English Grammar

The Basics of English Language

Indirect Speech for MODALS

Indirect speech for sentence having MODALS, “can, may, must,

                               Present modals are changed to past modals


Direct Speech

Indirect Speech

                              Indirect speech for sentence having MODALS,
“can, may, must, should, ought to”

                                            CAN changes into COULD

He said, “I can drive a car”

She said, “he can play a violin.”

They said, “we can climb on a hill”
He said that he could drive a car.

She said that he could play a violin.

They said that they can climb on a hill.

                                            MAY changes into MIGHT

He said, “I may buy a computer”

She said, “he may visit a doctor.”

They said, “they may go to zoo”

He said that he might buy a computer.

She said that he might visit a doctor.

They said that they might go to zoo.

                                           MUST changes into HAD TO

He said, “I must work hard”

She said, “they must carry on their work”

I said to him, “you must learn the test-taking strategies”

He said that he had to work hard.

She said that they had to carry on their work.

I said to him that he had to learn the test-taking strategies.


Indirect speech for sentence having MODALS, should, ought to, might, would, and could”


               The modal will not change in indirect speech

Direct Speech

Indirect Speech

                                     THESE MODALS DO NOT CHANGE
Would, could, might,  should, ought to”


They said, “we would apply for a visa”

He said, “I would start a business.

She said, “I would appear in exam”

They said that they would apply for visa.

He said that he would start a business.

She said that she would appear in the exam.


She said, “she could play a piano”

They said, “we couldn’t learn the lesson”

He said, “I could run faster”

She said that she could play a violin.

They said they couldn’t learn the lesson.

He said that he could run faster.


He said, “guests might come”

She said, “it might rain”

John said, “I might meet him”

He said that guest might come.

She said that it might rain.

John said that he might meet him.


He said, “I should avail the opportunity”

She said, “I should help a him”

They said, “we should take the exam”

He said that he should avail the opportunity.

She said that she should help him.

They said that they should take the exam.

                                                         Ought to

He said to me, “you ought to wait for him”

She said, “I ought to learn method of study”

They said, we ought to attend our classes”

He said to me that I ought to wait for him.

She said that she ought to learn method of study.

They said that they ought to attend their classes.



  1. Direct and Indirect Speech
  2. Indirect Speech for TENSE
  3. Indirect Speech for Interrogative Sentences
  4. Indirect Speech for Exclamatory and Imperative Sentences
  5. Change in Pronoun and Time in Indirect Speech