What is an indirect quote? Here are some examples.
- Sia said that she was really tired.
- Riley asked me for a pencil.
- April told the dog to get off the couch.
- Donald Trump urged Alabama voters to choose Luther Strange.
What is a direct quote?
- Sia said, “I’m tired.”
- “Hey, how about forking over a pencil, Dude?” asked Riley.
- “Jump down this second, you naughty pooch!” April yelled at her dog.
- “Big day in Alabama. Vote for Luther Strange, he will be great!” tweeted Donald Trump.
Why are direct quotes usually better?
- The middle man is removed. The reader can decide for himself what the speaker or writer actually said and meant.
- The personality of the speaker often shows through the use of formal or informal vocabulary and sentence structure.
- The vocabulary is sometimes more precise or colorful.
- The reader experiences the immediacy of an event.
Are indirect quotes ever okay? Yes, of course. Sometimes indirect quotes are even preferred, such as
- If a speaker / reporter needs to be brief. Sometimes a paragraph of direct quotes can be reduced to a handful of words.
- If the writer thinks she might be accused of a misquote, an indirect quote can eliminate this problem.
- If the writer wants to hide the actual words used because the speaker used foul language, grammatical errors or anything which might show the speaker in a bad light, paraphrasing can eliminate these problems.
- If the identity of the speaker needs to be hidden, but could be learned from the way he speaks, then paraphrasing provides cover.
- If the writer doesn’t remember the exact words or wants to summarize them, then indirect quotes work well.
Bottom line: Use direct quotes when you can. If you write with direct quotes, your writing is likely to sparkle.