by Shauna Bolton
You wanted help figuring out commas, and here it is.
Rule 5—Using Commas in Dialogue
- Use a comma to separate dialogue from a speech tag.
Example 1: Helena said, “I don’t believe you.”
Example 2: “I don’t believe you,” Helena said.
- Put the comma inside the closing quotations before adding a speech tag.
Example 3: “I don’t believe you,” Helena said, “and Mom doesn’t either.”
- When the speech tag interrupts the dialogue, use commas before and after the speech tag to separate it from both parts of the dialogue.
- Put the punctuation end mark (period, question mark, exclamation point) inside the quotation marks.
- Indirect quotations, often introduced by “that” or “if,” DO NOT use commas.
Example 4: Helena said that she didn’t believe you.
Mom said that you can’t go if you don’t clean your room.
- There is no comma between “said” and “that.”
- In colloquial speech, “that” is usually omitted.
- Helena said she didn’t believe you.
- Mom said you can’t go if you don’t clean your room.
Example 5: Mom said if you don’t clean your room, you can’t go.
- There is no comma between “said” and “if.”
- The “that” between “said” and “if” is omitted.
- There is a comma between “room” and “you” because the indirect quote is a complex sentence with the dependent clause coming first.
- Mom said if you don’t clean your room, you can’t go.
Leave your comments or questions at the end of this page and Shauna or I will be happy to respond.