Difference between Direct and Indirect Speech

Direct and indirect speech can be a source of confusion for English learners. In a direct speech, we use inverted commas to highlight the exact words of the speaker while reporting them. It repeats, or quotes, the exact words were spoken. When we use direct speech in writing, we place the words spoken between quotation marks (” “) and there is no change in these words.

On the other hand, in an indirect speech, as its name suggests, it involves reporting what a person said, without exactly quoting them.  is usually used to talk about the past, so we normally change the tense of the words spoken. We use reporting verbs like ‘say’, ‘tell’, ‘ask’, and we may use the word ‘that’ to introduce the reported words. So, in an indirect speech, we do not use inverted commas to highlight the original statement of the speaker; instead, it is just reported using their own words. Direct Speech is from the speaker’s standpoint, whereas indirect speech is from the listener’s standpoint. The inverted comma is used in direct speech, but not in indirect speech.

Look at the following sentences:

  • Direct Speech: She says, “I am a little bit nervous.”
  • Indirect Speech: She says that she is a little bit nervous.

In the first sentence, the reporter conveys the message of the girl using her actual words (e.g., “I am a little bit nervous.”) In the second sentence, the reporter conveys her message but in his own words without any change in the meaning. Thus, both direct and indirect speeches are two different ways of reporting a statement of a person.

Difference between Direct and Indirect Speech

Direct Speech

  • Meaning Direct speech implies a direct discourse, that uses the actual words of the speaker to report it. It is when we use the exact rendition of the words of the speaker.
  • When a person gives a written or spoken account of the speech, by repeating the exact words of the speaker, then this is known as Direct Speech.
  • Direct Speech refers to the literal repetition of the words spoken by someone, using a quotative frame.
  • It uses inverted commas to highlight the original statement of the speaker, which is supported by a signal phrase or say dialogue guide.
  • Direct Speech is also called a quoted speech, as it uses the exact words of the speaker.

Indirect Speech

  • Indirect speech refers to indirect discourse that delineates what a person said, in their own words. In an indirect speech own words are used to report the speaker’s statement.
  • Indirect Speech or otherwise called reported speech is one in which a person reports on what someone else said or wrote to him, not using the actual words.
  • Indirect speech is one that reports something said or written by another person, without making the use of exact words.
  • The indirect speech stresses on the content, i.e. what someone stated, instead of the words that are used for stating it.
  • It is termed as reported speech, as it narrates what is said by the speaker.