Indirect Speech
"I can help the children," she said.

Indirect Speech

Indirect speech is reported words spoken by a third person. Unlike direct speech, indirect speech (also called reported speech) uses neither quotation marks nor does it have to be word for word as spoken. Be that as it may, when the actual words spoken by a third person are reported, they have to be reported in a particular way. For example, Sandra said something to Mary last night and now Mary is telling Christine (Mary is reporting what Sandra said): She said that she had been to Paris twice. Here are Sandra's exact words: "I have been to Paris twice." Notice the change of tense: 'have been' changed to 'had been'. Notice also the change of person: 'I' changed to 'she'.

This 11-plus English quiz will give you some practice in changing from direct speech to reported speech. If you haven't already, it would be a good idea to do the quiz on Direct Speech first.

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  1. What does the given extract of direct speech change to in reported speech?
    " ... I will go ..." (male subject)
    For example: "I will go quietly," he said. BECOMES He said he would go quietly
  2. What does the given extract of direct speech change to in reported speech?
    " ... here ..." (reported in a different place)
    For example: "I left it here," he said (in the living room). BECOMES He said that he had left it there (reported while in the dining room). NOTE: If you report something said to you in a different place to where you originally heard it, you must change 'here' to 'there'
  3. What does the given extract of direct speech change to in reported speech?
    " ... I'm going to ..." (female subject)
    For example: "I am going to London," she said. BECOMES She said she was going to London
  4. What does the given extract of direct speech change to in reported speech?
    " ... I can help..." (female subject)
    For example: "I can help the children," she said. BECOMES She said she could help the children
  5. What does the given extract of direct speech change to in reported speech?
    " ... tomorrow ..." (reported on a different day)
    For example: "I'll tell him tomorrow," she said. BECOMES She said that she would tell him the following/next day. NOTE: 1. The use of 'that' is optional, BUT it is never used in questions. 2. 'today' changes to 'yesterday'; 'tomorrow' changes to 'the next/following day'; last weekend' changes to 'the previous weekend'. 3. Obviously, expressions of time can be substituted for each other, e.g. month, year, week, Monday, Tuesday and so on
  6. What does the given extract of direct speech change to in reported speech?
    " ... it is ..."
    For example: "It is cold," he said. BECOMES He said it was very cold
  7. What does the given extract of direct speech change to in reported speech?
    " ... he may ..."
    For example: "He said, "I may be late." BECOMES He said he might be late
  8. What does the given extract of direct speech change to in reported speech?
    " ... a week ago ..." (reported on a different day)
    For example: "I saw him two weeks ago," she said. BECOMES She said that she had seen him two weeks before. NOTE: Expressions of time if reported on a different day have to be changed, e.g. 'now' becomes 'then'
  9. What does the given extract of direct speech change to in reported speech?
    " ... this evening ..." (reported on a different day)
    For example: "Can I see you this evening?" she asked. BECOMES She asked if she could see him that evening. NOTE: The plural of 'these' changes to 'those'
  10. What does the given extract of direct speech change to in reported speech?
    " ... I was looking ..." (male subject)
    For example: "I was looking for my pen," he said. BECOMES He said he had been looking for his pen

Author: Frank Evans

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