Types of Discourse: direct, indirect and free indirect

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Direct Speech, Indirect Speech and Free Indirect Speech are types of speeches used in the narrative genre to introduce the characters' speeches and thoughts. Its use varies depending on the narrator's intent.

Direct speech

In direct speech, the narrator pauses in his narration and proceeds to faithfully quote the character's speech.

The purpose of this type of speech is to convey authenticity and spontaneity. Thus, the narrator distances himself from the discourse, not taking responsibility for what is said.

It can also be used for reasons of humility - not to mention something that was said by a scholar, for example, as if it were his own authorship.

Characteristics of Direct Speech

  • Use of category verbs dicendi, that is, those related to the verb "to say". They are called "utterance verbs", namely: speak, respond, ask, inquire, declare, exclaim, among others.
  • Use of punctuation marks - dash, exclamation, question mark, colon, quotation mark.
  • Insertion of speech in the middle of the text - not necessarily on a single line.
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Direct Speech Examples

  1. Graduates repeated: "I promise to fulfill my duties and respect my fellow men with firmness and honesty."
  2. The defendant stated: "I am innocent!"
  3. Wanting to hear his voice, he decided to call:
    "Hello, who's talking?"
    — Good morning, who do you want to talk to? - He replied with a tone of sympathy.

Indirect speech

In indirect speech, the narrator of the story interferes in the character's speech, preferring his words. Here we don't find the character's own words.

Indirect Discourse Characteristics

  • The speech is narrated in third person.
  • Sometimes the utterance verbs are used, for example: speak, answer, ask, inquire, declare, exclaim. However, there is no use of the dash, as generally the clauses are subordinate, that is, they depend on other clauses, which can be marked through the conjunction “that” (verb + that).

Examples of Indirect Speech

  1. Graduates repeated that they would fulfill their duties and respect their fellowmen with firmness and honesty.
  2. The defendant claimed he was innocent.
  3. Wanting to hear her voice, he decided to call. He greeted and asked who was speaking. On the other side, someone responded to the greeting and asked sympathetically who the person wanted to talk to.

Transposition from Direct to Indirect Discourse

In the following examples we will see the changes made in order to shape the speech according to the intended intention.

Direct speech Indirect speech
Necessary leave for a few moments. (stated in the 1st person) Said that I needed to leave for a while. (stated in the 3rd person)
i am the person he spoke to just now. (stated in the present) Said who was the person he had just spoken to. (phrased in imperfect)
No read the newspaper today. (stated in past perfect tense) I said no had read the newspaper. (uttered in the past tense more than perfect)
What will make relatively on that subject? (statement in the future of the present) asked me what would make relatively on that subject. (uttered in past tense)
don't call me more! (stated in imperative mode) He requested not to call him more. (uttered in subjunctive mode)
This it's not pleasant. (demonstrative pronoun in 1st person) She said that that one it wasn't pleasant. (demonstrative pronoun in 3rd person)
we live very well on here. (adverb of place on here) said they lived very well there. (adverb of place there)

Free Indirect Speech

In free indirect speech there is a fusion of types of speech (direct and indirect), that is, there are interventions by the narrator as well as the speech of the characters.

There are no marks that show the change of speech. Therefore, the lines of the characters and the narrator - who knows everything that goes on in the characters' thoughts - can be confused.

Free Indirect Speech Characteristics

  • Syntactic freedom.
  • Adherence of the narrator to the character.

Examples of Free Indirect Speech

  1. He did what he thought necessary. I wasn't sorry, but I felt a weight. Perhapsnoyou havebeenenoughfairwithatkids…
  2. The alarm went off a little earlier. Let's gothere,meknowwhatI can!
  3. Dawn rained. Well,thereI willmepassOmorningattendingtelevision!

In the highlighted sentences, the speeches are direct, although the change in the narrator's speech to that of the character was not signaled.

Entrance Exam Exercises with Feedback

1. (Fatec-1995) "She insisted: - Give me this paper."

In transposing the character's speech to indirect speech, the correct alternative is:

a) She insisted that I give that role there.
b) She insisted on giving me that role there.
c) She insisted on giving me that role there.
d) She insisted that I give her this role there.
e) She insisted that I give her that role there.

Alternative e) She insisted that I give her that role there.

2. (Fuvest-2000) Sinhá Vitória said that, but Fabiano grunted, frowned, finding the phrase extravagant. Birds killing oxen and goats, what a memory! He eyed the woman suspiciously, thought she was freaking out.

(Graciliano Ramos, Dry lives)

One of the characteristics of the style of Dried lives is the use of free indirect speech, which occurs in the excerpt:

a) “Ms. Vitória said that”.
b) “Fabiano grunted”.
c) “he frowned”.
d) “what a memory”.
e) “looked at the woman”.

Alternative d) “what a memory”.

3. (Fuvest-2003) A man comes walking through a park when he suddenly finds himself seven years old. He's in his forties, early forties. Suddenly he finds himself kicking a ball near a bench where his nanny is knitting. There's no doubt it's him. He recognizes his own face, he recognizes the bank and the nanny. He has a vague memory of that scene. One day he was playing ball in the park when suddenly a man approached and… The man approached himself. He kneels down, puts his hands on your shoulders and looks into your eyes. His eyes fill with tears.

He feels something in his chest. What a thing is life. What a worse thing is the weather. How innocent I was. How clean my eyes were. The man tries to say something but cannot find what to say. Just hug yourself, long. Then he walks away, crying, not looking back. The boy keeps looking at his departing figure. He also recognized himself. And he keeps thinking, annoyed: When I'm forty, forty-something, how sentimental I'm going to be!

(Luís Fernando Veríssimo, Comedies to read at school)

Free indirect speech is employed in the following passage:

a) What a thing is life. What a worse thing is the weather.
b) he Recognizes his own face, recognizes the bank and the nanny. He has a vague memory of that scene.
c) A man comes walking through a park when he suddenly finds himself seven years old.
d) The man tries to say something but cannot find what to say. Just hug yourself, long.
e) The boy keeps looking at his figure as he walks away.

Alternative a) What is life. What a worse thing is the weather.

4. (Fuvest-2007) "‘ Very much! ’, he said when someone asked him if he liked a certain painting."

If the question referred to in the excerpt were presented in direct speech, the verb form corresponding to "liked" would be:

a) liked.
b) liked.
c) liked.
d) will like it.
and I would like.

Alternative c) liked.

5. (FGV-2003) Check the alternative where indirect speech occurs.

a) He asked what to do with so much old book.
b) It was late. The noise of the crickets was not enough to muffle Delfino's footsteps. Was he armed? Surely he would be. It was necessary to be careful.
c) Who would be able to commit such recklessness?
d) The paint on the clothes had already faded when the producer decided to put them in the dryer.
e) Was it day first then? He couldn't believe it.

Alternative a) Asked what to do with so much old book.

Read too:

  • Narration
  • Narrative text
  • Narrative Focus
  • Narrative Elements
  • Language Functions
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