1. TimHarris
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    TimHarris Senior Member

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    Proper use of comma in and inbetween dialog?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by TimHarris, Mar 22, 2013.

    This has puzzled me for a while. This being the proper usage of comma in a sentence where dialog is present. When I read, I have seem some varying placement of comma and period in and between quoations. Let me give an example with a sentence from A Dance with Dragons, which just happened to be the first book I picked up to find an example.

    Here the comma is placed at the end of the quotation, but I am really not sure as to why? I know that american english always puts the commas and periods inside the quotations (With the exception of numbers and single letters). Could this be why? But I also had the notion that it might also mean that Dany is not yet done speaking, and that more is to follow. This is probably reinforced by me seeing this pop up everywhere in the books I read.

    But assuming it is just the american language making an attempt to confuse, would it be proper to write it like this?

    1
    2
    For some reason, number two do not seem right to me. Yet I cant explain why. Is it correct? Is it wrong? If so, why?
     
  2. Darkhorse
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    Darkhorse Member

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    I'm pretty sure they are both fine grammatically. Which one you choose depends on which you think will tell the story better.
     
  3. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    All three of your examples are correct. Your first is a sentence of dialogue that would end with a period (or possibly a comma), but because it comes before a dialogue tag, a comma is used instead. The comma would be there whether the whole unbroken sentence would have a comma at that pinot, or a period. I don't know the history of this convention, but that's the convention. If the first part of the quote had ended with a question mark or exclamation point, those would not have been replaced with a comma.

    Your third example uses a beat, not a tag, so the period is not replaced with a comma. Your second uses a beat and the beat is before the dialogue, so the fact that it's dialogue doesn't affect the punctuation.
     
  4. John Eff
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    John Eff Member

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    A tag forms part of the sentence which includes the dialogue it's tagged to, so you'd use the comma. This applies wherever the tag appears, i.e. whether before, after, or in the middle of the dialogue.

    "These are not apples, Ben," said Dany.
    Dany said, "These are not apples, Ben."
    "These," Dany said, "are not apples, Ben."

    A beat can stand alone, so puntuate with whatever's appropriate.
     
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    all three are correct, as noted by others above...

    in the first example, that is how dialog tags follow a bit of dialog, per US punctuation rules... it would be the same if the sentence is concluded, as you have it, or if it continues, like this:

    the only closing marks that would go inside the " " are ? and !:

    hope this helps clear up your confusion...
     
  6. Revenant
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    Revenant Member

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    The reason why, in your first example, there is a comma after the word "Ben" and not a full stop, is because this is not where the sentence ends. It's where the character who is speaking's sentence ends, but not the author's sentence. The author's full sentence contains the character's full sentence.
     

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