Narration Change in Tenses | Narration Rules

In this topic, learn Narration Change in tenses with definition, rules, tricks, examples, and exercise. Remember, you will also be found the answers to the following questions.

How to Changes the Tenses In Narration: Tricks Rules Examples

  • How do you change All Tense to indirect speech?
  • Indirect Speech for All Tenses  with Rules and Details.

Remember, the changes in tenses in Indirect Speech can be done by considering five rules. These five rules are compulsory.

Rule One (Present Indefinite Tense)

In the first rule, first part i,e reporting speech is present indefinite tense then tense of reported speech will not be changed but other changes will be made.

Examples for Narration Change In Tenses

1. He says to me, → Present Indefinite Tense

In the above sentence, “He says to me,” belongs to the present indefinite tense. Therefore, the tense will not be changed.

He says to me, “I get up early in the morning.”(Dir)

He says to me that he gets up early in the morning. (Ind)

2. You say to us, → Present Indefinite Tense

You say to us, “we went to school on foot.” (Dir)


You say to us that they went to school on foot. (Ind)

3. Subject + says to them, → Present Indefinite Tense

He says to them, “I called them twice.” (Dir)

He says to them that he called them twice(Ind)

Rule Two (Past Indefinite Tense)

In the second rule, if reporting speech consisted of Past Indefinite Tense and reported speech consisted of Present Indefinite Tense then Present will be converted into Past Indefinite Tense.

Example of Narration Change in Tenses for Past Indefinite Tense

He said to me, = Past Indefinite Tense

“I get up early in the morning.”= Present Indefinite Tense

As we know that the reported speech is past indefinite. So, the tense (verb or helping verb) will be changed from present to past.

He said to me, “I get up early in the morning.”(Dir)

He told me that he got up early in the morning. (Ind)

Similarly, Example Change In Tense in Indirect Speech

I said to him, = Past Indefinite Tense

“You do not play cricket.”= Present Indefinite Tense

I said to him, “You do not play cricket.”(Dir)

I told him that he did not play cricket. (Ind)

Rule Three (When Both Past Indefinite)

In the third rule, if reporting speech consisted of Past Indefinite Tense and reported speech consisted of Past Indefinite Tense as well then it will be converted into Past Perfect Tense.


Both parts are Past Indefinite Tenses.

1. He said to him, “He went to school.”(Di)

He told me that he had gone to school. (Ind)

Like the first sentence, apply the same concept.

2. I said to you, “Hamza cooked food.”(Di)

I told you that Hamza had cooked food. (Ind)


3. They said to him, “We wrote a book.”(Di)

They told him that they had written a book. (Ind)

Narration Rules For Universal Truth

In the rule, if reported speech consists of universal truth, reality, or any customs then just change commas to that and do not make any other changes.


Remember, punctuational marks must be applied.

You said to me, “The Earth is round”.(Di)

Note: capitalization will be applied because Earth is a proper noun.

You said to me that the Earth is round. (Ind)

They said, “Honesty is the best policy.”(Di)

They said that honesty is the best policy. (Ind)


I said, “God helps those who help themselves.”(Di)

I said that God helps those who help themselves. (Ind)

Rule for Helping Verb

In this section, we will change the helping verb in reported speech if the reporting speech is past tense. This how we shall change it. Examples are as follow: 

Remember, the following changes are also compulsory.

Is, are, am → was, were

He said, “I am going to school”

He said that he was going to school.

was, were → had been

He said, “I was watching T.V.”

He said that he had been watching T.V.

will, shall → would

They said, “We will go.”.

They said that they would go.

Also, change these:

can→ could

The girl said, “She can cook.”

The girl said that she could cook.


may →might

The student said, “He may pass.”

The student said that he might pass.

has, have → had

She said to him, “I have done it”.

She told him that she had done it.

I said, “He has done it”.

I said that he had done it.

do not, does not → did not

They said, “We do no go daily.”

They said that they did not go daily.

You said, “He does not write.”

You said that he did not write.

did not → had not

I said to him, “You did not wash hands”.

I told him that he had not washed hands.

could → no change

He said to him, “I could get the result.”

He told him that he could get the result.

must → no change

They said, “We must follow him.”

They said that they must follow him.

would → no change

Ali said, “I would go there.”

Ali said that he would go there.

should → no change

The teacher said, “We should speak the truth.”

The teacher said that they should speak the truth.

had → no change

Alia said, “I had done her duty.”

Alia said that she had done her duty.

Finally, change the following:

might → no change

Ahmad said, “He might be absent.”

Ahmad said that he might be absent.

Remember, we shall not change the form of verbs after these helping verbs because according to the rule, after these helping verbs only the first form of the verb comes.

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