1. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    Punctuation Punctation in speech marks?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Oscar Leigh, Apr 10, 2016.

    So, in the past I never realised that when you have a sentence like "You've got to be blood kidding me" you say; 'You've got to be bloody kidding me," she sighed, rather than have a fullstop.
    Now I'm wondering what exactly are the rules for punctuation in speech marks? Chiefly, what are the rules with "?" and "!".
    Thanks for any help guys. :blowkiss::blowkiss:
     
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  2. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    "I'd like the chicken, please," she said.
    "Do you have chicken?" she asked.
    "I need chicken!" she said.
     
  3. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    Okay so the word afterward is never capitalised? That's interesting considering google docs spell-check keeps trying to capitalize it! :supermad:
     
  4. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's capitalized for beats, but not for tags. The spellcheck probably can't tell the difference.

    Tag: "I'd like the chicken, please," she said.
    Beat: "I'd like the chicken, please." She folded her arms.

    Tag: "Do you have chicken?" she asked.
    Beat: "Do you have chicken?" She leaned on the counter.

    Tag: "I need chicken!" she said.
    Beat: "I need chicken!" She waved her arms frantically.
     
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  5. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    They really should fix that then. And thanks again for the assistance.
     
  6. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    It occurs to me that if you use the comma, it might stop correcting you on those sentences. That is, if you had:

    "I'd like the chicken, please." she said.

    then the spellchecker has to either tell you to capitalize the "she" or tell you to change the period to a comma. Apparently it's coded to do the first.

    But for the ? and !, there would still be ambiguity. It would presumably have to parse what comes after the "she" to try to figure out what was going on.
     
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  7. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    Oh my god, I just realised. You're using "I'd like the chicken" as your example. Well done. :superlaugh:
     
  8. Feo Takahari
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    Feo Takahari Active Member

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    Some more advanced constructions, courtesy of Punctuation Made Simple:

    When the character starts speaking, stops to do something, and then speaks again:

    "I'd like--" she studied the menu for a few seconds "--the chicken, please."

    Some people put a comma after "seconds," but I don't know if that's grammatically correct or not.

    When the character speaks continuously while doing something:

    "I'd like"--she gestured at the menu--"the chicken, please."

    However, Malik on Mythic Scribes has this warning about the latter:

    He recommends using commas instead:

    "I'd like," she gestured at the menu, "the chicken, please."

    Again, I have no idea if that's grammatically acceptable.
     
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  9. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    I'd just say "I'd like the chicken, please." she asked, gesturing at the menu.
     
  10. United
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    In dialogue, the end quotes always go after the exclamation mark and question mark.

    EX with a dialogue tag:

    "Are you going to school today?" she asked.
    Alternatively:
    She asked, "Are you going to school today?"

    "You are insane!" he shouted.
    Alternatively:
    He shouted, "You are insane!"

    --------------------------------------------

    EX with a dialogue beat:

    I stare at him in disbelief. "Are you kidding me?"

    "You disgust me!" She slaps him in the face.

    (NOTE: dialogue beats can go before or after the quote. Placing them on either side determines how readers visual what's being done first and what's being said as a response; vice-versa.)

    -------------------------------------------

    EX with no ? or !:

    "She was supposed to give me five dollars for lunch today," he said.
    Alternatively:
    He said, "She was supposed to give me five dollars for lunch today."

    EX with dialogue tag in-between a quote.

    "Allison," she said, "why haven't you returned your book to the library? You know they charge you ten cents each day after the day it's supposed to be returned."

    (NOTE: if you look at the quote above, you can see that the "why" isn't capitalized. That's because the first word of the quote has already been capitalized---Allison.)

    Hope any of this helped. Good luck!
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2016
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  11. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I can't suppress my need to correct this to:

    "I'd like the chicken, please," she asked, gesturing at the menu.
    or, my preference,
    "I'd like the chicken, please," she said, gesturing at the menu.
     
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  12. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    Oh yeah, I forgot the comma thing! Goddam I wonder why I never knew that?! Did I learn it in primary school and forget it? :unsure::superthink:
     
  13. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    My guess is that nobody taught dialogue punctuation? Nobody ever taught me either fiction writing or news writing in school, and that's where you'd mostly use it.

    Edited to add: Well, OK, they taught me news writing when I took journalism in high school, but nobody ever taught it specifically in English class. That I recall.
     
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  14. Elven Candy
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    Elven Candy Contributing Member

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    Would this be acceptable?
    "I'd like . . ." she gestured at the menu, ". . . the chicken, please."

    I've seen it used mostly when the character pauses in their speech. For example:
    "It was . . ." he shifted, ". . . odd."
     
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  15. Feo Takahari
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    Feo Takahari Active Member

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    You're right that it's meant for pauses, especially long ones. I don't think it works in your first example.
     
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  16. Catrin Lewis
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    What drives me nuts is trying to remember if I should put a comma after an ellipses but before the quotation mark, or leave it out. So far I'm leaving it out, but I'd rather be sure.
     
  17. Elven Candy
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    Elven Candy Contributing Member

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    The comma is left out after an ellipses.
     
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