direct speech: He said to the judge," I did not commit this crime.

Indirect speech(book answer): He told the judge that he had not committed the crime.

Here book changes this into the.

In many instances i found that This was changed into That.for example this week into that week.


Direct speech: He said," I shall do this tomorrow."

Indirect speech(book answer): He said that he should do it the next day.

In #2 book changes this into it.

In three different sentences This was changed into the, that and it. So i am confused when to change this into the, that and it.

  • Rule of thumb: choose the one that you think makes the most sense while pretending that you read only the reporting version and never read the direct version. (In short, pretend uninformed.) Dec 19, 2014 at 9:43

1 Answer 1


Imagine that when person "A" says "this" or "that", he and the person spoken to (person "B") are looking at the same thing. It's as if they are pointing at the thing with a finger.

Now, when someone else (person "C") is reporting to person "D" the conversation between A and B, person C cannot point at the thing with his finger because the thing is not there, but is with A and B. So person "C" cannot use "this" when reporting speech between A and B.

A: I like this kitten.
B: -- I like that kitten too. Here, kitty kitty! Ouch! This kitten has sharp claws.

C: "A" said he liked the kitten.
D: --Did "B" like the kitten too? What color was it?

Here, the "thing" is not something with fur but an intangible:

A: You would be wise to remember this: a stitch in time saves nine.
B: -- I'll remember that.

C: A told B that he would be wise to remember: a stitch in time saves nine.
D: -- Did B say he would remember it?
C: I forget what he said.

  • Now I come to know when to change this into that and the. Thanks to your explanation. But i am still confuse when to change this into it. What i understand from your example is this that if we are talking about intangible things than we change this into it. Am i right?(In example #2 this refer to some kind of work which is intangible thing so we changed this into it.
    – starun008
    Dec 20, 2014 at 13:39
  • "What color was it?" It can refer to any creature that is not a human, or to an intangible. In the second example, we can use "it". If we use "the", we need a noun: "the adage", or "the saying".
    – TimR
    Dec 20, 2014 at 14:26
  • If, after the kitten scratches B, the kitten runs away from B, B can say: "That kitten had sharp claws!". While it is scratching him, it is "This kitten has sharp claws".
    – TimR
    Dec 20, 2014 at 14:30

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