Direct And Indirect Speech

This page was first published on the 8th of November, 2016 and last updated on the 8th of November, 2016 by Patrick Carpen.

Note: Direct speech is also called “quoted speech” and indirect speech is also called “reported speech”.

Sometimes in writing, the need arises to convey the spoken words of the characters in our story. We have two options when doing this. We can use “direct speech” or we can use “indirect speech” when conveying the words of a speaker in a story. Read the paragraph below.

Johnny came home late one afternoon. His mother asked him why he came so late. Johnny explained that he was out playing cricket with Joel and Adam. He explained that he tried to leave for four-o-clock, but both Joel and Adam insisted that he stayed for one last game. His mother seemed very upset and warned him not to make the same mistake again.

The above paragraph conveys the spoken words of the characters through “reported speech” or “indirect speech”. Indirect speech does not give a word-for-word transcription of the speaker’s words, and so we cannot tell what the exact words of the speaker were.

Read the paragraph below, which tells the same story.

Johnny came home late one afternoon. “Why are you so late today Johnny?” his mother asked with a curious look on her face.

Johnny stammered. “I’m so sorry mom, I was out playing cricket with Joel and Adam. When I told them it was time to go home, they insisted that I stay for one last game.”

“Don’t ever let that happen again, Johnny”, his mother warned with a stern look on her face. “You know how important it is to stick to your schedule”.

The above paragraph conveys the spoken words of the characters through “direct speech”.

Direct speech gives the reader a more accurate understanding of the unreeling of words. Direct speech helps the readers understand the linguistic background of the characters. Understanding the linguistic background of the characters can give clues as to the geographical background of the characters. For example, in the above paragraph, we may assume that both Johnny and his mom are likely to be from the United States or Canada, since they speak standard American English.

Direct Speech=Quoted Speech

Direct speech “quotes” the words of the characters “exactly” as they were spoken, and for this reason, it is also called “quoted speech”. Quoted speech causes your writing to come alive.

As you can see in the second paragraph, quoted speech is marked off by “quotation marks”. Use the “double quotation marks” to mark off quoted speech.

Assignment: Write a paragraph containing the quoted speech of two persons of different nationalities. For example, one may be Jamaican and the other American.

Related: Quoted Speech Within Quoted Speech

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