Today I am going to talk about direct speech/quoted speech vs. indirect speech/reported speech in Spanish.

In the Spanish language, this topic of Spanish grammar is called “estilo directo” vs. “estilo indirecto.” In English, direct style vs. indirect style.

In both Spanish and English, we have two different ways to express what someone else says:

1. direct speech/quoted speech (“estilo directo”)
2. indirect speech/reported speech (“estilo indirecto”)

Direct speech is easy to understand. You simply take the exact words of the original speaker and put them in quotes.

Patricio dice, “quiero ir al cine.”
Patrick says, “I want to go the movies.”

Claudia pregunta: “¿Dónde están las medias moradas?”
Claudia asks, “Where are the purple socks?”

In both Spanish and English, indirect speech/reported speech (“estilo indirecto”) is more complicated than direct speech/quoted speech (“estilo directo”).

With indirect speech (“estilo indirecto”), the original speaker’s words are reported without quotes and are usually introduced by the clause “que.”

It may also be necessary to change subject pronouns and possessives when using indirect speech (“estilo indirecto”):

ED: Patricio dice, “(yo) quiero mi cuaderno.”
DS: Patrick says, “I want my notebook.”
EI: Patricio dice que (él) quiere su cuaderno.
IS: Patrick says that he wants his notebook.

In this example, the pronouns changed:

“I” became “he” and “yo” became “él”

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The possessives also changed:
“my” became “his” and “mi” became “su”

These aren’t the only changes that may take place when going from “estilo directo” to “estilo indirecto.”

With indirect speech (“estilo indirecto”), you may also need to change Verbs in two different ways: a) You may need to change verbs to agree with the new subject. Let’s look at the above example sentences again:

ED: Patricio dice, “(yo) quiero mi cuaderno.”
DS: Patrick says, “I want my notebook.”
EI: Patricio dice que (él) quiere su cuaderno.
IS: Patrick says that he wants his notebook.

Direct Style vs. Indirect Style in Spanish Part 2

Notice that “quiero” changed to “quiere” when changing from “estilo directo” to “estilo indirecto”?

b) You may also need to change the tense of the verb so that the phrase is logical.

IMPORTANT NOTE: As indicated in the above examples with Patricio wanting his notebook, when the verb in the main clause is in the present tense, there is NO change in tense.

Let’s now look at some examples when the verb in the main clause is NOT in the present tense but is in the past tense:

ED: Patricio dijo, “quiero mi cuaderno.”
DS: Patrick said, “I want my notebook.”

EI: Patricio dijo que quería su cuaderno.
IS: Patrick said he wanted his book.

ED: Claudia preguntó, “¿Dónde están las medias moradas?”
DS: Claudia asked, “Where are the purple socks?”

EI: Claudia preguntó dónde estaban las medias moradas.
IS: Claudia asked where the purple socks were.