Writing direct and indirect speech

Learning focus

Learn about direct and indirect speech and how to punctuate it properly.

This lesson includes:

  • two videos

  • three activities

Learn

Speech is an important feature in factual writing, such as newspaper reports and recounts. It enables the writer to share important information about what people involved in the story had to say.

Inverted commas are used to show direct speech in your writing. Recap and get moving with this fun video.

Inverted commas with Mr Smith.

Learn more about how inverted commas are used to show direct speech by watching this video.

When do we use inverted commas?

Factual writing such as newspaper reports or recounts include two types of speech - direct and indirect/reported speech.

Direct speech

Direct speech is when the exact words that have been said by a person are written down inside inverted commas.

  • Inverted commas (speech marks) go before and after direct speech. They surround what was said by the speaker. For example:

"I'm pleased to have raised so much money," said Captain Tom.

Punctuating direct speech

  • A new speaker needs a new line. This might not be included in a newspaper report as the speech won’t be part of a conversation between people or characters.

  • You should use a capital letter at the start of each piece of speech.

  • Punctuation (question marks, full stops and exclamation marks) go inside the inverted commas.

  • If the person who is speaking is named before the speech, you must use a comma before the first set of inverted commas. For example:

Captain Tom exclaimed, “Let’s go and do some more laps of the garden!”

Indirect (reported) speech

  • When indirect speech is used, the writer will share the main points of what someone has said without writing exactly what they said in full.

  • No speech punctuation (like inverted commas) is used for indirect speech.

Example

  • Direct: “I was tired after all that walking,” explained Captain Tom.

Could be written as:

  • Indirect: Captain Tom admitted he was very tired by the end of his challenge.

Practise

You may need paper and a pen or pencil for some of these activities.

Activity 1

Test your knowledge of direct speech and inverted commas by completing this quiz.

Activity 2

1. Read through this Newsround report: Humpback whales return after almost becoming extinct.

Can you find the example of direct speech?

2. Now read through this Newround report: The jellyfish-juggling dolphin and other amazing animals.

Can you find the example of indirect (reported) speech?

You can check your answers using this answer sheet.

Activity 3

Read the sentences below carefully.

Writing on a piece of paper, change any that are in direct speech to indirect speech, and any that are in indirect speech to direct speech.

1. “Hurry up please, it’s nearly 3 o’clock!” shouted Granny.

2. Ruby asked whether she could have a chocolate ice cream for dessert.

3. The shopkeeper announced that there was no bread left.

4. Freddie whispered, “Do you have a spare pencil?”

5. “Are you going on holiday?” asked Pritika.

You can check your answers in this suggested answers sheet.

Where next?

In this lesson you have learnt about direct and indirect speech and how to punctuate it properly.

There are other useful articles on Bitesize to help you to understand more about non-fiction writing:

There's more to learn

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