In indirect speech (reported speech), we report the speaker’s words.

  • “Why are you happy?” June asked Amahle. [arrow] June asked Amahle why she was

We remove the opening and closing inverted commas (“…”).

  • Amahle said, “I am happy to see my friend Rethabile.” [arrow] Amahle said that she was happy to see her friend Rethabile.

We use that before the reported speech, unless it is a question. If it is a question, we often use if or whether. If the first word is a question word (what/who/when/where/why/how), there is no need to use that/if/whether.

  • “I will find out the facts,” said Lubanzi.[arrow] Lubanzi said that he would find out the facts.

We change the verb tenses. Go back one tense (for example, is/am [arrow] was; was/were [arrow] had been; will [arrow] would).

  • “My family went to the beach,” Sally said. [arrow] Sally said that her family had gone to the beach.

We change the pronouns (for example, we [arrow] they; I [arrow] she/he; you [arrow] he/she/him/her; me[arrow] him/her; us [arrow] them; mine [arrow] his/hers; ours [arrow] theirs).

  • I don’t believe you,” Bandile said to Enzokuhle. [arrow] Thando told Bandile that he didn’t believe her.

We also change: my/your [arrow] his/her; our [arrow] their.

  • Grace asked Bokamoso, “Where did you find your information?” [arrow] Grace asked Bokamoso where he found his information.

We change “said to” (someone) to “told” (someone).

  • “I love you,” Sandile said to Sarah. [arrow] Sandile told Sarah that he loved her.

We do not include question marks or exclamation marks in indirect speech.

  • “That is terrible news!” exclaimed Rethabile. [arrow] Rethabile exclaimed that that was terrible news.

For commands, we change the verb to the infinitive (e.g. eat[arrow]to eat).

  • “Get out the classroom!” the teacher ordered Thomas. [arrow] The teacher ordered Thomas to get out the classroom.

Questions that start with do/did: use “if” or “whether”.

  • Do you agree with me?” Omphile asked him. [arrow] Omphile asked him if he agreed with her.