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Punctuation: Use Commas To Set Off Direct Quotations

Punctuation
A dialogue is a conversation between two or more people. If the speaker (not the listener) in the conversation is identified, their name, or the noun or pronoun used to refer to the speaker, and the verb that refers to their speaking are enclosed within commas.
  1. Mary said, “I dislike concerts because the music is too loud.”
  2. “I dislike concerts because the music is too loud,” she said.
  3. “I dislike concerts,” proclaimed Mary, “because the music is too loud.”

In American English, you should always place a comma or period inside the quotation marks (see red above).

If the quoted speech is a question or an exclamation, a question mark or exclamation mark should be used before the closing speech mark instead of a comma.

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Exercise:

Add commas in the sentences below:

  1. He asked “Is it okay if I’m a couple of minutes late to class today?”
  2. “I’m running behind” he said “and I’m going to be late to class.”
  3. The author said “I need to sell more books to make my quota!”
  4. “The problem is” the author stated “that no one has money anymore to buy books.”
  5. “Where is the emergency room?” he asked the nurse urgently. 
  6. He said “I don’t care.”
  7. “Why” I asked “don’t you care?”
  8. “You can go shopping with me or you can go to a movie alone” I said.
  9. “It is sunny but it is not warm outside” he said.
  10. “It’s sunny but not warm outside” she said.
  11. “I hate you!” he shouted.
  12. “Were you in London last year?” he asked.

Answers:

  1. He asked, “Is it okay if I’m a couple of minutes late to class today?”
  2. “I’m running behind,” he said, “and I’m going to be late to class.”
  3. The author said, “I need to sell more books to make my quota!”
  4. “The problem is,” the author stated, “that no one has money anymore to buy books.”
  5. “Where is the emergency room?” he asked the nurse urgently. (no comma)
  6. He said, “I don’t care.”
  7. “Why,” I asked, “don’t you care?”
  8. “You can go shopping with me, or you can go to a movie alone,” I said.
  9. “It is sunny, but it is not warm outside,” he said.
  10. “It’s sunny but not warm outside,” she said.
  11. “I hate you!” he shouted. (no comma)
  12. “Were you in London last year?” he asked. (no comma)

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