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?



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

  • 1
    Or indirect speech. – Noah Jul 26 '12 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 Jul 26 '12 at 15:14
  • It's somewhat more descriptive than "direct/indirect", which are metaphoric terms, not description. Which direction is "direct", after all? – John Lawler Jul 26 '12 at 16:49

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