Direct Speech refers to the actual words that come out of the mouth of the speaker without any alteration whatsoever. In writing, the direct speech is marked off by quotation marks. E.g. “I am not a fool, ” he retorted.

Indirect speech, on the other hand, refers to the new form the direct speech assumes when it is reported by someone else to another person. It is therefore sometimes known as reported speech. This new form is the result of the changes that take place during the conversion. The changes have the effect of making the sense of the original speech remote to reflect the passage of time. It is usually introduced by main clauses or speech tags such as: He said/She retorted/ They agreed/etc. (E.g. He said/retorted that he was not a fool.)




  1. Direct speech is the verbatim quotation of a speaker’s words. The quoted speech may stay alone (e.g ., “Get out of here. “) where its introductory clause (e.g. “He said … “) is understood, or it may be preceded or followed by the introductory clause, which indicates the speaker and the reporting verb.
  2. There is always a comma between the introductory clause and the quoted speech; eg. (a) John said, “Come here now. ” (b) “Come here now, ” John said.
  3. Direct speech always begins with a quotation mark and a capital letter. E.g. She said, “Let’s go.
  4. A direct speech is often enclosed in inverted commas or quotation marks.
  5. Vocatives such as “Sir”, “Mr. Chairman.”, etc. appear in direct speech.
  6. There is never any conjunction between the introductory clause and the quoted clause in the direct speech.
  7. In direct speech, the comma which usually separates the introductory clause from the quoted clause comes after the reporting verb if the introductory clause precedes the direct speech, or inside the closing quotation marks if the introductory clause comes after the direct speech. This rule applies to other punctuation marks, especially the terminals (.?!) used in direct speech.



  1. But indirect speech (otherwise known as “the Reported Speech”) is the reporting of only the substance of a speaker’s speech to a third person. Usually, the introductory clause is not omitted, for the reported speech (substance) cannot stand alone as it is a subordinate clause, depending on the introductory clause.
  2. There is always a subordinating conjunction (e.g. that, whether, or if) between the introductory clause and the indirect/reported speech. e.g. He said that they would go.
  3. The reported substance in indirect speech begins with a small letter and has no opening quotation mark. E.g. She said that we should go with her.
  4. But indirect speech requires no quotation marks or inverted commas whatsoever.
  5. Vocatives (i.e. direct addresses) do not appear in indirect speech.
  6. There is never a comma between the introductory clause and the reported speech in indirect speech.
  7. Since no comma is needed here between the main and the dependent clauses, comma ( or other punctuation mark(s) position/placement does not apply here; only a period is required at the end of an indirect speech.
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