Indirect Speech: John asked if I was coming to the party.

Changing Direct Speech to Indirect Speech:

  • Direct Speech: “She said, ‘I love this place.'”
  • Indirect Speech: She said that she loved that place.

Practice – indirect speech in English – Test

Having familiarized ourselves with the rules, let’s move on to practice. In everyday English, we often use indirect speech when we relay conversations or information to third parties.

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Reported speech: indirect speech

Indirect speech in English in practice - Test

My sister said: “I hope we shall go on an excursion to the lake”.

My sister said that ___ on an excursion to the lake”.

Nick: “Did you see a bird in the tree?”

Nick wonders ___ in the tree.

“Do you go in for sports?”, he asked.

He asked ___ .

Peter said, “Alice, are you busy now?”

Peter asked Alice ___ .

“Did you work at a factory 3 years ago?” she asked her friend.

She asked her friend if she ___ .

“Will Tom help me?” she said.

She asked ___ .

Mother asked me ___ .

Lena said, “Where have you been yesterday?”

Lena asked ___ .

Mother: “We are going to have supper”.

Mother says ___ .

Ann: “Is your sister good at English?”

Ann asked me ___ .

He said, “I’m very busy today.”

He said ___ .

Jack said: “I was at home yesterday.”

Jack said ___ .

The teacher promised ___ .

Tom: “Don’t forget to bring my book, Ann”.

Tom asked Ann: ___ .

Ann: Write down my address.

Ann asked me ___ .

He thought: “What am I going to do?”

He thought ___ .

Bill: “Have you seen any interesting comedy lately, Nancy?”

Bill asked Nancy ___ .

Jim and Julia have been in the restaurant for an hour and they have not been served yet. Julia is angry. “You said ___ a good place’’

“Don’t play in the street!”

Dick to Lucy: Have you received my telegram ?

Dick asked if ___ .

Your score is

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Learning indirect speech is important for communicating in English at a high level. By applying these rules and exercises in practice, you will improve your skills and learn to effectively express other people’s words and thoughts.

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