1. What is Narration and What is Change of Narration

When one person says something, and another person reports or reproduces what is said, this report or reproduction is technically called Narration in English Grammar.
The speech may be reported in two ways: (1) by reproducing the words used exactly in the manner in which they were used by the speaker; or (2) by reproducing the words used in an altered form of speech:


(1) Coco said, “Mishu is a clever boy”
(2) Coco said that Mishu was a clever boy.


The form in (1) is called the Direct Form, and that in (2) is called the Indirect Form of Narration.
The form in (1) or the Direct Form has been changed into (2) or the Indirect Form by a process which is called the Change of Narration.

2. What are Reporting Verb and Reported Speech

In the given example Coco said, “Mishu is a clever boy.”

Coco said – is called Reporting Verb; &

Mishu is a clever boy – is called Reported Speech

3. How the tense is changed

The main principles to be taken care of in the conversion of a Reported Speech

(1) Observing the sequence of the Tense

(2) Changing Persons

(3) Changing the orders of words

If the Reporting Verb is in Past Tense

If the reporting verb is in past tense then there will be some changes to the tense of reported speech in indirect speech.

If the Reporting Verb is in Present Tense

If the reporting verb is in present tense or future tense then there will be no change to the tense of the reported speech.

  • Coco says, “I am clever.”
  • Coco says that she is clever.
  • Mishu will say, “I will be clever as well.”
  • Mishu will say that he will be clever as well.

In the case of Universal Truth or Regular Habit

If the reported speech speaks of universal truth or a regular habit then also there will be no changes to the tense of the reported speech.

  • He said, “The sun rises in the east.”
  • He said that the sun rises in the east.
  • My father said, “God is All powerful.”
  • My father said that God is All powerful.
  • The saint said, “The Hindus burn their dead.”
  • The saint said that the Hindus burn their dead.
  • She said, “Fish do not like cats.”
  • She said that fish do not like cats.
  • The teacher said, “Netaji was born in Odisha.”
  • The teacher said that Netaji was born in Odisha.

If the Reporting Verb is in Past Tense

If the reporting verb is in past tense then there will be some changes to some words of reported speech in indirect speech.

4. How Assertive Sentences are changed

  1. ‘that’ is used as linker.
  2. ‘say’, ‘say to’, ‘tell’ are used as reporting verb. ( He says; He tells ; He tells me; He says to me )
  • She told me, “I have been doing my homework since morning.”
    She told me / said to me that she had been doing her homework since morning.
  • He has told me, “I am going to Delhi tomorrow.”
    He has told me that he is going to Delhi the next day.
  • If you ask him he will say, “I am ill so I will not go with you.”
    If you ask him he will say that he is ill so he will not go with you.
  • She is said to her friend, “I love to go through English novels”
    She told her friends that she loves to go through English novels.
  • The teacher said to the boy, “Black will take no other hue.”
    The teacher told the boy that black will take no other hue.

5. How Interrogative Sentences are changed

  1. ‘that’ is not used as linker.
  2. ‘ask’, ‘enquire’, ‘want to know’ are used as reporting verb.
  3. If the reported speech begins with Wh- word then in indirect speech the reported speech will begin with that Wh- word.
  4. If the reported speech begins with an auxiliary verb then in indirect speech the reported speech will begin with ‘If’ or ‘Whether’
  5. After changing in indirect speech the construction of the sentence will be as same as assertive sentence and full stop ‘.’ should be used.

He told me, “What are you doing?”
He asked me what I was doing.

  • He told me, “Are you reading English?”
    He asked me if I was reading English.
    [ ‘Whether’ follows → ‘or not’ ]
  • She said to her brother, “Why don’t you do your studies properly?”
    She asked her brother why he did not do his studies properly.
  • The teacher said to the student, “Have you brought the book?”
    The teacher asked the student if he had brought the book.

6. How Imperative Sentences are changed

  1. ‘that’ is not used as linker.
  2. ‘request’, ‘order’, ‘advise’ are used as reporting verb.
  3. After the reporting verb place ‘to’ and then bring the V1 of the main verb of reported speech.
    He said to me, ‘Go now.’
    He ordered me to goV1 then.
  4. If the sentence is negative then ‘not’ is used before ‘to’
  • The man said to his servant, “Go now and bring the book which I bought yesterday.”
    The man told his servant to go then and bring the book which he had bought last day.
  • The girl has told me, “Please help me with some money.”
    The girl has requested me to help her with some money.
  • He said to his brother, “Work hard to pass in the examination.”
    He suggested his brother to work hard to pass in the examination.”

