More Punctuation Questions: Commas

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MatthewTM
 
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Re: More Punctuation Questions: Commas

Postby MatthewTM » Mon Jan 07, 2013 5:53 am

j t hall wrote:I specifically need to know about use in dialogues. For example: "I would never do that", he said. Does the comma come before or after the "? If it's a declarative sentence (like the example), do you even use a comma there? What's the rule here? The link given is for regular sentences, not dialog problems.


Looks like I've been doing this wrong. :( According to http://www.bookshedonline.co.uk/knowhow ... unctuation it should be:

"I would never do that," he said. (all one sentence, no periods except at the end so a comma replaces that in the dialogue)

If we were to try out the other rules:

"I would never do that!" he said. (exclamation marks and question marks are allowed mid-sentence)

"I swear to you," he said, "that I would never do that." (continued sentence of dialogue = still only one period)

"I would never do that," he said. "How could you even ask?" (two sentences of dialogue means a period after 'he said' – so two sentences in the actual paragraph)

Is that right? And are you always supposed to put the 'he said' at the end of the first sentence of dialogue? This would avoid, for instance:

"I would never do that. How could you even ask?" he said.

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pls
 
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Re: More Punctuation Questions: Commas

Postby pls » Mon Jan 07, 2013 8:57 am

MatthewTM wrote:… Is that right? And are you always supposed to put the 'he said' at the end of the first sentence of dialogue? This would avoid, for instance:

"I would never do that. How could you even ask?" he said.


Placing the dialogue tag after the first sentence in dialogue isn't a hard and fast rule, but doing so avoids some awkwardness, especially if the first two sentences are very short or not even sentences: "No! I didn't do it!" he screamed.

Some writers place dialogue tags at the beginning of a paragraph, which I feel is an awkward practicei: He screamed, "No! I didn't do it!" (A dialogue tag shouldn't be placed at the most important part of a sentence or paragraph, the beginning, unless there's an overwhelming necessity to do so.)

A dialogue tag placed at the end of a paragraph of dialogue is just awkward, not to mention useless.

On the other hand, dialogue tags are overused and can easily be avoided altogether: He shook his head. "No! I didn't do it!"

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TerryRodgers
 
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Re: More Punctuation Questions: Commas

Postby TerryRodgers » Mon Jan 07, 2013 10:28 am

pls wrote:
MatthewTM wrote:… Is that right? And are you always supposed to put the 'he said' at the end of the first sentence of dialogue? This would avoid, for instance:

"I would never do that. How could you even ask?" he said.


Placing the dialogue tag after the first sentence in dialogue isn't a hard and fast rule, but doing so avoids some awkwardness, especially if the first two sentences are very short or not even sentences: "No! I didn't do it!" he screamed.

Some writers place dialogue tags at the beginning of a paragraph, which I feel is an awkward practicei: He screamed, "No! I didn't do it!" (A dialogue tag shouldn't be placed at the most important part of a sentence or paragraph, the beginning, unless there's an overwhelming necessity to do so.)

A dialogue tag placed at the end of a paragraph of dialogue is just awkward, not to mention useless.

On the other hand, dialogue tags are overused and can easily be avoided altogether: He shook his head. "No! I didn't do it!"


I agree with Paul. The emotion of the sentence is what is important. If you use a dialogue tag at the end, most of the time, as a reader, I don't really notice they're there. Placing a tag in the beginning puts focus on the tag and slows the action down. At least, I think it does. I still use tags, just sparingly. I use them to break up long conversations between more than two people. When you do use them, this thread has done a great job in showing how to puncuate them correctly. Thank you everyone. :D

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DrG2
 
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Re: More Punctuation Questions: Commas

Postby DrG2 » Mon Jan 07, 2013 4:07 pm

You can also put the dialogue tag where there is a natural break.

"I wouldn't," said John, "do that."
reads much differently than:
"I wouldn't do that," said John.

