Practical English Usage
English grammar and vocabulary exercises
Direct and indirect speech
There are two main ways of reporting people’s thoughts, words, beliefs etc.
We can repeat or quote the exact words spoken. This kind of reporting is called direct speech.
Indirect (reported) speech
We can make a speaker's words or thoughts part of our sentence, using conjunctions (e.g. that) and changing pronouns, tenses and other words when necessary. This kind of reporting is called indirect speech or reported speech.
Rules for indirect speech
There are some grammatical differences between direct and indirect speech. These changes are mostly natural and logical, and it is not necessary to learn complicated rules about indirect speech in English.
The conjunction that is often dropped, especially after common reporting verbs (e.g. say, think) in informal speech.
That cannot be dropped after certain verbs (e.g. reply, telegraph, shout).
Sections in this articleDirect and indirect speech
Rules for the change of pronouns
Rules for the change of tenses
Rules for the change of adverbs
Reporting hopes, intentions and promises
Reporting orders, requests and advice
Reporting questions: grammar exercise
Reported speech exercise
Reporting Yes/No questions
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