For a start compare these two images and say, where the person says with the direct speech (прямая речь) and where with the reported speech (косвенная речь).
She said, “I’ll think about this”. She said that she will think about this
As you can see from the example the direct speech is when we quote somebody. For example:
- Мама сказала: “Сегодня я не хочу работать!” – My mom said, “I don’t want to work today”.
- Папа сказал: “Вставай! Хватит спать!” – My father said, “Get up! Stop sleeping!”
- Друг спросил: “Ты пойдёшь со мной в бар?” – My friend asked, “do you go to the bar with me?”
In the reported speech we change people’s words a little. It is not a quote anymore:
- Мама сказала, что она не хочет сегодня работать. – My mom said that she doesn’t want to work today..
- Папа сказал, чтобы я вставал. – My father said to me to get up.
- Друг спросил, пойду ли я в бар с ним. – My friend asked me if I go to the bar with him.
So as you can see from the examples above to make reported speech in Russian you need to use the conjunction “что” (that) for retelling somebody else’s speech.
- Ты сказал мне, что хочешь пойти со мной. – You told me that you wanted to go with me.
But if they talked to you using a verb in the Imperative Mood, you should use the conjunction “чтобы” (that for imperatives).
- Мама сказала, чтобы я купил хлеб. – My mom told me to buy a bread.
If they asked something, it is better to use the particle “ли” after the verb:
- Мама спросила, хочу ли я ужинать. – My mom asked me if I want to have dinner.
But if they asked something using the question word (кто? что? где?когда? почему? как? etc.) – do not use “ли”, just use the question word:
Мама спросила, почему я не хочу есть. – My mom asked me, why I don’t want to eat.
These two conjunctions are both translated as “and” but the difference is in their usage. Look at the examples and try to figure out when we use each one.
As you can see, we use “и” when we have same things. Look at the example 2 – she is saying, “I am Maria and that’s Maria too“. When we have something different we use “а“. Look at the example 1: She is saying, “I am Maria and that’s Max.” (Max is a different name from Maria).
Also you should know that we use the conjunction “а” at the beginning of question sentences like:
А: Как вас зовут? – What is your name?
Б: Ирина. А вас? – Irina. And your?