How to Punctuate Dialogue Correctly

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When it comes to punctuating dialogue correctly, everyone should follow a few basics. In this article, we will take a look at the correct way to punctuate dialogue, including some examples to help you with punctuating your own dialogue. Following these simple tips ensures that your dialogue is properly punctuated and easy to read.

The first thing to keep in mind when punctuating dialogue is that each new speaker gets their own line.

This is pretty straightforward – if someone else starts talking, start a new line. For example:

“I’m going to the store,” John said.

“Okay, I’ll come with you,” Jane replied.

See how each new person gets their own line? This makes it easy to follow who is saying what.

Another thing to keep in mind is that dialogue always starts with a capital letter, regardless of where it falls in the sentence. For example:

“I don’t want to go,” John said.

should be:

“I don’t want to go,” John said.

This seems like a small mistake, but it can make your dialogue look very unprofessional if you don’t fix it.

Finally, remember to end your dialogue with proper punctuation. There are a few different ways to end a sentence when using dialogue. A lot of it depends on where you are putting the dialogue tag. For example:

“I’m running really late,” he said. “I don’t know if I’ll make it in time.”

This sentence has a dialogue tag in the middle of the speech. This can be used when the piece of dialogue can be split in a natural way. When writing a speech this way, be sure to use a comma after the first piece of dialogue and a full stop after the dialogue tag. Then, use your quotation marks and a capital letter to start the next dialogue, and finish the dialogue with a full stop and another quotation mark.

This piece of dialogue can be written in another way:

“I’m running really late. I don’t know if I’ll make it in time,” he said.

This is just the same piece of dialogue without the break in the middle. This still makes sense grammatically. There are other ways to end dialogue, such as exclamation marks and question marks, which can be used in the same way.

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“Who is at the door?” she asked.

“The dog is running away!” he exclaimed.

In both of these sentences, you don’t need to capitalise the first letter of the dialogue tag, as the question mark or exclamation mark isn’t the end of the current sentence. Just make sure that you are still using a full stop after the dialogue tag. 

This may seem like a lot to remember, but once you get the hang of it, punctuating dialogue correctly will become second nature. Just take your time and proofread your work carefully, and you’ll be fine.

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