Interrogative sentences in reported speech: rules and examples

Hey learners! In this post, we will master how to change direct speech to indirect speech when the reported speech in the direct speech is an interrogative sentence. Before we do that, we must know what direct and indirect speech is.

What is a direct speech?

Direct speech definition: It is a way to narrate what someone said using the speaker’s exact words. The reported speech (the speaker’s words) is placed in quotation marks and is offset using a comma.

What is an indirect speech?

Indirect speech definition: it is a way to narrate what someone said but not using the speaker’s exact words. Unlike a direct speech, it is not placed in quotation marks and separated by a comma.

Direct speech: She said to me, “Do you love me?”
Indirect speech: She told me if I loved her.

Important things to understand:

1. Directing speech: It is the part (clause) that you (the person who narrates the speaker’s original words) say. In the above examples, “She said to me” and “She told me” are reporting speeches. These are the parts the narrator of the reported speech says.

2. Directed speech: it is the part that comes from the original speaker. In the above examples, Do you love me? and if I loved her are reported speeches.

Interrogative sentences in the reported speech

Interrogative sentence definition: Sentences that are used to ask questions are called interrogative sentences. They end with a question mark.

There are two types of interrogative sentences:

  1. Ones that can be answered in YES or NO.
  2. Ones that can not be answered in YES or NO. They need to be explained.
  • Direct speech: My uncle said to me, “What are you studying?”
  • Direct speech: She asked me, “Do you still love me?”
  • Indirect speech: My uncle asked me what I was studying.
  • Indirect speech: She asked me if I still loved her.

NOTE: Interrogative sentences in direct speech are changed into assertive sentences.

Process/steps of changing Interrogative sentences (reported speech) into indirect speech:

  1. Remove the quotation marks and the comma from the reported speech.
  2. Put the question word (WH family word) at the beginning of the reported speech when the question can’t be answered in YES or NO. If the question can be answered in YES/NO, replace the helping verb (auxiliary) with IF or WHETHER.
  3. Put the subject of the reported speech after it.
  4. Put the verb after the subject.
  5. Replace the question mark with a period/full stop.
  6. The reporting verb SAY in the direct speech is changed into ASK/INQUIRE.

NOTE: Interrogative sentences that can be answered in YES/NO start with auxiliary verbs (is/am/are/do/does/has/have/will/shall/can/could/may/might/should/would…). And interrogative sentences that can’t be answered in simple YES/NO start with WH family words (what/why/where/when/how/who/whom).

Examples of interrogative sentences in reported speech
Examples of interrogative sentences in reported speech

Examples:-

Direct speech structure:
Auxiliary verb + subject + main verb + subject complement?
Auxiliary verb + subject + main verb + object/modifier?

Indirect speech structure:
If/whether + subject + main verb + subject complement.
If/whether + subject + main verb + object/modifier.

  • Direct speech: I asked her, “Will you go out with me?”
    Indirect speech: I asked her if/whether she would go out with me.
  • Direct speech: The guy on the street said to me, ” Do you know whom you are messing with?”
    Indirect speech: The guy on the street asked me if I knew whom I was messing with.
  • Direct speech: On the very first date, she asked me, “Have you kissed a girl?”
    Indirect speech: On the very first date, she asked me if I had kissed a girl.
  • Direct speech: The other night, Jon asked me, “Are you taking drugs?”
    Indirect speech: The other night, Jon asked me if I was taking drugs.
  • Direct speech: She said, “Can you kiss me right now?”
    Indirect speech: She asked if I could kiss her right then.

In the indirect speech of the reported part, we replace the auxiliary verb with IF or WHETHER. The subject is put before the verb so that the interrogative sentence changes into an assertive sentence.

All these questions can be answered in YES/NO. If the questions can’t be answered in YES/NO, don’t use if/whether. Let’s look at the following examples:

Direct speech structure:
WH family word + auxiliary verb + subject + main verb + object/modifier (optional)?

Indirect speech structure:
WH family word + subject + main verb + object/modifier.

  • Direct speech: The police asked, “What were you doing when the incident happened?”
    Indirect speech: The police asked what I had been doing when the incident had happened.
  • Direct speech: He said, “What can I do for you?”
    Indirect speech: He asked what he could for me.
  • Direct speech: Ron asked my father, “What do you do?”
    Indirect speech: Ron asked my father what he did.
  • Direct speech: She said to us, “What do you think of yourselves?”
    Indirect speech: She asked us what we thought of ourselves.
  • Direct speech: My brother asked, “Who is that girl?”
    Indirect speech: My brother asked who that girl was.

I hope you guys, now, know how to deal with interrogative sentences in the reported speech. How to change direct speech into indirect when the reported speech is an interrogative sentence

Watch my YouTube lesson on how to change direct speech to indirect when the reported speech is an interrogative sentence:

2 thoughts on “Interrogative sentences in reported speech: rules and examples”

  1. Sir in the Wh-question u make wrong indirect speech .
    Ex.1
    The police asked, “what were you doing when the incident happened..? ”
    Ans-The police asked what I had been doing when the incident had happened..
    Plz check this ex if I will wrong then plz tell me where I was wrong…

    Reply

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