EIGHT EXAMPLES OF PUNCTUATED DIALOGUE.

Standard

1. “After breakfast tomorrow morning we will have to leave early to catch the train.”

RULE: The spoken words and the punctuation go inside the inverted commas.

2.  He said, “After breakfast tomorrow morning we will have to leave early to catch the train.”

RULE: There is a comma AFTER the ‘saying verb’ (e.g. He said), and BEFORE the inverted commas. The dialogue (spoken sentence) begins with a capital letter.

3. “After breakfast tomorrow morning we will have to leave early to catch the train,” he said.

RULE: If the ‘saying verb’ comes after the dialogue, we place a comma at the end of the dialogue. We use a small letter for the “saying verb’ after the dialogue (‘he’ NOT ‘He’).

4. “After breakfast tomorrow morning,” he said, ” we will have to leave early to catch the train.”

RULE: If the ‘saying verb’ interrupts the dialogue, then it is punctuated as above. We use a small letter for the ‘saying verb’. And the second dialogues (which is a continuation of the first) begins with small letter.

5.  “We must get up early tomorrow,” he said. “We’ve a train to catch.”

RULE: The above example has two dialogues (each dialogue is a complete sentence) Small letter for the saying verb.

Second dialogue begins with a capital letter.

6. “We saw your smoke. What have you been doing? Having a war or something?”

Ralph nodded.

“Nobody killed, I hope? Any dead bodies?”

“Only two. And they’ve gone.”

“Two? Killed?”

Ralph nodded again.The officer knew, as a rule, when people were telling the truth. He whistled softly.

RULE: Each speaker is given a new paragraph, no matter how long or short his or her speech may be.

RULE: Start a new paragraph when you switch from the narrative tract to the dialogue and vice versa. (Note: If the narrative tract after the dialogue is about the same speaker of the dialogue, there is usually no need for a new paragraph.)

RULE: Use block form: leave a line blank between paragraphs (speakers).

RULE: Open and close inverted commas only at the beginning and end of the spoken words, even if the speaker talks for the length of a whole paragraph!

7. That was such a frivolous outfit, I thought to myself VS “That is such a frivolous outfit,” I thought to myself.

8. Oh great, Mrs Siew had to ruin my afternoon by appearing at the door with that obnoxious brat of hers, I muttered to myself. VS “Oh great, Mrs Siew has to ruin my afternoon by appearing at the door with that obnoxious brat of hers,” I muttered to myself.

RULE: When writing in the 1st person, your readers hear your thoughts. Therefore you do not need to punctuate your thoughts. You also do not need to punctuate “things” which you say to yourself.

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One response »

  1. Pingback: Punctuating a Dialogue | Froebelian Writers

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