Dialog vs. Dialogue (Grammar Rules)

Learn when to use dialog vs. dialogue on with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.
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This week's grammar rules post is focused on the correct word to use when referring to conversations between two or more people. Is it dialog or dialogue? Or is it both?

(Grammar rules for writers.)

So let's jump into the dialog vs. dialogue conversation.


Dialog vs. Dialogue

Dialog does not have an entry in my big old Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary. So it's not a word, right? Wrong, because it does show up as an alternate spelling under the listing for dialogue. So both words are legit, right? I'm not so sure they should be.

If you check out this post on dialog and dialogue, you'll see that usage of dialog really got jumpstarted by computer terminology and that the usage that spiked at the turn of the century has been dropping precipitously since. So I really think dialog should not be used, even if it's technically a possibility. (For instance, catalog and catalogue are both technically allowable, but catalog is the only real way to spell this endangered advertising book in the U.S.)

Dialogue, of course, does have a listing in my dictionary and is the preferred spelling in several sources online. It is most frequently used to refer to an oral or written conversation between two or more people (or characters). It's also possible to verb this particular noun.

Make sense?

Here's an example for reference:

Correct: He wrote incredible descriptions and action, but the dialogue was rather dull.
Incorrect: He wrote incredible descriptions and action, but the dialog was rather dull.

It will not surprise me if there's a dialog contrarian or two in the audience, but until further notice, dialogue is the best way to refer to conversations between your characters and each other.


Grammar and Mechanics

No matter what type of writing you do, mastering the fundamentals of grammar and mechanics is an important first step to having a successful writing career.

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