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Direct and Indirect Speech: Conversations in Writing

Direct and indirect speech are like two ways of presenting conversations in writing; they allow us to report what someone said in different styles. Just as quoting someone directly captures their exact words, indirect speech presents the reported speech in a more narrative form.

Direct Speech:

  1. Quoting Exact Words:

  2. Direct speech involves quoting the exact words of a speaker, using quotation marks to indicate the speech.

    • Mary said, “I will be there at 5 o’clock.”

  3. Reporting with Question and Exclamation Marks:

  4. When directly quoting questions or exclamations, the original punctuation is retained.

    • He asked, “Where are you going?”
    • She exclaimed, “What a beautiful day!”

Indirect Speech:

  1. Reporting the Sense of Speech:

  2. Indirect speech involves reporting the sense of what someone said without using quotation marks.

    • Mary said that she would be there at 5 o’clock.

  3. Changes in Pronouns and Verb Tenses:

  4. When transforming from direct to indirect speech, pronouns, and verb tenses may change according to the reporting context.

    • Direct: He said, “I am going to the store.”
    • Indirect: He said that he was going to the store.

  5. Reporting Verbs:

  6. Reporting verbs such as “said,” “asked,” “told,” “exclaimed,” etc., are used to introduce indirect speech.

    • She told me that she had finished her work.

Punctuation in Indirect Speech:

  1. Changes in Punctuation:

  2. In indirect speech, the quotation marks are not used, and the reporting clause may end with a comma or a full stop.

    • Direct: “I am busy,” she said.
    • Indirect: She said that she was busy.

  3. Reporting Questions:

  4. In indirect speech, reported questions are introduced with reporting verbs and typically use “if” or “whether” instead of the question words.

    • Direct: “Where are you going?” he asked.
    • Indirect: He asked me where I was going.

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