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Indirect Discourse
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Indirect discourse using  'that' complement (John said that he has the book.)

Indirect discourse or speech shares the same information as direct discourse/speech. The difference is that indirect discourse reports or describes what a person has said while direct discourse is exactly what a person say as indicated by the use of “…”.

Remind the student that  a complement clause completes or adds information to a noun or verb in a sentence.


Teacher actions are highlighted.

  • Review sentences using direct discourse.

  • Show students a cartoon that has a speech balloon (to indicate what the person is saying).

    • Ask: What is the person in the cartoon saying?

    • Review alternative to what someone says.

    • Write, using information from the cartoon:

      • The boy said, “I want an apple.”

  •  Show students: There is also a different structure we will see to show what people are saying. Use material from stories already read or from classroom experiences.

  • Write a sentence with direct discourse on the board:

    • Samuel said, “I want to paint a picture.”

    • Students read the sentence.

    • Ask:

      • Who is talking?

      • What is Samuel saying?

    • Show alternative way to write the sentence.

    • Write on the board under the first sentence:

      • Samuel said that he wants to paint a picture.

  • Explain the differences in the two sentences:

    • No quotation marks

    • Add the word that

    • Change pronoun I to he (explain why)

    • Verb form changes are made to agree with the new pronoun

  • Repeat the steps with another sentence:

    • Samuel said, “The red truck would make a good picture.”

  • Note that in this sentence there is no pronoun to change. We do not need to change the verb.

  • Repeat with one or two more examples, if necessary.

Anchor 1
Advancing the Strategy
  • Show students a sentence with direct discourse, such as:

    • Samuel said, “One of the tires is flat.”

  • Write the new form under the first sentence:

    • Samuel said that one of the tires is flat.

  • Have the students tell how the two sentences are different and the two sentences mean the same.

  • Repeat the same steps with another set of sentences:

    • Dad said, “I have to fix the tire on the red truck.”

  • Point out that  the pronoun and the verb change.

  • Give the students practice writing the new form.

    • Have 5 or 6 sentences with direct discourse sentences prepared.

    • The students determine the new structure and write it on the board.

    • Ask students: Why do we change the pronoun? Why do we change the verb?

  • Repeat the steps with one or two more examples.

  • Write a sentence on the board, for example:

    • Dad said, “I will have to buy a new tire.”

  • Give each student three sets of sentences with one sentence in the set incorrect. For example:

    • David said that he bought some gum at the store.

    • David said that David bought some gum at the store.

    • Latasha said that she have a blue bike.

    • Latasha said that she has a blue bike.

  • Give each student three sentences with direct discourse.

    • Students write each sentence using indirect discourse.

    • When finished, students compare and discuss their work.

  • Continue working on the same structure but use a different verb, for example:

    • Mei-Li thought, “I should paint my bedroom walls.”

    • Mei-Li thought that she should paint her bedroom walls..

    • (Note the second pronoun change from my to her.)

    • Dad thought, “I will pull the weeds out of the garden.”

    • Dad thought that he would pull the weeds out of the garden.

    • (Note the verb change from to )

  • Present the new structure with the verb thought using similar steps.

  • At a later time, present indirect discourse statements that use a different form, for example:

    • Dad told Samuel, “Pull the weeds.”

    • Dad told Samuel to pull the weeds.

  • When the students are have mastered the indirect form, give examples of additional verbs that may be used in indirect discourse (know, decide, agree, hope). Statements using these verbs generally are not written using direct discourse.

  • During guided reading discussions, give special attention to the indirect discourse statements, making sure the students understand the meaning.

Anchor 2

Note: Click on the worksheet to download a copy.

Anchor 3
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