What are the rules of direct and indirect speech

We report the words of a speaker in two ways: We may quote his actual words i.e. Direct Speech (Ram said, I am reading now what he said without quoting his exact words I.e. Indirect Speech, Ram said that he was reading then. In this lesson, you will learn the system of changing from direct to indirect speech.

Rules for changing Direct speech into Indirect speech.

When the reporting or principal verb is in Past tense, all present tenses 0f the Direct are changed into corresponding Past tenses

A simple present becomes a simple past. He said I am unwell, Indirect He said that he was unwell

A present continuous becomes past continuous. He said, my friend is writing letters, He said that his friend was writing letters.

A present perfect becomes a past perfect. He said, I have passed the examination, Indirect, he said that he had passed the examination.simple past in direct speech becomes the past perfect in the Indirect


  • A verb must agree with its subject in Number and Person. The verb is made to agree in number with a noun near it instead of its proper subject. The knowledge of Indian vernaculars is far beyond the uncommon
  • Two or more singular nouns or pronouns joined by and require a plural verb. Knowledge and wisdom have of times no connection, He and I were reading. 3.If the nouns suggest one idea to the mind or refer to the same person or thing, the verb is singular. Time and tide wait for no man, Honour, and glory is his reward, My mentor and counselor has come
  • Words joined to a singular subject by with, as well as, etc are parenthetical. The verb should be put in the singular. Hindi as well as English was taught there, hard work, as well as determination, brings success.
  • Two or more singular subjects are connected by or nor require a singular verb. Our happiness or our sorrow is largely due to our own actions, Neither praise nor blame seems to affect him.
  • when one of the subjects joined by or nor is plural, the verb should be plural. Neither the Chairman nor the directors are present
  • When the subjects joined by or nor are different persons, the verb agrees with the nearer. Either he or I am mistaken, Either he or I am mistaken 8. Either, neither, each, everyone, many a, must be followed by a singular verb Neither of the two men was very strong. Every one of the boys loves to read
  • Two nouns qualified by each or every even though connected by and require a singular verb. Every boy and every girl was given a book of English
  • Some nouns which are plural in form, but singular in meaning, take a singular verb. Some news is true
  • Pains or means take either the singular or the plural verb, but the construction must be consistent. Great pains have been taken, Much pains have been taken.
  • Inthe of income, the word means always takes a plural verb. His means are ample
  • Some nouns which are singular in form, but plural in meaning take a plural verb, According to the present market rate twelve dozen cost one hundred rupees
  • None, though properly singular, commonly takes a plural verb. None are so deaf as those who will not hear.

A committee has issued its report, The committee is divided on one minor point, The committee has appended a note to its (not their) report

  • When the plural noun is a proper name for some single object or some collective unit, it must be followed by a singular verb, The united nations have a big navy,
  • When a plural noun denotes some specific quantity or some amount considered as a whole, the verb is generally singular, fifty minutes is allowed for each candidate, ten kilometers is a long walk

Noun and Pronouns

  • countable nouns like book, table, flower have plural forms and are used with a and an. The uncountable nouns also have plural forms of a verb but without the use of a and a .e,g, he gave me some advice, the scenery here is very good apiece of advice, a piece of work, a bottle of milk
  • The use of possessive(or genetic) case should be confined to names of living beings and personified objects, stereotyped phrases, nouns of space or time denoting an amount of something e.g.Natures law, fortunes favorite, for goodness sake, at his fingers ends, in a years time
  • When two nouns in the possessive case are in apposition the apostrophe withs is added to the last only as This is my facilitators, the adviser\'s office
  • when one noun is qualified by two possessive nouns both must have the possessive sign whose joint possession is indicated the king and journey in India,
  • the complement of the verb to be, when it is expressed by a pronoun, should be in the nominative case. We usually use an objective form. It is me(it is rarely said it is I), It was him
  • The object of a verb or of a preposition, when it is a pronoun, should be in an objective form as There is no difference between you and me, let you and me(not I) do it
  • A pronoun directly after that or as is usually in the objective case unless there is a verb after it. If a verb follows it, the nominative form is used. He is taller than me, I am as tall as he is
  • A pronoun must agree with its antecedent in person number and gender all learners must complete their homework, every learner must do his own work
  • If referring to anybody, everybody, everyone, anyone, each etc.the pronoun of the masculine or the feminine gender is used according to the context as I shall be glad to help every one of my students in his studies, Anybody can do it if he tries
  • At present anybody, everyone etc.are often followed by a plural pronoun. Anybody can do it if they try
  • The indefinite pronoun one should be used throughout if used at all. One can not be too careful of ones (not he) good name, one must use one\'s best efforts if one wishes to success
  • None is construed in singular or plural as the sense may require. Have you done your homework? there was none in the copy. none of these words are now used
  • Anyone should be used when more than two persons or things are spoken of. He was taller than any one of his friends
  • Each, either and neither are distributive pronouns calling attention to the individuals forming a collection and must accordingly be followed by a verb in the singular. Each of the learners has(not have) done well, either of the roads leads to the success
  • Be careful to use who(nominative) and whom(objective) correctly. I was the boy who(not whom) they thought was the winner, whom do you wish to see, who did you meet, who are you going with
  • When the subject of a verb is relative pronoun care be taken to see that the verb agrees in number and person with the antecedent of the relative as He is one of the cleverest boys that have passed through the school. This is one of his best answers that is (not are)worth reading. Here that is one is antecedent.
  • A definite word is the antecedent of the relative pronoun which makes the sentences easier to understand than is possible otherwise as He fell heavily, and this caused him great pain.
  • And which, but which-The relatives fulfills the purpose of conjunction. Hence no conjunction should be placed before it except to join together two relative clauses referring to the same antecedent as He possessed notes which was excellent and which had won him good marks
  • Some times a pronoun is inserted where it is not required as The applicant being a hoseholder, he(not required) is entitled to vote
  • A noun is a pronoun in the possessive case should not be used as the antecedent to a relative pronoun as Do not forget the enthusiasm who brought this movement so far
  • When the relative pronoun is sometimes wrongly omitted when it is the subject of the clause as he has an intelligence that would carry him through anything
  • When the antecedent is the same, the consequent should be as or that as I played with the same bat that you did
  • Pronouns of the third person should not be used as antecedents to who and that
  • Avoid the use of the same as a substitute for the personal pronoun as when you have examined these patterns please return them(not same) to us.


