direct and indirect speech

Sometimes we want to directly quote a speaker, while other times we want to translate their original speech into our own words. In this lesson, they will learn about the differences between direct and indirect speech and explore in more detail what each of these terms means and how they apply to everyday life.

Direct speechIndirect speech
DefinitionDirect speech is a description of what someone may have said using the actual words of the speakerIndirect speech refers to what a person said but using their own words to explain it
SynonymousSpeech quotedIndirect style
Point of viewThe rapporteurThe listener
When is it usedWhen we have to repeat the exact words that a person saidWhen we use our own words to explain what a person said
Use of quotation marksQuotes are usedNo quotes are used
ExamplesHe said, “I won’t get home on time.”He said he wouldn’t get home on time

What is direct speech

Direct speech can be used in virtually all verb tenses, such as to describe something in the present tense , to express something that is happening in the moment, or to make it feel as if it is happening in the moment. For example: While she is talking on the phone, he says, “I will not speak to you again.”

You can also use direct speech in past and future tenses . Often you will come across something that has already happened such as: He told you, “I’ll take the last train home” (most written forms will use direct speech this way).

Direct speech can also be used in the future tense to create a feeling of anticipation or expectation . It can also be used to express something you plan to say to someone. While you may not find these in formal or professional speeches, you will likely see them in creative forms of writing, such as a story or novel. For example: Before I go, I will tell you, “I will never come back . 

Direct speech is not always a description of what someone may have said . You can also quote from other texts in a similar way, using quotation marks before and after the quote. Here, instead of using the verb ‘say’, you may want to use a different verb, such as ‘write’ or ‘describe’.

What is indirect speech

Indirect speech is used to inform what someone may have said , so it is always used in the past tense . Instead of using quotation marks, in this type of speech an introduction is made mentioning the person who made the statement (El, ella, Juan, me, le, etc.). For example: She said she was not hungry.

You can use different verbs to express what is being reported, although “said” is used quite often. You may also want to use “told” to describe something that has been said to you. For example: He told me that he did not have enough money.

So the key difference between direct and indirect speech is that with direct speech the exact words are quoted, but in indirect speech your own words are used . Direct speech is quite simple to use and understand as it involves simply repeating what was said and there is not much to get confused about with grammar.

Differences between direct and indirect speech

Both terms describe a way of telling something that may have been said , but there is a subtle difference between them. Direct speech describes when something is repeated exactly as it was , usually between a pair of quotation marks. For example: She told me: “I will be home at 10 pm”

Indirect speech will continue to share the same information, but instead of expressing someone’s comments or speech by repeating them and using the same words, it involves reporting or describing what was said in the person’s own words as the person who is telling it. One obvious difference is that with indirect speech, you will not use quotation marks. For example: He told me that he would be home at 10 at night.

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