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Direct & Indirect Speech -
Grammar

NOTE: We will use the verb 'said' in all examples. This is so we concentrate on the grammar. More verbs (tell, shouted, asked, etc.) will be used in the practice.

Direct Speech

How to form direct speech

This is used to say exactly what someone says. We show direct speech using a particular grammatical structure.

Start with a pair of inverted commas - "

Write exactly what the person says as a full sentence - "__________________

Add a piece of a punctuation - "__________________

Speech punctuation.png

Close with a pair of inverted commas "__________________         "

Speech punctuation.png

Steps 1 & 2

In step 1, you start with a pair of inverted commas. They look like this: "

In step 2, you must write exactly what the person says like it is a sentence.

Step 3

In step 3 you need to choose which punctuation to end the speech with: full stop (.), comma (,), exclamation mark (!) or question mark (?). 

  • Exclamation marks (!) are used if the person is saying something loudly or very directly. 

  • Questions marks (?) are used if the sentence the person says is a question.

  • A full stop is used if it is the end of the whole sentence - including the 'said' part. 

  • A comma is used if none of the others are true.

Examples of Step 3 punctuation

"Stay away from the area!" said the policeman. - this is an exclamation mark because the policeman is saying it loudly.

 

She said, "what time does the bus leave?" - this is a question so a question mark ends the sentence.

My daughter said "I took the last biscuit." - the full stop is used here because it's the end of the sentence.

"I took the last biscuit," said my daughter. - the comma is used here because it does not end the sentence.

Practice - Step 3 punctuation
  • The waitress said, "Would you like to seen the menu?" 

Answer

The person is asking a question and so the question mark ends the sentence.

  • "I haven't read this book," said Tom.

Answer

The speech does not end the sentence, it is not a question or being exclaimed so a comma is used.

  • My dad said, "Oh no! The dinner is burning!" 

Answer

This is being exclaimed (loudly or with importance) so an exclamation mark is used.

  • Rebecca said, "School starts at 8:45 so should leave now." 

Answer

The speech ends the sentence so we use a full stop.

Step 4

In step 4, close the speech with a pair of inverted commas (").

Indirect speech

How to form indirect speech

Indirect speech is used when the speaker says what someone said. It is also called reported speech.

 

Let's look at the difference between direct and indirect speech. 

Direct Speech

My favourite colour is blue.

She said, "My favourite colour is blue."

Past

Now

Future

The person says exactly what the person in the past said.

Indirect Speech

My favourite colour is blue.

She said her favourite colour was blue.

Past

Now

Future

Direct Speech vs Indirect Speech

Direct Speech - "My favourite colour is blue."

Indirect Speech - Her favourite colour was blue.

How you change from direct to indirect speech?

There are two main changes:

  • Change the pronoun if it is unclear

  • Change the verb to match the situation

Examples
Present tense

I drink coffee every morning.

He said he drinks coffee every morning.

Past

Now

Future

I drink coffee every morning. - this is an action that happens every day, so the present tense is used.

He said he drinks coffee every morning. - the pronoun has been changed to reflect who said it and the verb is in the present tense because the original action happens every day.

Past tense

I had pizza for dinner.