In Indirect speech: He said he had been reading when the phone had rung.

what would be the correct sentence when it is converted into a direct speech?


3 Answers 3


He said "I was reading when the phone rang."

  • Thanks a lot Kate Bunting, but there is a chance where it can also be, He said " I had been reading when the phone rang". So, which one should I consider here.
    – user120229
    Commented Aug 4, 2020 at 18:48
  • Yes, that could work too - it depends on what he actually did say! Commented Aug 7, 2020 at 11:33

It's impossible to convert indirect speech into direct speech.

In direct speech, there is only one thing that was said: whatever actually was said.

You can't "convert" it. It was what it was. Literally. If you don't know exactly what was said, then you can't claim to know the truthfulness of whatever you say, and should only keep it in indirect speech, which is open to interpretation.

Either you know what was said (and can simply report it) or you don't. If you don't, you could be misrepresenting the situation by claiming something of which you don't have explicit knowledge.


I believe your indirect form also has a tiny mistake.

He had been reading when the phone rang

is the correct form and in the direct form of speech he could tell :

I had been reading when the phone rang.

There is no need to use past perfect tense as it does not imply an action in the past after the phone rang.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .