There are two different types of dialogue I'm aware of, that for the moment I'll refer to as 'direct' dialogue and 'indirect' dialogue. However, I know these terms aren't the correct ones, and it's been driving me crazy not being able to remember.

An example would probably be best.

'Direct' dialogue: "I don't want to do that," he said.

'Indirect' dialogue: He said that he didn't want to do that.

One form uses quotes to show explicitly what was said by the person; the other merely states that the person said something, without giving their words exactly. What are the proper terms for these two methods of displaying dialogue?


1 Answer 1


The first is known as 'direct speech', the second as 'reported speech'.

  • 1
    Or indirect speech.
    – Noah
    Commented Jul 26, 2012 at 14:12
  • So my improvised terms were actually the correct ones? Go figure! Thanks for the answer, I hadn't heard the term 'reported speech' before.
    – Jesse M
    Commented Jul 26, 2012 at 15:14
  • It's somewhat more descriptive than "direct/indirect", which are metaphoric terms, not description. Which direction is "direct", after all? Commented Jul 26, 2012 at 16:49

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