Overview of Narration

What is direct and indirect speech?

Narration – It is a way to narrate a statement.

We can narrate a statement in two ways:

  • Direct Narration/Direct Speech: We write the sentence spoken by the speaker as it is (i.e. without modifying it a bit)
    Aanya says, “you study too hard.”

  • Indirect Narration/Indirect Speech/Reported Speech: We write the sentence spoken by the speaker in our own words (i.e. we modify the sentence, but without changing the meaning).
    Aanya says that I study too hard.

In Direct Speech, we use inverted commas to mark off the exact words of the speaker. In Indirect Speech we do not.

Analysis of direct speech

Components of direct speech

Direct narration has two components:

  • Reporting clause – who reports
  • Reported speech (quotation) – that which is reported. It can be an assertive, interrogative, imperative, optative, or an exclamatory sentence.

He said to me, “Aanya writes a letter every day”.

Direct and Indirect speech

In the above sentence, the Reporting clause is - He said to me
(said - reporting verb; He - subject of reporting verb; me - object of reporting verb)

Similarly, the Reported speech is - Aanya writes a letter everyday.
(writes - verb of reported speech; Aanya - subject of reported speech; letter - object of reported speech)

Position of reporting clause

It’s not necessary for the reporting clause to come at the start. It can come before, within, or at the end of the quotation.

Let us see some examples:

He asked, “Where should I go now?” (reporting clause before the quotation)
“I guess you already know the news,” he said. (reporting clause at the end of the quotation)

“Sure,” Mark replied, “I will get this job done.” (reporting clause within the quotation)

In stories and novels, you will often see that the reporting verb (e.g. say, reply, ask) is placed before the subject when the reporting clause comes after the quotation.

“Why do you want to join our organization?” asked the Manager.
(or The Manager asked, “Why do you want to join our organization”.)

However, we don’t use this order when the subject is a pronoun.

“That’s why we decided to relocate”, said she. (incorrect)
“That’s why we decided to relocate”, she said. (correct)

Analysis of indirect speech

Components of indirect speech

Just like direct speech, indirect speech sentences also have a reporting clause and a reported clause.

She told (that) she couldn’t come to the party.

Direct and Indirect speech

Which tense to use while reporting?

To report something said or thought in the past → the verb in the reporting clause and reported clause is often in a past tense

Just before boarding, he revealed that he had forgot his passport at home. (revealed – verb in reporting clause; had forgot – verb in reported clause)

I explained that my website was not made using Wordpress CMS. (explained – verb in reporting clause; was – verb in reported clause)

Mragank announced that he was leaving. (announced – verb in reporting clause; was – verb in reported clause)

Negatives in reporting

lf we want to report a negative sentence, then we normally report this in the ‘reported clause’.

Negative sentence to be reported: ‘You are right, she isn’t a good dancer.’
Reported speech: He agreed that she wasn’t a good dancer.

However, with some verbs, to report a negative sentence we make the verb in the ‘reporting clause’ negative, i.e. we make the reporting verb negative (instead of making the verb in ‘reported clause’ negative)

Verbs like this include: say, think, believe, expect, feel, intend, plan, propose, suppose, want.

Negative sentence to be reported: ‘I am sure it’s not acidic.’
She thought it wasn’t acidic. (incorrect)
She didn’t think it was acidic. (correct)

He didn’t tell me how he would get to London.

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