  • The adjective is correctly used with a verb when some quality of the subject, rather than of the action of the verb as It tastes sour, He feels happy
  • The plural forms of these and those are often used with the singular nouns kind and sort as things of this kind
  • The words superior, inferior, senior, junior, prior, anterior, and posterior take to instead of then as He is senior to me, Hari is inferior to Ram in intelligence
  • In comparing two things or classes of things the comparatives should be used as of the two suggestions, the former is the better, He is taller than the two 
  • Double comparatives and superlatives are to be avoided as It was the unkindest cut of all
  • A very common form of error is exemplified as The population of Calcutta is greater than that of any city in India
  • of any is often used incorrectly as He has the lightest touch of any musician. It should be He has a lighter touch than any other musician.
  • Preferable has the force of a comparative and is followed by to as he has a formula which he thinks preferable to that of any other formula
  • Less is used before uncountable nouns while fewer is used before plural nouns fewer than forty students were qualified in the test.
  • Words like unique, ideal, perfect, complete, universal, entire, extreme, chief, square, round do not admit comparison as most unique is wrong
  • Older and oldest may be said either of the person or of the things, while elder and eldest apply to the persons only
  • Two firsts are inappropriate. It should be the first two
  • Few and a few have different meanings. Few are negative and equivalent to not many, hardly any while a few are positive and equivalent to some. Similarly is the case of little and a little
  • Latter is used when there are two only and last is used when there are more than two
  • Verbal(pertaining to words) is often used for oral(means delivered).
  • Do not say our mutual friend, say our common friend


  • The subject of the sentence should not be left without a verb as He who has suffered most in the cause, let him speak(incorrect), He who has suffered most in the cause should speak
  • A verb should agree with its subject and not with the complements The details are a matter of future consideration.
  • In a compound sentence a single can be made to do the duty for two subjects, only when the form of the verb is such as to permit of it as not a sound was heard, not a procession
  • Two auxiliaries can be used with one principal Verb, only when the form of a principal verb is appropriate to both the auxiliaries as I never have shirked my responsibilities and never will.
  • when there is one auxiliary to two principal verbs, it should such that it may be correctly associated with both as ten boys have been qualified and four given supplementary.
  • Carefully distinguish between the verb lay and lie. The lay is transitive and is always followed by an objective and verb lie is intransitive and cannot have an object. I laid the book on the table, Let me lie here.
  • An infinitive should be in the present tense unless it represents action prior to that of the governing verb as I should have liked to go(not to have gone) or He seems to have enjoyed his studies at the institution.
  • A common blunder is to leave the participle without proper agreement or with no agreement at all as Sitting in the classroom, he was reading grammar.
  • Can construct-considering his abilities he should have done better, taking everything into consideration, his lot is a happier one
  • A present participle should not be used to express an action which is not contemporaneous with the action of the principal verb as he sailed for Delhi on Sunday and arrived there on the night of Sunday
  • The verb make is followed by noun/pronoun+plain infinitive =infinitive without too. Many learners wrongly use it with to-infinitive as He made the students do the whole work(not to do the whole work)
  • When used in passive make is followed by the to infinitive as the boy was made to do the whole work
  • verbs like enjoy, avoid, miss, postpone, suggest be not used with a to-infinitive. Use them with a gerund. He enjoys reading(not to read)
  • correct wrong Right

She told she wouldnt come She said she would not come I want that you should meet him I want you to meet him

I suggest you apply for the post I suggest that you (should) apply for the post

We discussed the matter yesterday He described the rule He described the rule

I have ordered three copies of the book She requested for my help She requested my help.


  • Adverbs should be so placed in a sentence to make it quite clear which words they are intended to modify. They should come next to the word they modify as He had got almost to the top when the rope broke
  • Only be placed immediately before the word it is intended to modify as I worked only two sums
  • The case should be taken, when using correlative conjunctions, such as either-or, neither nor not only but also that they are followed by the same parts of speech as He lost not only his ticket but also the luggage
  • Neither is followed by nor not by or. He washed neither his hands nor his face

Order of words

  • A subject usually comes before the verb
  • The object usually comes after the verb
    • When there is an indirect object and also a direct object, the indirect object precedes the direct
  • When the adjective is used attributively it comes before the noun which it should qualify
  • When an adjective is used predictively it comes after the noun
    • The adverb is generally placed close to the word which it modifies
    • All qualifying clauses are placed as close as possible to the words which they qualify
  • The normal order of words in a sentence is sometimes altered for emphasis
  • It is essential that all qualifying words, phrases, and clauses should be placed as near as possible to the words to which they refer to avoid the faulty arrangement