Direct and Indirect Speech – Reporting a Question | Sentence Synthesis

With the examinations approaching, I am hoping to churn out a few more tips to aid in the children’s revision. In the previous post, I had looked at Direct and Indirect Speech questions which are in statement form (“I am very hungry,” said Jeff.). Today, we will wrap up sentence synthesis questions in this area by dwelling into the reporting of direct questions. (e.g. “Where did the boy go?” asked Maria)

The Basics: Changing a question to a statement

When we report a statement, we mentioned that we need to take note of the TPTP (Tenses, Pronouns, Time and Place). The same goes for reporting a question. However, the main difference in reporting a question is the need to change the structure of the question into a statement.

The first thing you need to do is to understand the difference between a statement (ends with a full stop or an exclamation mark) and a question.

The structure of a statement is usually: Subject + Verb

E.g. She (S) is (V) coming.

The structure of a question is usually: Verb + Subject

E.g. Is (V) she (S) coming?

Hence, when you report a question into a statement, a switch needs to be made from a question to a statement:

V + S (“Is she…”)  —>  S + V (“She is/was…” depending on the Tenses of the question.)

Reporting a Question

Exception – Missing Subject

If a subject is missing, there is no V + S to switch to S + V.

The reported speech will still sound like a question.

Reporting a Question

5W1H type of questions

For 5W1H type of questions, the “Who…”, “What…”, “Where…”, “Why…”, “When…”, “How…” etc. needs to be kept in the answer. Instead of adding “if” or “whether”, we begin our transformation with the W word.

Where is (V) she (S)? —> Where she (S) was (V)…

Reporting a Question

Do/ Does/ Did type of questions

For questions that contain “do”, “does” or “did”, we usually will omit them during the transformation. They are responsible for telling us the tenses but not necessary in the answers.

Reporting a Question

The above are the main types of questions and what to take note of when reporting a question. As mentioned earlier, the rules to change TPTP remains the same every time we change direct speech to indirect speech. However, as the structure of questions is essentially different from that of a statement, some children do find it harder to make changes for the tenses as it just seemed less obvious to them in a question form.

Below is a table on the change in tenses when applied to the reporting of questions. Hopefully, it will give you some clarity on how the changes take place!

Direct and Indirect Speech

As always, having practice to accompany what is learnt is vital to reinforcing the knowledge! Thus, make sure that you practise some questions to apply what you have learnt (:

I will be putting up a new post next week, possibly a vocabulary list on words that every pupil should know in order to have a good chance in understanding and answering the questions in Visual Text Comprehension. Look out for it! (:


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Synthesis Skill-wers

1. 30 over bite-sized video lessons! (On Golden Rules for synthesis and focused question types)

2. Unique strategies to tackle a wide range of synthesis question types e.g. Active/Passive voice, Direct/Indirect Speech, No sooner had… than…, Not only… but also etc.

3. Topical worksheets accompanying each video consisting of at least 5 questions + A bonus 20-question quiz upon completion of course! (over 150 practice questions in total)

Synthesis and Transformation

Mrs Chew

With her passion to create relevant and easy-to-understand materials for the lil’ ones, Mrs Lily Chew works alongside her team of teachers to design the Lil’ but Mighty curriculum. Constantly looking at best educational practices and thinking of ways to improve the curriculum, Mrs Chew finds pure joy in unlocking creative and different ways of helping each child achieve his or her personal best.

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