Punctuation Rules in Direct and Indirect Speech

Of all punctuation marks, the comma, inverted comma (speech marks), question marks and sign of exclamation are widely used in Direct speech. Let’s have a brief look over the function and role of  punctuation marks in direct speech with examples.

Punctuation marks we will study briefly:

  • Inverted comma (speech marks) in indirect speech
  • Comma in reported speech
  • Question marks in direct and indirect speech
  • Sign of exclamation in reported speech.

Inverted Comma (Speech Marks) in Indirect Speech

Quotation marks or speech marks are used to enclose the exact words of a person referred to in speech. It is used when someone’s words are repeated exactly word by word. Take example below:

She said, “I am reading punctuation rules in indirect speech”
He said, ” I teach my students exactly what they want”

Now, Let’s study some more features of speech marks in indirect speech.

Quotation marks in indirect speech are used in pairs:

Quoted marks  have an opening and and end. They enclose the exact statement. See the example below.

He said, “The big fat cat ate the rat.”

First letter of sentence is capitalized:

The starting letter of quoted speech is written in Capital letter.

She said, “The little master asked the big questions.”

Quotation marks can include multiple marks and sentences, in a single pair.

You can quote multiple statement with using other punctuation marks like comma, colon, sign of exclamation etc, in a single pair of quotation marks. Let’s take an example below.

“I would rather like to sit in the air here outside. In fact, I hate sitting inside alone wih doing nothing. In addition to that, I am advised by my parents not to sit in dark and in isolation” he said while drinking water.
“As soon as the wind blew”, he said, “the widows started to make horrible noise.” In addition to that, he said, “all of our room mate woke up out of fear.”

All four punctuation marks of quoted speech are used inside the quotation marks in direct speech. They can’t be used outside of quotation marks.

Take the examples below.

“She has made an agreement with me.” (Full stop used inside the quotation marks)
“I have to think before act,” she said. (comma used inside)
“What should be maximum limit of this?” (question marks included)
“I bet you can’t do this!” she said to me. (Exclamation marks enclosed)

Therefore, in quoted speech you can used comma, period, question mark and sign of exclamation inside quotation marks, in quoted speech.

Quotation marks for long paragraph:

When the speech extend over more than one paragraph, we use quotation marks to highlight the exact words of a single speaker. To quote a dialogue or long speech do not close the quote, instead put a new open quotation mark at the start of each new paragraph. In this way, the reader will be able to know that how quotation marks repeatedly points out the exact words of a single speaker, who is speaking though out the paragraph. That’s how we put quotation marks for long paragraph,speech or dialogue. Let’s take an example below.

“I will not be able to see you again” she said to him, “you better to look for another girl to be your partner”
“Alas! our only hero left us” she said, “I am here with you” said the hero, “you don’t need to worry any more. Ask our people to be hopeful and struggle” he said, “we are at the verge of a great success.”

Usage of Comma in Direct and Indirect Speech:

Comma is used to separate the reported speech and reporting speech. It separates who is saying what. Take an example.

He said, “I am looking good”
She said, “It is fine to go there”

Use comma in place of full stop if the reported speech comes first in direct speech. Take an example.

“I think we should call the doctor”, she said.

If the reported speech comes first and ends with question mark or sign of exclamation, do not use comma. Look the example below:

“What an amazing scenery it is! she said.
“What is the use of Artificial intelligence? she said.

While reporting long paragraph, dialogue or speech, comma is used with quotation marks to separate the reporting speech and reported speech. It splits the quoted marks.

“It is because of the impact of climate change ” said the teacher to students “we are suffering here most. Do you know how we can solve it?” Students became silent and watched at each other for the best possible answers “It is our collective responsibility to find an easy alternative” continued the teacher.

Usage of Question marks in Direct Speech:

Question marks are used at the end of reported speech in direct speech. look at the examples below.

She said, “What is best study method to follow?
He said, “Where can I get these things?

Question marks are replaced with full stop when sentences is changed into indirect speech. Look at the example below.

She said, “How can I forget you name?
She said that how she could forgot his name.

Exclamation Marks in Direct Speech

Exclamation marks are used to express wonder, excitement, enjoy, sorrow or grief. They  are used after interjection, in sentences. Look at the examples below.

He said “Hurrah! the final day is arrived.”
She said, “Alas! our only hope perished”

Exclamation marks are used at the end of sentences to express surprise, excitement or wonder.

She said “What a great idea you have brought!”
He said, “It is an amazing view from window!”



3 thoughts on “Punctuation Rules in Direct and Indirect Speech”

  1. what about asking a question and punctuation.
    For example – when did he say, “I’m having such a good time,”?
    Is my punctuation correct?


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