7. How Imperative Sentences with Proposal are changed

  1. ‘that’ is used as linker.
  2. ‘proposed’, ‘suggest’, ‘request’ can be used as reporting verb.
  3. The reported speech normally begins with late this late changes into should should be allowed to or might be allowed to
  4. If the word request is used as the reporting verb then might be allowed to should be used in indirect speech.
  • Ravi said to his friends, “Let’s go for a movie tomorrow.”
    Ravi proposed to his friends that they should go for a movie the next day.
  • The girl said to her parents, “Let me do whatever I like.”
    The girl requested her parents that she might be allowed to do whatever she liked.
  • The little boy said to his mother, “Let me go out and play with my friends.”
    The little boy requested his mother that he might be allowed to go out and play with his friends.
  • The teacher said to the students, “Let’s do something else apart from our syllabus.”
    The teacher proposed to the students that they should do something else apart from their syllabus.

8. How Optative Sentences are changed

  1. ‘that’ is used as linker.
  2. ‘wish’, ‘pray’, ‘hope’ are used as reporting verb.
  3. Normally the sentence begins with ‘may’ and this ‘may’ changes into ‘might’ and comes after the subject in indirect speech.
  • He said to his brother, “May you live long.”
    He wished his brother that he might live long.
  • She said to me, “May God bless you.”
    She wished me that God might bless me.
  • The students said to the teacher, “Good morning sir.”
    Addressing as sir the students wished the teacher good morning.
  • My friends said to me, “ Happy Birthday.”
    My friends wished me happy birthday.

9. How Exclamatory Sentences are changed

  1. ‘that’ is used as linker.
  2. ‘exclaim’ is used as reporting verb.
  3. If ‘what’ of ‘how’ is there in the reported speech then those are changed into ‘so’ or ‘very’ or ‘great’ according to the meaning.
  • He said, Alas! I could not pass in the exam.”
    He exclaimed with sorrow that he could not pass in the exam.
  • The girl said, “How nice the dress is.”
    The girl exclaimed with wonder that the dress was very nice.
  • The teacher said to the student, “Bravo! You have done well in the exam.”
    The teacher applauded the student that he had done well in the exam.
  • She said to her friend “Fie! You have done this.”
    She exclaimed to her friend with disgust that he had done that.
  • The girl said, “Oh! Where have the sparrows gone?”
  • The girl wondered where the sparrows had gone.
  • “Fie! a soldier and afraid of fighting!” said Babar.
  • Babar cursed and exclaimed that a soldier should not be afraid of fighting.

10. Change of ‘Let’

In case of ‘Suggestion or Proposal’

  • She said, “Let us buy a Lamborghini”
  • She suggested that we should buy a Lamborghini.
  • Manu said, “Let us go to the temple.”
  • Manu proposed that they should go to the temple.
  • Coco said to me, “Let us celebrate Holi.” I said, “No, let us not.”
  • Coco proposed to me that we should celebrate Holi. But I did not agree to her proposal.
  • He said, “Let Hari come with us, mother. I’ll take care of him.”
  • He told his mother to let Hari come with them as he would take care of him.
  • “Let’s give a party”, said Jaya. “Let’s not,” said her husband.
  • Jaya suggested giving a party but her husband answered in the negative.
  • I said, “Let Mohan do his worst, he cannot harm me.”
  • I declared that though Mohan might do his worst, he could not harm me.
  • “Mohan made this mess. Let him clear it up”, said his father.
  • Mohan’s father said that Mohan had made the mess and that he should clear this.
  • I said to my friends, “Good morning. Let us go for a picnic today.
  • I wished my friends good morning and proposed that we should go for a picnic that day.
  • I said to my brother, “Let us go to some hill station for a change.”
  • I suggested to my brother we should go to some hill station for a change.

In case of ‘Order’

  • He said to me, “Let the boy in.”
  • He ordered me to let the boy in.

In case of ‘Request’

  • The boy said to me, “Let me come in.”
  • The boy requested me that he might be allowed to come in. Or,
  • The boy requested me to let him come in.
  • The convict said, “Let me speak freely please.”
  • The convict requested that he must be allowed to speak freely.

Let as ‘Do not care’

  • Mishu said, “Let it rain, I have to work.”
  • Mishu persisted that he did not care for the rain and he had to work.