Indirect speech is used to refer to a person’s words without quoting him or her exactly. It is also referred to as indirect quotation or reported speech. The original spoken words are not repeated. The exact meaning is given without repeating the speaker’s words.


Direct speech: The governor said, “Creating new jobs will be my first priority”

Indirect speech: The governor said that creating new jobs would be his first priority.

Several changes do occur when changing a sentence from direct to indirect speech


Quotation marks

Quotation marks are left out when writing a sentence in direct speech.


Direct: Hemedi announced, “My aunt works in a biscuit factory”

Indirect: Hemedi announced that his aunt worked in a biscuit factory.

  1. Tense

The tense of a verb in the direct sentence will change in indirect speech




  1. Simple present changes to past simple

Direct: John said, “She goes to school early”

Indirect: John said that she went to school early.

  1. Simple past changes to past perfect

Direct: John said, “She went to school early”

Indirect: John said that she had gone to school early.

  1. Present progressive changes to past progressive

Direct: “The baby is eating a banana,” the nurse said.

Indirect: The nurse said that the baby was eating a banana.

  1. Present perfect changes to past perfect

Direct: “South Sudan has become a republic,” the new president declared.

Indirect: The new president declared that South Sudan had become a republic

  1. Past progressive changes to past perfect progressive

Direct: “I was dreaming when the fire started,” the boy said.

Indirect: The boy said the he had been dreaming when the fire started.

  1. Future simple changes to modal

Direct: “I will visit you tomorrow,” my desk mate said.

Indirect: My desk mate said the he would visit me the following day.

  1. May changes to might

Direct:  I may also visit you too,” I replied.

Indirect: I replied that I might also visit him too.

Sometimes the verb in indirect speech does not change tense.

This occurs in sentences that are universal truths

Direct: Our Geography teacher said “The earth rotates round the sun”

Indirect: Our Geography teacher said that the earth rotates round the sun

Words referring to place also change




Direct: “I live here,” retorted the old man.

Indirect: The old man retorted that he lived there

Direct: “This place stinks,” noted the boy.

Indirect: The boy noted that that place stunk.

Words referring to time also change



Direct: “I will visit you tomorrow,” he shouted.

Indirect: He shouted that he would visit me the following/next day

Direct: “He died last year,” the policeman reported.

Indirect: The policeman reported that he had dies the previous year/ the year before.

Demonstrative pronouns also change:



Direct: “This book is mine,” Jane claimed.

Indirect: Jane claimed that that book was hers.

Direct: “These are hard times,” observed the president.

Indirect: The president observed that those were hard times.

Pronouns also change when rewriting a sentence from direct to indirect speech.


Direct: “My car is better than yours,” the teacher bragged.

Indirect: The teacher bragged that his/her car was better that his/hers/theirs.


Exercise 7

Change the following sentences from Direct to Indirect speech.

  1. “Did you see the fire at the West gate Mall?” asked Joel.
  2. Njagi said, “Ten fire-engines arrived in fifteen minutes.”
  3. Patty exclaimed, “It destroyed an entire block of building!”
  4. “One fire fighter was slightly injured,” said Joel.
  5. Njagi said, “Several people working in the building escaped unhurt.”
  6. “Tell me what will happen to them,” said Patty.
  7. “Other people are giving them food and clothes,” replied Joel.
  8. Njagi added,” They are resting in the school for now.

” “These terrorists will finish us!” exclaimed Patty.

  1. “Don’t worry,” Joels said “They will be apprehended tomorrow”.



See also:






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