Basie
 
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Re: More Punctuation Questions: Commas

Postby Basie » Mon Jan 07, 2013 4:47 pm

John didn't budge. "I wouldn't do that."
John stepped forward, squaring his shoulders. "I wouldn't do that."

Question off the beaten track:

John's reaction in both scenarios emphasize his comment while offering two different takes though neither one requires a tag. I wouldn't place the dialogue on a separate line.

If I wrote a few sentences describing John's reaction (eyes of bystanders upon him, etc.), does this require a separate line for dialogue?

This post may need to be moved or ignored. Train of thought....
Writing is excessive drudgery: it dims your sight, crooks your back, twists your stomach & your sides....Three fingers write, but the whole body labours. ~Eighth Century Scribe~

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TerryRodgers
 
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Re: More Punctuation Questions: Commas

Postby TerryRodgers » Mon Jan 07, 2013 7:26 pm

DrG2 wrote:You can also put the dialogue tag where there is a natural break.

"I wouldn't," said John, "do that."
reads much differently than:
"I wouldn't do that," said John.



This question is not just for DrG2. I'm curious how others word dialogue tags when they use them. The examples DrG2 gave with said John I have seen, just not as much. Is this a geographic thing? I've always written it as, John said. To me, it doesn't sound right or flow off my tongue putting the said before John. Like I said, I've seen it written this way in published novels, and there's nothing I can see wrong with it.

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pls
 
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Re: More Punctuation Questions: Commas

Postby pls » Mon Jan 07, 2013 8:33 pm

Basie wrote:… If I wrote a few sentences describing John's reaction (eyes of bystanders upon him, etc.), does this require a separate line for dialogue?

This post may need to be moved or ignored. Train of thought....


Separate subjects should be divided into separate sentences, paragraphs, etc. Two different pieces of dialogue from two different speakers should normally be placed in two separate paragraphs. But:

John looked around him and saw at least a half-dozen hands on or near gun butts. "Okay, guys. You win," he muttered.

or …

John looked around him and saw at least a half-dozen hands on or near gun butts.

"Okay, guys. You win."

Either would be "correct", but the second emphasizes John's reaction. So in some cases a writer can break or bend "rules" for a more effective presentation.

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pls
 
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Re: More Punctuation Questions: Commas

Postby pls » Mon Jan 07, 2013 8:34 pm

pls wrote:
Basie wrote:… If I wrote a few sentences describing John's reaction (eyes of bystanders upon him, etc.), does this require a separate line for dialogue?

This post may need to be moved or ignored. Train of thought....


Separate subjects should be divided into separate sentences, paragraphs, etc. Two different pieces of dialogue from two different speakers should normally be placed in two separate paragraphs. But:

John looked around him and saw at least a half-dozen hands on or near gun butts. "Okay, guys. You win," he muttered.

or …

John looked around him and saw at least a half-dozen hands on or near gun butts.

"Okay, guys. You win."

Either would be "correct", but the second emphasizes John's reaction. So in some cases a writer can break or bend "rules" for a more effective presentation.


And … "John said" is more common, but again "said John" could be used, depending upon whether you want to emphasize "John" or "said" by placing the word at the beginning of the sentence.

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ryankoz
 
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Re: More Punctuation Questions: Commas

Postby ryankoz » Thu Jan 10, 2013 11:49 pm

The only time I can think that it's dire to remember a comma:

1. Let's eat dad.
2. Let's eat, dad.

One comma just changed the entire context. lol

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TerryRodgers
 
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Re: More Punctuation Questions: Commas

Postby TerryRodgers » Tue Jan 15, 2013 7:46 pm

I have another comma question. I know when you address one person, the comma is place before or after the name depending on the sentence.

"It is a pleasure to meet you, Jim."
"John, the pleasure is all mine."

What about if someone is addressing two people in the same sentence.

"It is a pleasure to meet you, Sergeant Fox and Lieutenant Johnson."
"Thank you, Sergeant Fox and Lieutenant Johnson, for meeting with me."

Are the last two sentences correct?

*Disclaimer: These are only sentence examples for the knowledge of placing commas.* :lol:

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