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Introduction
14 May 2021

Narration is the process of recounting a sequence of events, real or imagined. It is usually used for storytelling. Here, two cases are formed, when the person himself and directly tells the story to the audience or the third person narrates the story of some other person. On the basis of it, it contains the following types of speech:

  • Direct speech – the event is described exactly as it was, usually the first person account of the event. It is usually written in between a pair of inverted commas.
    • Example:
    • Priyanka told me, “I’ll finish the work today.”
  • Indirect speech – the event still shares the same information but the event is now reported without using actual words. Usually the person who narrates the event is second person.
    • Example:
    • Priyanka said to me that she would finish the work that day.

Basics of Narration

Direct-Indirect

To change the direct speech into indirect speech, one need to follow some rules. Let’s understand this process with the help of few examples:

Sentence: Ram says, “he is working hard day and night.”

The first thing is to look for Reporting verb and reported speech in a sentence -

Reporting verb

Reported Speech

Ram says,

“he is working hard day and night.”

If reporting verb is in present or future – no change in reported speech and connect both sentences with the help of conjunction.

If reporting verb is in past – then only the whole sentence will change into Indirect speech.

Note: No change means there will be no change in the tense; but ‘Person’, ‘conjunction’ and ‘words’ will change.

Reported Verb

Sentence Type

Conjunction

  • Said to / told
  • Assertive
  • That

  • Asked, enquired, wanted to know

  • Interrogative
  • If, whether, - wh family.
  • Requested, ordered, forbade

  • Imperative
  • To, let, that
  • Exclaimed with sorrow, joy, etc

  • Exclamatory
  • That
  • Blessed, cursed, wished
  • Optative
  • That


D: Ram says “he is working hard day and night”.

I: Ram says that he is working hard day and night.


If Reporting verb is in Past, changes in the reported speech:

Changes in reported speech

From

Into

  • Present Indefinite
  • Present Continuous
  • Present Perfect
  • Present Perfect Continuous
  • Past Indefinite
  • Past Continuous
  • Will/Shall
  • Can/May
  • Past Indefinite
  • Past Continuous
  • Past Perfect
  • Past Perfect Continuous
  • Past Perfect
  • Past Perfect Continuous
  • Would/Should
  • Could/Might

Example:

D: He said to me “he has accomplished all the tasks before time”.

I: He told me that he had accomplished all the tasks before time.

When there will be no changes in reported speech, even if the Reporting verb is in Past form of verb:

No changes in reported speech

  • When already in:
    • Past Perfect
    • Past perfect continuous
    • Any modals except can/may
    • Universal truth
    • Idioms/proverbs
    • Daily schedule
    • If two clauses are connected by – when/while in past
    • Any fact in past indefinite
    • Need not, used to, would rather, would better, had rather, had better, should, must, subjunctive mood.

Example:

D: Father said “when he entered the room his son switched off the TV”.

I: Father said that when he entered the room his son switched off the TV.

Person Change

Person

According to

  • First Person
  • Second Person
  • Third Person
  • Subject
  • Object
  • No Change

 Explanation:

 D: Ram said to GitaI am working on my project reports

 Subject: Ram

 Object: Shyam

 Person: I am (First) which will change according to Subject.

 I: Ram said to Gita that he was working on his project reports.


 D: Ram said to Gita “You are working on your reports”.

 Person: You (i.e., Second; will change according to Object (Gita))

 I: Ram said to Gita that she is working on her reports.


 D: Captain said “we should work together”.

 I: Captain said that they should work together.

Direct and Indirect speech of some basic sentence types

Interrogative Sentence

If reported speech starts with helping verb, we use If or Whether as a conjunction and make remaining sentence assertive.

D: Master said to the servant “are you trimming these plants?”

I: Master asked the servant if he was trimming those plants.


If reported speech starts with -‘wh’ family word, we use that as conjunction and make remaining sentence assertive.

D: Teacher said to the students “why did you not do your homework?”

I: Teacher asked the students why they had not done their homework.

Imperative Sentence

Example:

D: Master said to the servant “post the letter as soon as possible”

I: Master ordered the servant to post the letter as soon as possible.

D: Teacher said “Don’t tease others”

I: Teacher advised not to tease others.

D: He said “let me play here”

I: He requested that he should be allowed to play there.

Exclamatory Sentence

Words

Changes Into

  • Alas!
  • Exclaimed with sorrow
  • Hurray!
  • Exclaimed with joy
  • What a!
  • Exclaimed with wonder
  • How, wow
  • Exclaimed with surprise
  • Oh my god
  • Exclaimed with sorrow/Surprise
  • Ouch
  • Exclaimed with pain
  • Fie-fie
  • Exclaimed with disgust
  • Bravo
  • Applauded

Example:

D: Captain said “Hurrah! We won the match”

I: captain exclaimed with joy that they had won the match.


D: Passer-by said “Fie-Fie! This place is too stinky”

I: Passer by exclaimed with disgust that that place was too stinky.

Optative Sentence

Example:

D: He said “may you live long”

I: He wished that he might live long.


D: He said “God bless you”

I: He wished that God might bless him/them.

Miscellaneous

Other

D: Teachers said to the students “have you done your homework?” Students said “No”.

I: Teacher asked the students If they had done their homework, they replied negatively/in negation.


 

Did You Know

  • Aristotle give the name Prothesis to Narration.
  • It is also called Story-telling.
  • Direct speech can be used in virtually every tense in English.
  • Indirect speech is always used in the past tense.