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Punctuating Speech (1 Viewer)

Mark Twain't

Senior Member
One thing I've had difficulty with recently is the punctuation of speech. To give you a couple of examples:

‘Well, I don’t know about you,’ he replied, ‘but I’m about to get up and grab some breakfast, I’m starving.’

Thomas’s face dropped. ‘What?’ he said, turning to look at Henderson. ‘We thought that the bodyguard had shot you.'

My thinking is that, in the first one, both parts are part of the same sentence but, in the second one, they're two separate sentences (albeit the first is just one word) but I've been told this is wrong and that there should be comma after "Henderson" and the "We" should not be capitalised.

Am I right or not?

Thanks
 

Phil Istine

Staff member
Global Moderator
The first one as written. The second one is less clear. I think I would use the comma after Henderson, but capitalise the We at the start of the next part - effectively a hybrid of what you would do and what you've been told. However, if the second part of the speech was not starting a sentence, I would begin with lower case (excepting the usual caveats about proper nouns etc).

You don't ask about this but I would use double quotes around the speech because that is how I was taught at school very early in my education. I've since come to realise that this is not carved in stone; a lot seems to depend on when and where someone is taught. Mine was UK in the 1960s.
 

Mark Twain't

Senior Member
The first one as written. The second one is less clear. I think I would use the comma after Henderson, but capitalise the We at the start of the next part - effectively a hybrid of what you would do and what you've been told. However, if the second part of the speech was not starting a sentence, I would begin with lower case (excepting the usual caveats about proper nouns etc).

You don't ask about this but I would use double quotes around the speech because that is how I was taught at school very early in my education. I've since come to realise that this is not carved in stone; a lot seems to depend on when and where someone is taught. Mine was UK in the 1960s.

Thanks

Regarding quotes, the reason I use single quotes is that, having read and watched a lot of online stuff about writing over the past year, one thing that I've learned is the single quotes are used in the UK and double quotes are used in the US and, looking at books from authours of both regions, that seems to be the case, amongst the books I've read at least.
 

TheMightyAz

Senior Member
Thanks

Regarding quotes, the reason I use single quotes is that, having read and watched a lot of online stuff about writing over the past year, one thing that I've learned is the single quotes are used in the UK and double quotes are used in the US and, looking at books from authours of both regions, that seems to be the case, amongst the books I've read at least.

I used to be single quotes for speech and double quotes for thought. It's more widely seen as double quotes for speech so I ended up going with that.
 

Mark Twain't

Senior Member
I used to be single quotes for speech and double quotes for thought. It's more widely seen as double quotes for speech so I ended up going with that.

I tend to use italics for thought but that might just be me. I get the feeling that might be a personal preference think, not sure whether that is a right/wrong thing. It reads better to me that way so I can only hope that my readers would find it as easy, both of them. :lol:
 

TheMightyAz

Senior Member
I tend to use italics for thought but that might just be me. I get the feeling that might be a personal preference think, not sure whether that is a right/wrong thing. It reads better to me that way so I can only hope that my readers would find it as easy, both of them. :lol:

Yeah, I use italics for thought too sometimes. The problem I find with single quotes for speech is sometimes they get buried in the text. It might just be my eyesight of course. :(
 

Phil Istine

Staff member
Global Moderator
Thanks

Regarding quotes, the reason I use single quotes is that, having read and watched a lot of online stuff about writing over the past year, one thing that I've learned is the single quotes are used in the UK and double quotes are used in the US and, looking at books from authours of both regions, that seems to be the case, amongst the books I've read at least.

That does indeed appear to be the way these days, but in the 1960s (in the UK) I was taught differently. I even remember the teacher calling them 66 and 99 for starting and ending of speech, but modern technology and some fonts make the beginning and end marks look identical. Perhaps the single speech mark is a result of technology.
Although the convention for single speech marks seems to dominate now, I've struggled to lose my early habits :)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quotation_mark
 

Mark Twain't

Senior Member
Yeah, I use italics for thought too sometimes. The problem I find with single quotes for speech is sometimes they get buried in the text. It might just be my eyesight of course. :(

Yes, I can see what you're saying. The writing software I use has a linguistic focus function which allows me to grey out anything that isn't speech and it sometimes gets fooled if there is a possessive within speech, eg; 'Tracy pulled Elizabeth's hair'.

As an aside, I have limited sensation in my fingers and type one handed. Using single quotes is easier as I don't need to press that pesky shift key.
 

