🏁 Use speech marks to show someone was speaking, but don’t forget to put the other punctuation you still need inside them,

‘I don’t know what to do next,’ said Karen, ‘because I can’t decide on a good job for the future!’

Just remember, there is almost always some kind of punctuation before the last speech mark of a pair.

📲 💻You can use this link to a Google Form so you can test yourself.

🔆 If you get how to use them, then go to Skill 40.

‘Don’t worry, I know what I’m doing!’ shouted Josh.

🛠 Need more? Read on.

Speech marks are a bit tricky to use at first until you get the hang of where to put all the extra marks you need on the page, and how this affects all the normal punctuation you still have to use. There are several ways to do this but here we are looking at what we call direct speech. You also need to decide if you’re using single (‘) or double (“) ones; whichever you choose, stick with them and try not to mix them up. In this guide we’re using double ones for the rest of this section (speech marks are also called inverted commas and quotation marks). Below are some ways they get used.

1 To put someone’s speech at the end of the sentence, after you’ve told us something about them or their situation:
Dale looked around him and said, “You know, I’d really like a Ferrari.”
Note that the first word in the speech, you, has a capital letter even though it follows a comma!

There’s a video about this way of using them here. It’s aimed at younger students but very clear:
💻📺 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6-YFmLctwDY

2 To wrap around something someone has said, making sure there’s a comma before you tell us who said it, which goes INSIDE the last speech mark, leaving the ‘said’ part until the end. Note the ‘said’ word starts with a small (lower case) letter:
“I’d like a Ferrari,” said Dale.

3 To separate a single sentence someone has said into two parts, while pausing in the middle to tell us who is saying it:
“I’d like a Ferrari,” said Dale, “but I’m not sure which one.”

4 To separate two sentences someone has said, while stopping at the end of the first one to tell us who is saying it:
“I’d like a Ferrari,” said Dale. “I’m just not sure which one.”

5 To help make clear in a conversation who is saying what, while remembering to drop a line each time the speaker changes:
“I’d like a Ferrari,” said Dale. “I’m just not sure which one.”
“I’d go for an Aston Martin if I were you,” said Carla. “They’re much classier.”
“I’m not sure,” disagreed Dale. “What’s better than a red 458 Italia?”
“A green DB5!” laughed Carla, who knew quite a lot about cars herself.
Notice we can also add a bit of variety by using words other than ‘said,’ and even add more detail about the speakers.

6 To keep the speakers clear in a conversation and use a pattern of dropping a line for each change of speaker, so that we don’t have to say who is speaking each time:
“You only like Astons because you fancy Daniel Craig,” said Dale.
“That’s not true,” replied Carla, “and anyway how are you going to afford a Ferrari when you’re still at school?”
“I’m going to work hard, save up, and walk into a Ferrari dealer when I’m older and pay for it in cash!”
“Dream on. You’ll be flipping burgers for the next ten years at least!”
“No I won’t, I’m going to college.”
“You’d better get your grades up then!”

7 You can also use them when you’re quoting directly from a text:
Shakespeare wrote a fictional account of the Scottish leader Macbeth in his play, but it wasn’t accurate at all. As Bob Hape commented:
“Almost nothing in the play was true in real life. The man he based it on was quite popular and didn’t assassinate anyone.”

There are other ways to use them but if you know these ones above you’ve covered the main ones.

🚦Time for a last couple of things?

🎯 💻 There are some more tests here:




If you’ve followed all the skills up to here you should find that your literacy has improved a lot and you have much more confidence when you write. All your hard work should be paying off each time you write, and you should feel more confident you can avoid all the mistakes we’ve tried to highlight!

This site also has an A-Z homophones menu so you can look up some other issues as they come up.




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