Punctuation in Dialogue
Dialogue needs punctuation in order to be complete. If the speaker is excited, use an exclamation point, a question mark if they’re confused, and always use quotation marks to show where a quotation begins and ends. Learn how to put punctuation in dialogue with our writing worksheets, cool activities, and lots more. If you’re a teacher or parent, we have help for you in the form of lesson plans and articles.
Fictional and nonfictional writing will often contain transcriptions of conversations between two or more people or characters. While students can indirectly report these conversations, direct dialogue will have more impact on the reader. Direct dialogue, however, also requires special punctuation to identify it.
The punctuation most commonly associated with dialogue is the quotation mark. Quotations come with their own rules. Only the words that are spoken will appear between the quotation marks.
Dialogue in text most often comes along with a dialogue tag. Dialogue tags feature a noun representing the speaker and a verb like say or yell and attribute the text to the speaker. Where the dialogue tag occurs in the sentence will affect how the rest of the line is punctuated.
Dialogue tag at the end: A comma
comes at the end of the quote before the closing quotation mark. The dialogue tag is not capitalized and is followed by a period.
Dialogue tag at the beginning: The dialogue tag is capitalized and is followed by a comma. The quotation is also capitalized and will be followed by the ending punctuation inside the quotation marks.
Dialogue tag in the middle: The portion of the quote preceding the tag features a comma before the ending quotation mark. The dialog tag is not capitalized and is followed by a comma. The continuation of the quote is not capitalized and is followed by the ending punctuation inside the quotation marks.
Working with the resources provided by Education.com may help your students understand the unique punctuation rules associated with dialogue in text.