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Rules Of Direct And Indirect For Competitive Exams

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  • Last Updated : 06 Jul, 2022

Narration is a very important topic in the English section for any govt. exam. Hence, the topic needs to be understood very precisely.  It is one of those topics of English grammar which are essential for not only passing an exam but also for keeping up the day-to-day conversation at your workplace.

Direct & Indirect Speech 

When anything is repeated exactly as it was – usually between two inverted commas – it is referred to as direct speech. The indirect speech will still convey the same information, but instead of simply repeating someone’s words or speech, it will report or describe what was said without the use of inverted commas.
There are some common rules to changing the mode of speech. Other rules vary depending on the types of sentences i.e. Assertive, Interrogative, Imperative, Optative and Exclamatory. In this article, we will discuss all the rules related to Direct and Indirect Speech of Assertive, Interrogative, and Imperative sentences.

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 same.

Now, let’s have a look at the rules which are specific to the sentences:

1. Assertive sentence:

The inverted commas (“ “) used in Direct Narration is removed in Indirect Narration and “that” conjunction is used.
Says to/said to is converted into tells/told in indirect speech if they are followed by an object. If not, they would remain the same in indirect speech.


Direct: Ram said, “I am ill”
Indirect: Ram said that he was ill.

Direct: He said, “I must go at once.”

Indirect: He said that he had to go at once.

Direct: Raj said to Sheela, “The Sun rises in the east”.

Indirect: Raj told Sheela that the Sun rises in the east.

Direct: She said, “My uncle came yesterday.”

Indirect: She said that her uncle had come the previous day.

Direct: Nusrat says, “I am never late”

Indirect: Nusrat says that she is never late.

2. Interrogative sentences

Say/Said is changed to ask/asked/wonder/wondered/enquire of/enquired of etc as per the sense of the sentence.  If the reported speech is in YES/NO question form then if/whether is used before reported speech.  If the reported speech is in the form of WH-Question (who/ what/ why/ how/ where/ when/ which etc), no conjunction is used before the question word. The question word itself works as conjunction.

The reported verb is made assertive; i.e. it is kept in the order of subject + verb.
The sign of interrogation (?) is removed and full stop is used.


Direct: Rahul said to his teacher, “What is the way to solve the question?”

Indirect: Rahul asked his teacher what the way to solve the question was.

Direct: The stranger said to me, “where do you live?”

Indirect: The stranger asked me where I lived.

Direct: “Where were you last evening?” said the lady to her maid.

Indirect: The lady asked her maid where she had been the previous evening.

Direct: The teacher said to me, “have you submitted your project?”

Indirect: The teacher asked me whether I had submitted my project.

Direct: The doctor said the patient, “Are you feeling better today?”

Indirect: The doctor asked the patient if he was feeling better that day.

3. Imperative sentences:

In imperative sentences, order, request, advice, or negative command is given. In negative command, the reported speech starts with Do not or Don’t.

Say/said to is converted into order/ ordered/ command/ commanded/ request/ requested/ urge/ urged/ advise/ advised/ ask/ asked/ tell/ told/ suggest/ suggested as per the sense of the sentence and to is used before the main verb.

For negative commands, inverted commas are removed and not + to + verb (first form) is used. For example, “do not go” is converted into “not to go”.
The words like kindly, and please are removed.


Direct: Doshi said to his wife, “Please select one of these necklaces.”

Indirect: Doshi requested his wife to select one of those necklaces.

Direct: “Wait here till I return”, she told them.

Indirect: She ordered them to wait there till she returned.

Direct: Father said, “do not get dry in the rain”.

Indirect: Father advised not to get dry in the rain.

Direct: My mother said, “Blink often if your eyes are dry.”

Indirect: My mother advised me to blink often if my eyes were dry.

Direct: The officer said, “March on, don’t stop unless told!”

Indirect: The officer commanded to march on and not to stop unless told.

These are certain rules that you need to follow & remember for the questions of Direct & Indirect speech. 


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