Mark Twain't

Senior Member
That does indeed appear to be the way these days, but in the 1960s (in the UK) I was taught differently. I even remember the teacher calling them 66 and 99 for starting and ending of speech, but modern technology and some fonts make the beginning and end marks look identical. Perhaps the single speech mark is a result of technology.
Although the convention for single speech marks seems to dominate now, I've struggled to lose my early habits :)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quotation_mark

Yes, I do remember learning that way in the 70s as well. I wish I could remember the online learning course whose videos I watched last year.
 

Taylor

Friends of WF
I use double quotes for speech, italics for inner thoughts, and single quotes for emphasis or within double quotes.

I would put a period after breakfast.
 
Last edited:

TheMightyAz

Senior Member
Yes, I can see what you're saying. The writing software I use has a linguistic focus function which allows me to grey out anything that isn't speech and it sometimes gets fooled if there is a possessive within speech, eg; 'Tracy pulled Elizabeth's hair'.

As an aside, I have limited sensation in my fingers and type one handed. Using single quotes is easier as I don't need to press that pesky shift key.

Oh, I see. I wonder, could you set up a hot key?

This is the problem I see with the conversions we're discussing: If I use italics for thought then any emphasised words that are close to the thought (or in the thought) could be accidentally, on a quick scan, be construed as thought, and any emphasised words within thought are going to be difficult to pull off.

'Yes, I do think you need to change your hat,' she thought.
Yes, I do think you need to change your hat, she thought.

I suppose, in that convention you'd reverse the emphasis, but it starts to get messy in my opinion:

Yes, I do think you need to change your hat, she thought.

Using double quotes opens the options more, I think.
 

Mark Twain't

Senior Member
That does indeed appear to be the way these days, but in the 1960s (in the UK) I was taught differently. I even remember the teacher calling them 66 and 99 for starting and ending of speech, but modern technology and some fonts make the beginning and end marks look identical. Perhaps the single speech mark is a result of technology.
Although the convention for single speech marks seems to dominate now, I've struggled to lose my early habits :)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quotation_mark

Yes, I learned that way in the 70s (UK). Wish I could find the source of the videos I watched, they were very useful.
 

Mark Twain't

Senior Member
Oh, I see. I wonder, could you set up a hot key?

This is the problem I see with the conversions we're discussing: If I use italics for thought then any emphasised words that are close to the thought (or in the thought) could be accidentally, on a quick scan, be construed as thought, and any emphasised words within thought are going to be difficult to pull off.

'Yes, I do think you need to change your hat,' she thought.
Yes, I do think you need to change your hat, she thought.

I suppose, in that convention you'd reverse the emphasis, but it starts to get messy in my opinion:

Yes, I do think you need to change your hat, she thought.

Using double quotes opens the options more, I think.

Thanks. It's very interesting the way people look at things differently.
 

TheMightyAz

Senior Member
Thanks. It's very interesting the way people look at things differently.

At the end of the day, whichever convention you use, all that matters is you're consistent with it. I fight against using American spellings and stick with British spelling, but I know for certain I'll likely change that if I'm lucky enough to self publish on Amazon at some point. Many British writers use American spelling because if they don't, they're work constantly gets flagged by reviewers as having spelling mistakes. America is the biggest audience.
 

Phil Istine

Staff member
Global Moderator
Yes, I can see what you're saying. The writing software I use has a linguistic focus function which allows me to grey out anything that isn't speech and it sometimes gets fooled if there is a possessive within speech, eg; 'Tracy pulled Elizabeth's hair'.

As an aside, I have limited sensation in my fingers and type one handed. Using single quotes is easier as I don't need to press that pesky shift key.

Yes, I can see that restricted dexterity would be an influence over which choice you make. I imagine I would probably make the same choice.
 

Matchu

Senior Member
[CITIZEN BOUNTY MOD. CITIZEN ARREST IN PROGRESS]

above ABOVE post container of grand cliche/idiom ‘end of day’ in game of two halves issue. Formal informal request CEASE & DESIST see parochialweb ‘99 rules.
 

Phil Istine

Staff member
Global Moderator
Oh, I see. I wonder, could you set up a hot key?

This is the problem I see with the conversions we're discussing: If I use italics for thought then any emphasised words that are close to the thought (or in the thought) could be accidentally, on a quick scan, be construed as thought, and any emphasised words within thought are going to be difficult to pull off.

'Yes, I do think you need to change your hat,' she thought.
Yes, I do think you need to change your hat, she thought.

I suppose, in that convention you'd reverse the emphasis, but it starts to get messy in my opinion:

Yes, I do think you need to change your hat, she thought.

Using double quotes opens the options more, I think.


Although it seems a lot more fluid than I once realised, I was taught double marks for speech and single marks for thoughts. It's only since word processors have been around more that I've become aware of italics for thoughts. I'm making an assumption that this might be because italics is a little more difficult if writing by hand, so was used far less when people used pens more.
 

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