What Is The Difference Between Direct And Indirect Speech?
Summary: Difference Between Direct And Indirect Speech
Direct and indirect English speech can confuse new English language learners, so today we explain the differences and make it super easy to remember which is which.
I like quotes, proper quotes that interesting people have said which get recorded accurately. Most of us are familiar with quotes famous people have said. We all have our favourites and you can see a lot of quotations printed on tee-shirts or as inspirational posts on social media.
Today we discuss the English grammar used to talk about things people have said and how to talk about what people said if you were reporting it to someone. There is a difference, and it's quite a small difference, and that causes confusion for students new to English.
So let us learn English grammar the easy way with no books or pens or paper.
Audio Transcript: What Is The Difference Between Direct And Indirect Speech?
Hi there and welcome to this latest podcast from Adept English. One of the things that we look at here at Adept English, is what sorts of searches you do online? What sorts of English grammar questions or English language learning questions do you ask? And one of these which is searched on regularly is this question. ‘What is the difference between direct and indirect speech?’ So in today’s podcast, I’ll answer that question and as usual, I’ll give you some examples.
If you’ve never come across Adept English before, we provide lessons and learning material for English language learners, who want to be able to actually speak English, who want to be able to have conversation in English. But sometimes we teach grammar. We do it without books, without you writing anything, so that you learn in the natural way, using your ears!
What is the difference between direct and indirect speech?
So here goes - What is the difference between direct and indirect speech? Well, first of all, let’s unpack, let’s explain those terms, those words ‘direct’ and ‘indirect’. They’re used in lots of circumstances, so I’ll give you a general, broad meaning and then come to what the terms ‘direct speech’ and ‘indirect speech’ mean. So ‘direct’ and ‘indirect’ are adjectives. They’re describing words, they describe nouns. And they’re opposites – they have opposite meanings to each other. So if something is direct – it means that it goes straight to something, straight to the goal, straight to the point, straight to the end result. Whereas if something is indirect, it doesn’t – it arrives at the end result, but not straight away.
So for example, you might say that a plant in a pot on your windowsill needs ‘direct sunlight’ - so a cactus for example might like direct sunlight, but most plants prefer indirect light, so daylight, but not direct sun. Another use – if I was telling you how to get from one city to another, I might give you a direct route, instructions which took you straight there, whereas an indirect route? You might go to some other places on the way. If a person is ‘direct’ that means that they tend to say what they think. So they might say ‘You’ve lost weight’ or ‘You’ve put weight on’. They don’t always think about how the person might feel. Whereas someone who is more indirect might say ‘Mmm. You’re looking well’ or ‘Oh, you look very slim in that dress’.
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Direct Speech Example
So What is the difference between direct and indirect speech? Well, when we’re talking about direct speech and indirect speech – these are grammatical terms – words to do with English grammar. So ‘direct speech’ means when...it’s when we quote something or someone directly. The verb ‘to quote’, Q-U-O-T-E means to retell exactly what someone else said. So an example of direct speech would the following:-
“I’ve made you a sandwich” said Mum. “It’s got bacon, lettuce and tomato in it!”. “Oh, thankyou”, said Sam. “BLT – my favourite!”.
So you’ll notice here, if you look at the transcript that this uses little punctuation marks called ‘inverted commas’. These are put around the words in the sentence which are the direct quote of what the person said. They look like a little number 66 (“) or a little number 99 (”). So the 66 (“) goes at the beginning and the 99 (”) goes at the end. So in that example I’ve just given you, the words which were actually spoken were “I’ve made you a sandwich. It’s got bacon, lettuce and tomato in it.” and then “Oh, thankyou. BLT – my favourite”. So that’s what you’d hear, if you were in the room with the people speaking. So direct speech is where you’re quoting the person direct and using these little 66 and 99 marks. These 66 (“) and 99 (”) punctuation marks have different names. You can call them ‘speech marks’, ‘quotation marks’ or ‘inverted commas’. It’s all the same thing.
Indirect Speech Example
So What is the difference between direct and indirect speech? Well, what about indirect speech? Well if you take that same sentence, there are various ways in which you could make it indirect. You’d be reporting it. It might sound like this:-
Mum told Sam that she’d made him a sandwich with bacon, lettuce and tomato. Sam thanked her and replied that BLT was his favourite.
So this is indirect speech. You can also call it ‘reported speech’. So it’s as though you are telling it as a report. So in summary direct speech uses 66s (“) and 99s (”) and quotes of what was said directly. And indirect speech just reports it. It doesn’t quote directly.
Test Yourself on direct and indirect speech
So here are some sentences to test yourself on. Listen to these and see if you can work out whether it’s direct speech or indirect speech.
1) “I’m going to town today” said David. “I’ve got to get some clothes for my interview.”
2) Sarah told her son that he was moving school and he complained to her that this was a bad idea.
3) When the teacher heard that her student was ill, she told the class that she was going to visit him.
4) “What time is it?” asked the tall man. “It’s three o’clock”, said the woman in the blue dress.
5) He replied with a smile “Don’t worry, I’ll help you clean the house”.
6) She asked how many cars he had and he told her that he owned six cars.
If you want the answers to this test, go to the transcript on our website at adeptenglish.com and have a look at those sentences. You’ll be able to tell whether they’re direct or indirect speech by whether or not the 66s (“) and 99s (”) in them. If they’ve got quotation marks, they’re direct and if they haven’t, they’re indirect.
Anyway, I hope that answers your question ‘What is the difference between direct and indirect speech’. Enough for now. Have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.
PS: “Never, never, never give up.” » Winston Churchill
So when you next see an inspirational quote on social media like “If you dream it, you can do it.” » Walt Disney and you see the quotes you can assume Walt Disney said those words and they are being quoted directly.
If the speech does not have quotes, and it is talking about people speaking, then you can assume this is indirect speech. Simple no?
If you still don’t understand, don’t worry never give up! Just listen to the audio several times and let the words being used sink in. You will learn a lot more English than you realise.
This is the beauty of the Adept English listen & learning system, you're getting much more than a simple lesson on grammar every time you listen to the audio lesson.