Types of speech: Direct, indirect and indirect free speech

The direct speech is one in which the narrator of a story presents the talks between the characters faithfully. In this type of discourse, there is a pause in the narration, so that the author can quote a dialogue that demonstrates the speech characteristics of each character, with accents and slang, among other aspects. The indication of the statements is made by the use of the dash and it is common to use declarative verbs, as asked, answered, said, observe the example below:

So, João went to the doctor and asked him :
– Doctor, how much life do I have left?

The indirect speech is one in which the narrator describes what the characters speak, telling the reader what happened. In this case, there is no faithful representation of what was said, so it is considered an indirect speech, so that it is present throughout the text, without pauses. The speech characteristics of each interlocutor are not shown, but the use of declarative verbs is also common. Take the example:


João, apprehensive, asked the doctor how much life he had left.

Free indirect speech is the combination of the two types of speech in the same sentence, so that the narrator faithfully presents what was said by the characters, but making use of an indirect speech in which he himself is telling what was said, that is , there is no separation of the speeches as in direct speech, but the scores are preserved, such as interrogations, exclamations. Here, it is also common to use declarative verbs, note the example:

João was apprehensive all day with the consultation he would have with his doctor in the late afternoon. Once there, he identified himself with the receptionist and waited to be called. He couldn’t wait any longer, asking: Doctor, how much time do I have left? His answer did not come immediately, of course. The doctor tried to be cautious, until finally the answer came: Approximately six months of life are estimated, my dear João.

Therefore, in summary, we can separate the types of speeches presenting what they are and their examples in the table below, see:


Types of speech What are Examples
Direct speech It is the one that the narrator quotes the lines of the characters faithfully by means of a dash , giving a pause in the narration for this After all the events, Maria asked João:

– How could you do this to me, João? I’m very upset.

Indirect speech It is the one that the author says what was spoken by the characters, being a form of indirect description of what happened in the story After all the events, Maria, very upset, asked João why he had done this to her.
Free indirect speech It is the junction of the two types of discourse. In this type, the speech of the characters is incorporated into that of the narrator
by Abdullah Sam
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