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Common Rules For Direct And Indirect Speech

Last Updated : 22 Aug, 2023
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We have already discussed the rules to change direct speech to indirect of three types of sentences in the first part of this article. In this article, we will discuss the rest of the types of sentences. Let’s revise the common rules of changing the narration first:

Click here to read Part 1

Common Rules

Change of words:

Direct Speech 

Indirect Speech






This day


The Next day


The previous day



Change of Pronouns:

The first person pronoun is changed based on: the subject of reporting speech.
The second person pronoun is changed based on: the object of reporting speech.
The Third-person pronoun remains unchanged in indirect speech.

Change of tense:

There is no need of changing the verb/tense of the reported speech when the reporting verb is in the present or future tense.
When the reporting verb is in the past tense, then the conversion happens according to the following rules:

Direct Speech 

Indirect Speech

Simple Present Tense

Simple Past Tense

Present Continuous Tense

Past Continuous Tense

Present Perfect Tense

Past Perfect Tense

Present Perfect Continuous Tense

Past Perfect Continuous Tense

Simple Past Tense

Past Perfect Tense

Past Continuous Tense

Past Perfect Continuous Tense


Past Perfect Tense and Past Perfect Continuous Tense remain the same in such cases.
Can, Shall, Will, May, Must is converted into Could, Should, Would, Might, and Must respectively.
In the case of the general truths and habits in the reporting speech, the tense remains the same.

Now, let’s discuss the sentence-specific rules of the different types of sentences:

1. Optative sentences

Said is converted into prayed/wished/bade/cursed/thanked etc as per the sense of the sentence and “that” is used as a conjunction. However, “that” is not used in some sentences. 
Reported speech (which has the verb and subject) is now written in the form of (subject + verb); reported speech is made assertive.
If may is hidden, one can use may/might accordingly and the first form of the verb is used with it and the sign of exclamation (!), if given, is removed and a full stop is used.

  • Direct: Mother said, “may God bless you!”
  • Indirect: Mother prayed that God might bless me.
  • Direct: I said to Mr. Sen, “Good Evening!”
  • Indirect: I wished Mr. Sen good evening.
  • Direct: He said to her, “May you succeed!”
  • Indirect: He wished her success.

2. Exclamatory sentences

Said to is changed to exclaimed/exclaimed with joy/exclaimed with sorrow/ exclaimed with grief/ confessed with regret/ shouted with applause/ cried out/ eagerly wished and “that” is used as a conjunction.  Sign of exclamation (!) if given is removed and a full stop is used. If the reported verb has words like “what a” or “how”, then “very” is used in place of them in the indirect speech.

  • Direct: The boxer said, “Hurrah! I have won the knockout match with bonus points.”
Indirect: The boxer exclaimed with joy that he had won the knockout match with bonus points.

  • Direct: Rita said, “what a beautiful picture”.

  • Indirect: Rita exclaimed in wonder that it was a very beautiful picture.

  • Direct: Navanitha said to her friends, “What a scintillating beauty it is !”
Indirect: Navanitha exclaimed to her friends that it was a scintillating beauty.

  • Direct: Sarla said, “Alas! I have failed.”
Indirect: Sarla exclaimed with sorrow that she had failed.

3. Sentences that start with Let

The word “let” is used to propose, suggest or allow something. Below are the rules for changing such sentences in indirect speech.
Say/said to is converted into propose/proposed; suggest/suggested etc as per the sense of the sentence.
If the reporting verb has an object, then it is used with “to” after proposed/suggested and “that” conjunction is used.
“Should + verb (Ist form)” is used after the subject of the reported verb.
In some sentences, “let” is replaced by “might be allowed” in indirect speech, if the sentence refers to asking for permission.

  • Direct: Rehana said, “let’s go to the mall tomorrow”.

  • Indirect: She proposed to go to the mall the next day.

  • Direct:  The student said, “let me come in”.
Indirect: The student said that he might be allowed to come in.

  • Direct: He said to us, “Let us all go out and party as it is my birthday”.
Indirect: He suggested that we should all go out and party as it was his birthday.

These are all the rules that you should remember for Narration. You can bookmark or save this article for future reference. 


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