Quotation marks have a variety of uses.
- “I’m not going tonight,” he announced.
- “But you’re the MC!” she protested.
Not every line of dialogue needs a tag. Conversation back and forth between two speakers should have an initial tag. An extended conversation might have another tag later to clarify who is speaking.
- “What time is it?” the passenger asked the stewardess.
- “It’s three minutes to eight.”
- “Then we should soon be arriving in Chicago.”
- “Very soon.”
- “Do you know what the temperature is there?”
- “No, but I can find out,” she responded, heading for the cockpit.
- I don’t want to go to the party.He took off his tie.
- She saw him taking off his tie. But you’re the MC! You have to go!
Punctuation with quotation marks
Commas and periods
- “Don’t ever do that again,” she threatened. “You don’t want to know what will happen to you.”
- “I didn’t do that in the first place,” he replied. “That’s not something I would do.”
- I don’t remember him asking, “When did you do that?”
- If he did, I would have replied, “What’s it to you?”
Dialogue tag as question/exclamation
- When did she say, “I’m not coming”?
- Why did they respond, “It doesn’t matter”?
Both spoken words and dialogue tag as questions/exclamations
- Did she understand that I asked, “When are you going?”
- When will he ask, “Will you marry me?”
Quotations within quotations
- His face grew red. “I never said, ‘I will write the letter.’ That was your idea.”
- Beth remembered, “Your exact words were ‘Well, if somebody has to do it, I will.’ ”
Spoken words more than one paragraph
Each new paragraph should begin with an opening quotation mark.
Example (each paragraph shortened)
- “I can’t tell you how much …
- “Then he hit me with a …
- “And I responded with …”
They are usually introduced with a sentence ending in a colon.
Lou Gehrig, when retiring from baseball because of his illness, spoke of his blessings:
Fans, for the past two weeks, you have been reading about a bad break I got. Yet today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth. I have been in ballparks for seventeen years and have never received anything but kindness and encouragement from you fans.
Look at these grand men. …
Euphemisms, words used out of the normal way, words implying doubt
- Twenty years ago, people “died.” Today, they “pass on.”
- So it was an “accident” that he ran into his former employer’s car?
- Johnny Cash’s popular hit, “I Walk the Line,” is in his album With His Hot and Blue Guitar.
- The Complete Collection of Poems by Edgar Allan Poeincludes “The City in the Sea” and “Eulalie.”
- A “santur” is a variety of a zither, played by striking the strings with special hammers.
- November 1, the day after Halloween, is celebrated in the Catholic Church and others as “All Saints’ Day.”
- El Día de los Muertos, “The Day of the Dead,” is a family celebration in Mexico.
- She only knew five words in Japanese: ichi, ni, san, shi, go (“one, two, three, four, five”).
- Dwight G. “Ike” Eisenhower was elected President after World War II.
- One of the most famous outlaws of the Old West was Henry “Billy the Kid” McCarty.
- Benjamin took second place in the spelling bee because he left out the second “e” in “serviceable.”
- Jesse’s father was delighted to see an “A” on the report card.
- The box measured 2’3” by 1’2”.
- According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the tallest man on earth is 8’2.8” tall. (I wonder how tall his parents are.)