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Change of Tenses in Direct and Indirect Narration with Exercise

Following rules are applied to change tenses in direct and indirect.

  • If there is present or future tense in reporting speech then we do not change tense of reported speech.
  • change of tense when reporting speech is present or future


    change of tense when reporting speech is present or future


    In above mentioned examples reporting speeches are in present indefinite and future indefinite respectively so we cannot change tense of reported speeches in both sentences. Tense of reported speeches in both sentences remains present indefinite.

  • If there is past tense in reporting speech then we shall change tense of reported speech.
  • 1. If reported speech is in present it will change into past.
    change of tense when reporting speech is past and reported is present


    change of tense when reporting speech is past and reported is present


    In above stated examples we change present indefinite of reported speech into past indefinite and present continuous into past continuous because there is past tense in reported speech. How actually this change takes place, in sentence no.1 present tense changes into past i.e indefinite will remain indefinite only present changes into past so it becomes past indefinite. In second sentence continuous will remain continuous only present changes into past and it becomes past continuous. Table given below will further clarify your concept.

    Present Indefinite changes into Past Indefinite
    Present Continuous changes into Past Continuous
    Present Perfect changes into Past Perfect
    Present Perfect Continuous changes into Past Perfect Continuous
    Is,am,are changes into Was,were
    Can changes into Could
    May changes into Might
    Shall changes into Should
    Will changes into Would
    Can have changes into Could have
    May have changes into Might have
    Shall have changes into Should have
    Will have changes into Would have

    Practice exercise for change of tenses (Present to past). Click here

    2. If there is already past tense in reported speech it will shift into past perfect.
    change of tense when reporting speech is past and reported is also past


    change of tense when reporting speech is past and reported is also past


    In above stated examples we change past indefinite of reported speech into past perfect and past continuous into past perfect continuous because there is past tense in reporting speech. So present tense canges into past and past changes into past perfect in every reported speech if there is past tense in reporting speech. Table given below will further clarify your concept.

    Past Indefinite changes into Past Perfect
    Past Continuous changes into Past Perfect Continuous
    Was,were changes into Had been
    Did not eat changes into Had not eaten
    Should changes into Should
    Would changes into Would
    Could changes into Could
    Might changes into Might
    Must changes into Must
    Ought changes into Ought
    3. If there is past perfect tense in reported speech it will not change.
    change of tense when reporting speech is past and reported is past perfect


    change of tense when reporting speech is past and reported is past perfect


    In above stated examples we do not change past Perfect of reported speech. So we can conclude, present tense canges into past, past changes into past perfect and past perfect does not change in any reported speech if there is past tense in reporting speech. Table given below will further clarify your concept.

    Had eaten changes into Had eaten
    Had been changes into Had been
    Should have changes into Should have
    Would have changes into Would have
    Might have changes into Might have
    Could have changes into Could have
  • If there is universal, general, scientific, habitual truth, proverbs, fact or something still valid at the time of narraring in reported speech then we shall not change the tense of reported speech despite there is past tense in reporting speech.
  • change of tense when reporting speech is universal truth


    change of tense when reporting speech is universal truth


    In above stated examples we can not change tense of reported speech because reported speech is universal truth and universal truth always remains in present tense.

    Practice exercise for change of tenses (Past to past perfect). Click here

For Next Lesson of Direct and Indirect
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