Narration in English Grammar

There are two kinds of speech. Firstly, reporting speech, it means that a person is saying or telling something by himself. Secondly, reported speech. It means that a dialogue said by some other person is being reported by someone else using own words.

A reporting speech is also called direct speech, whereas the reported speech is also called an indirect speech.

There are some rules to follow, in order to change direct speech to indirect considering the tense, pronoun, and words.



Pronouns change according to the speaker, Consider the following examples:

Direct: I said “Hand me your assignments”

Indirect: I asked to hand me your assignments.

Direct: “We offer a 20% discount to the premium customer”, said the salesman.

Indirect: The salesman told us that they offer a 20% discount to the premium customer.


Types of Sentences:

Part a: Interrogative speech

In case of a question, the reported speech will start from the “whether/if”


Direct: Sam asked, “Are you doing well?”

Indirect: Sam asked me if I was okay.

Direct: “Are you coming to the party tonight?” Enquired David.

Indirect: David asked me whether I was going to the party at night.


Questions like who, when, how, what, etc.


Direct: Alex asked, “Who is willing to join me for the dinner?”

Indirect: Alex asked who was willing to join him for the dinner.

Direct: The interviewer said, “How do you travel to the office?”

Indirect: The interviewer asked how I traveled to the office.


Part b: Statement sentences

Statements using “that” and the verbs told (followed by an object) and said (following an object).

Direct: Jason said, “I like to eat burgers”.

Indirect: Jason said that he liked to eat burgers.

Direct: The news reporter said “There are chances of some rain”

Indirect: The news reporter reported that there were chances of some rain.


Part c: Imperative Sentences

The word “to” will be used to join the clauses, the reported verb will be modified depending upon the mood of the sentence. For instance:

Direct:  Students said “Please postpone the quiz”

Indirect: Students request to postpone the quiz.

Direct: The residents said “You should stay away from the haunted house”

Indirect: The residents warned them to stay away from the haunted house.


Part d: Exclamatory Sentences

When changing exclamatory sentences to indirect speech, we replaced the interjections with appropriate words and adding “that” to the word. In addition to that words like (what, when, how, etc.) are replaced by “very” with an adjective in reported speech.

Direct: Susan said “Oh God! I ruined my painting”

Indirect: Susan exclaimed in disappointment that she ruined the painting.

Direct: Terry said “Yay! I passed my admission test”

Indirect: Terry exclaimed in joy that he had passed his admission test.



Usually, the present tense is converted into past tense while converting direct speech to indirect.

Simple present to past tense:

Direct: Eric said “I am eating dinner”

Indirect: Eric told that I was eating dinner.

Direct: Julian said “This is the best painting I have ever watched”

Indirect: Julian said that this was the best painting he had ever watched.


Present continuous to past continuous:

Direct: The child said “It is raining outside”

Indirect: The child informed that it was raining outside.


Present perfect to past perfect tense:

Direct: Driver said, “I have been driving around the city”

Indirect: Driver said that I had driven around the city.

Direct: Jacob told, “I have informed the police about the robbery”

Indirect: Jacob told that he had informed the police about the robbery.


Present perfect continuous to past perfect continuous:

Direct: Commentator said “Role of the captain have been crucial”

Indirect: Commentator said that the role of the captain had been crucial.


Simple Past to Past Perfect:

Direct: Jack said, “I played for my club”

Indirect: Jack said that he had played for his club.

Direct: Susan said “I bought this watch”

Indirect: Susan said that he had watched this bought.


Past Continuous to Past Perfect Continuous:

Direct: The neighbor said “The postman was dropping your letters in our mailbox”

Indirect: The neighbor said that the postman had been dropping your letters in our mailbox.

Direct: Gary said “I was waiting for you to arrive”

Indirect: Garry said that he was waiting for him to arrive.


Past perfect tense remains the same:

Direct: Minister said “The government had tried to raise the tax net”

Indirect: Minister said that the government had tried to raise the tax net.


Future Tense to Conditional:

Direct: Jonathan said “He will be arriving at 3 pm”

Indirect: Jonathan said that he would be arriving at 3 pm.

Direct: He said, “I will available on Saturday”

Indirect: He said that he would be available on Saturday.



Such, will, can, etc. are modal verbs that change while converting direct to indirect speech.


‘Shall’ becomes ‘should’ in case of a question.

Direct: James said, “Shall I go there already?”

Indirect: James asked if he should go there already.

Direct: Employee said “I shall come to the office early”

Indirect: Employee said that he would be coming to the office early


Similarly, Could, should, would, etc. do not change.


Direct: Mr. Adam said “I would not work there anymore”

Indirect: Mr. Adam said he would not work there anymore.


Adverbs and Demonstratives:

When a speech is reported, there is a change in the place, time and person who is speaking so the adverbs and demonstratives change in indirect speech.

Direct Indirect
Now Then
Today That day
Tonight That night
Yesterday The day after
This That
Come Go
Tomorrow Next day



Direct: Julie said, “There will be a party at my place tonight”.

Indirect: Julie said that there will be a party at her place that night.

Direct: The class representative said “There is no class tomorrow”

Indirect: The class representative informed that there will be no class the next day.