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Essay Direct Speech Examples

Direct and Indirect Speech

When using indirect or reported speech, the form changes. Usually indirect speech is introduced by the verb said, as in I said, Bill said, or they said. Using the verb say in this tense, indicates that something was said in the past. In these cases, the main verb in the reported sentence is put in the past. If the main verb is already in a past tense, then the tense changes to another past tense; it can almost be seen as moving even further into the past.

Verb tense changes also characterize other situations using indirect speech. Note the changes shown in the chart and see the table below for examples. With indirect speech, the use of that is optional.

Direct SpeechIndirect Speech
simple present
He said, "I go to school every day."
simple past
He said (that) he went to school every day.
simple past
He said, "I went to school every day."
past perfect
He said (that) he had gone to school every day.
present perfect
He said, "I have gone to school every day."
past perfect
He said (that) he had gone to school every day.
present progressive
He said, "I am going to school every day."
past progressive
He said (that) he was going to school every day.
past progressive
He said, "I was going to school every day."
perfect progressive
He said (that) he had been going to school every day,
future (will)
He said, "I will go to school every day."
would + verb name
He said (that) he would go to school every day.
future (going to)
He said, "I am going to school every day."
present progressive
He said (that) he is going to school every day.
past progressive
He said (that) he was going to school every day
auxiliary + verb name
He said, "Do you go to school every day?"
He said, "Where do you go to school?"
simple past
He asked me if I went to school every day.*
He asked me where I went to school.
imperative
He said, "Go to school every day."
infinitive
He said to go to school every day.

*Note than when a Yes/No question is being asked in direct speech, then a construction with if or whether is used. If a WH question is being asked, then use the WH to introduce the clause. Also note that with indirect speech, these are examples of embedded questions.

The situation changes if instead of the common said another part of the very to say is used. In that case the verb tenses usually remain the same. Some examples of this situation are given below.

Direct SpeechIndirect Speech
simple present + simple present
He says, "I go to school every day."
simple present + simple present
He says (that) he goes to school every day.
present perfect + simple present
He has said, "I go to school every day."
present perfect + simple present
He has said (that) he goes to school every day.
past progressive + simple past
He was saying, "I went to school every day."
past progressive + simple past
He was saying (that) he went to school every day.
past progressive + past perfect
He was saying (that) he had gone to school every day.
future + simple present
He will say, "I go to school every day."
future + simple present
He will say (that) he goes to school every day.

Another situation is the one in which modal constructions are used. If the verb said is used, then the form of the modal, or another modal that has a past meaning is used.

Direct SpeechIndirect Speech
can
He said, "I cango to school every day."
could
He said (that) he couldgo to school every day.
may
He said, "I may go to school every day."
might
He said (that) he might go to school every day.
might
He said, "I might go to school every day."
must
He said, "I must go to school every day."
had to
He said (that) he had to go to school every day.
have to
He said, "I have to go to school every day."
should
He said, "I should go to school every day."
should
He said (that) he should go to school every day.
ought to
He said, "I ought to go to school every day."
ought to
He said (that) he ought to go to school every day.

While not all of the possibilities have been listed here, there are enough to provide examples of the main rules governing the use of indirect or reported speech. For other situations, try to extrapolate from the examples here, or better still, refer to a good grammar text or reference book.

Some other verbs that can be used to introduce direct speech are: ask, report, tell, announce, suggest, and inquire. They are not used interchangeably; check a grammar or usage book for further information.

Updated September 10 2014 by Student & Academic Services

There are two types of dialogue: direct and indirect

Direct dialogue is speech using the character’s exact words. In this case, quotation marks are used.

Indirect dialogue is a second-hand report of something that was said or written but NOT the exact words in their original form.

When writing a narrative essay, you are telling a story. That story can become confusing for the reader, though, when dialogue is added, unless it’s very clear who is doing the talking. Knowing how to quote someone in an essay can help your reader more easily follow the flow and action of the story.


Let’s focus on the writing of direct dialogue by looking at some narrative essay example sentences.

There are some rules to follow when writing direct dialogue in your narratives:

Rule #1: Use quotation marks to indicate the words that are spoken by the characters.

Example: “Help me!” exclaimed the little girl.


Rule #2: Always begin a new paragraph when the speaker changes.

Example:
“I am coming home,” Sue announced. “I am really tired and can’t work anymore.”
“Okay, I think you should do that,” her husband agreed.


Rule #3: Make sure the reader knows who is doing the talking.


Rule #4: Use correct punctuation marks and capitalization.

Example:
“May I buy a new pair of shoes?” Lauren asked her mom.

Note that the quotation marks are outside the end punctuation of the quote; the rest of the sentence has its own end punctuation.

If the quote is not a question or exclamation, use a comma and not a period before the second quotation marks.

“I bought a new jacket yesterday,” Tammy said.

 


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