1. Direct and indirect speeches are two ways used in reporting what someone has said. They are mostly used in spoken English. It is important to learn how the transformation goes so as to be accurate in your interactions with the others.
2. When someone says, said or has said something, we can report it either directly or indirectly. When we report it directly, we call it direct speech; if we transform what someone said to report it indirectly, we call it indirect or reported speech.
He said, “ I’ve lost my umbrella”
Indirect or reported speech:
He said (that) he had lost his umbrella
The makeover of a direct utterance to indirect speech has to abide to some rules.
When the reporting verb (e.g. SAY, TELL) is in the present simple [She says] or the present perfect [He has told us] or the future simple tense [They will tell you], there’s no change of tense at all.
She says, “John prefers tea”
She has told us that John prefers tea.
Yet, once the reporting verb is in the past (e.g. SAID, TOLD, REPORTED? etc), many changes occur depending of course on the tense used in the moment of speaking.
1. In direct speech the reporter repeats the original words of the speaker:
Zakiah said, “The cat has broken the vase.”
2. In the indirect (reported) speech the reporter gives the exact meaning of the speaker’s utterance without necessarily repeating the exact words of the speaker:
Zakiah said (that) the cat had broken the vase.
In indirect (reported) speech the tenses have to be changed in a way that the reporter (you) goes a step back in the time line with each tense. For instance, if the tense in the time of speaking (direct speech) is the present, it becomes past in the reported speech. If it is in the past, it is reported in the past perfect, if it is in the future, it is reported in the conditional and so on. Study this,
Direct Speech Indirect Speech
do /does =========> did
am / is / are doing ====> was / were doing
have / has done =====> had done
did ==========> had done
shall do ==========> should do
will do =========> would do
can do ========> could do
must do ========> had to do
needn’t do ========> didn’t have to do
should do ========> should have done
would do ========> would have done
could do ========> could have done
N.B.: These tense changes are automatic only after past tense reporting verbs (said, told, informed, explained, etc).
Some other expressions (signifiers) such as the adverbs of time and place also change
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