Direct speech & Indirect speech

 We often have to give information about what people say or think. In order to do this you can use direct or quoted speech, or indirect or reported speech.

Direct Speech / Quoted Speech
Saying exactly what someone has said is called direct speech (sometimes called quoted speech) Here what a person says appears within quotation marks ("...") and should be word for word.

For example:
She said, "Today's lesson is on presentations."     "Today's lesson is on presentations," she said.

Indirect Speech / Reported Speech
Indirect speech (sometimes called reported speech), doesn't use quotation marks to enclose what the person said and it doesn't have to be word for word.
When reporting speech the tense usually changes. This is because when we use reported speech, we are usually talking about a time in the past (because obviously the person who spoke originally spoke in the past). The verbs therefore usually have to be in the past too.

For example:
Direct speech                                      Indirect speech
"I'm going to the cinema", he said.     He said he was going to the cinema.

Tense change
As a rule when you report something someone has said you go back a tense: (the tense on the left changes to the tense on the right):

Direct speech                                                             Indirect speech
1. Present simple                                                       Past simple

2. Present continuous                                                Past continuous

3. Present perfect simple                                          Past perfect simple

4. Present perfect continuous                                   Past perfect continuous

5. Past simple                                                             Past perfect

6. Past continuous                                                      Past perfect continuous

7. Past perfect                                                            Past perfect
8. Past perfect continuous                                        Past perfect continuous

Modal verb forms also sometimes change:
Direct speech                           Indirect speech

Will                                           Would

Can                                            Could

Must                                          Had to

Shall                                          Should

May                                           Might

Time change
If the reported sentence contains an expression of time, you must change it to fit in with the time of reporting.

For example we need to change words like here and yesterday if they have different meanings at the time and place of reporting.
Today                     + 24 hours - Indirect speech
"Today's lesson is on presentations."     She said yesterday's lesson was on presentations.
Expressions of time if reported on a different day
  • - This (Evening)              That (Evening)
  • - Today                             Yesterday ...
  • - These (Days)                 Those (Days)
  • - Now                               Then
  • - (A Week) Ago              (A Week) Before
  • - Last Weekend               The Weekend Before Last / The Previous Weekend
  • - Here                              There
  • - Next (Week)                 The Following (Week)
  • - Tomorrow                     The Next/Following Day

In addition if you report something that someone said in a different place to where you heard it you must change the place (here) to the place (there).
For example:-
At Work                                                     At Home
"How long have you worked here?"         She asked me how long I'd worked there.

Pronoun Change
In reported speech, the pronoun often changes.

For example:
Me                                       You
"I teach English online."     She said she teaches English online.
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