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.
Publish date:

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.

Click to continue.


Dr. Munish Batra and Keith R.A. DeCandido: Entertainment and Outrage

Authors Dr. Munish Batra and Keith R.A. DeCandido explain how they came to co-write their novel and why it's important to them that the readers experience outrage while reading.


Incite vs. Insight (Grammar Rules)

Learn when to use incite vs. insight with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.


Jane K. Cleland: On Writing the Successful Long-Running Series

Award-winning mystery author Jane K. Cleland describes what it's like to write a long-running book series and offers expert advice for the genre writer.

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: #StartWrite, Virtual Conference, and New Courses

This week, we’re excited to announce free resources to start your writing year off well, our Novel Writing Virtual Conference, and more!


20 Most Popular Writing Posts of 2020

We share a lot of writing-related posts throughout the year on the Writer's Digest website. In this post, we've collected the 20 most popular writing posts of 2020.


Carla Malden: Writing With Optimism and Innocence

Screenwriter and author Carla Malden explains why young adult fiction and the '60s go hand-in-hand and how she connected with her main character's voice.


Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Talking About the Work-in-Progress

The Writer's Digest team has witnessed many writing mistakes over the years, so we started this series to help identify them for other writers (along with correction strategies). This week's writing mistake writers make is talking about the work-in-progress.


Greta K. Kelly: Publishing Is a Marathon

Debut author Greta K. Kelly reveals how the idea for her novel sparked and the biggest surprise of her publication journey.

Poetic Forms

Mistress Bradstreet Stanza: Poetic Forms

Poetic Form Fridays are made to share various poetic forms. This week, we look at the Mistress Bradstreet stanza, an invented form of John Berryman.