08. Indirect Speech and Paraphrasing

When you report what another author said instead of quoting word for word, you must change from direct to indirect speech. These are the adjustments you need to make:

1. Do not use quotation marks.

2. Change first person pronouns (I, me, we, us, my our) to third person (he, she, they, them, his, hers, and so on.)

3. If the verb with which you introduce your paraphrase is in the past tense, you must shift verb tense from present to past; you also may have to change past tense to past perfect, andwill to would.

4.  Change time expressions to match your new verb: today–>that day: yesterday–> the day before or the previous day: tomorrow–> the next day, the following day, or a day later: next week–>the following week, the next week, or a week later.

5. If your quotation includes a direct question, you must eliminate the question mark and change the subject/verb word order: for example “When will they return?” –> He doesn’t know when they will return.

However, changing from direct to indirect speech is only the first step in creating a paraphrase:

Examples from Guidelines:


Original text: “…the best way I can explain these complex feelings created by communication problems is by associating them with tennis” (Niella 13).

Indirect speech: Niella said that the best way he could explain those complex communication problems was by associating them with tennis.

Paraphrase: Rolando Neilla explained the feelings that he experienced as a result of his communication problems by comparing them with playing tennis (13).


Original text: “I kept wondering: which way woud I have gone if I had not waited?” (Jackson 18)

Indirect speech: Jackson wondered which way he would have gone if he had not waited.

Paraphrase: Jackson ends his story by wondering how his life might have been different without the experience of waiting in the drugstore (18).


Original text: “No! I will not submit! I will struggle first!” (Zitkala-Sa 27).

Indirect speech: Zitkala-Sa cried that she would not submit, and would struggle first.

Paraphrase: The little Indian girl fought and did not give up.

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