Colorful, striking direct quotations enliven a news story, but not everything an interview subject says is worth quoting in its entirety.
An hour of note-taking might result in a lot of information, but little in the way of pithy remarks. It’s the writer’s job to distinguish between what’s worth quoting verbatim, and what would be better paraphrased.
For example, you have interviewed numerous students and faculty about a university decision against arming teaching staff. Their comments are all very similar, so you decide not to quote them directly. Instead, you quote them indirectly:
Students and faculty interviewed for this story said they were relieved by the decision.
Certain alterations must be made when turning a direct quotation into reported speech. Verbs, pronouns, and time adverbials are changed:
Direct quotation: “I plan to climb Mount McKinley tomorrow.”
Indirect quotation: Jones said he planned to climb Mount McKinley the following day.
Direct quotation: “At the moment I’m performing at the Citadel, but next week I’ll be joining the cast of Grease at the Odeon.”
Indirect quotation: Jack Riprock said that at the time he was playing at the Citadel, but that the following week he would be joining the cast of Grease at the Odeon.
Go becomes went, is becomes was, will becomes would, and so on.
Now becomes then, today becomes that day, yesterday becomes the day before, etc.
The personal pronoun I becomes he or she, us becomes them, etc.
The transformed quotation is frequently phrased as a noun clause introduced by that:
She said that she would never forget the day she almost died.
Here are some verbs other than say that a writer can use to introduce an indirect quotation:
add, admit, agree, announce, answer, argue, boast, claim, comment, complain, confirm, consider, deny, doubt, estimate, explain, fear, feel, insist, mention, observe, persuade, propose, remark, remember, repeat, reply, report, reveal, state, suggest, suppose, tell, think, understand, warn, ask, know, remember, see, decide, expect, guarantee, hope, promise, swear, threaten, advise, beg, prefer, recommend, request, describe, discover, discuss, forget, guess, imagine, learn, realize, wonder, command, forbid, instruct, invite.
Note, the word that does not always have to be expressed: She said she would never forget the day she almost died.
Want to improve your English in five minutes a day? Get a subscription and start receiving our writing tips and exercises daily!
Keep learning! Browse the Style category, check our popular posts, or choose a related post below:
Stop making those embarrassing mistakes! Subscribe to Daily Writing Tips today!
- You will improve your English in only 5 minutes per day, guaranteed!
- Subscribers get access to our archives with 800+ interactive exercises!
- You'll also get three bonus ebooks completely free!