Results 1 to 7 of 7
  1. englishhobby's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Russian
      • Home Country:
      • Russian Federation
      • Current Location:
      • Russian Federation

    • Join Date: Jun 2009
    • Posts: 1,678
    #1

    Do we need a colon before the direct speech?

    I read on some websites that if the direct speech is longer than six words, we'd better use a colon, not a comma, before it. Is it so? Is there a mistake in punctuating the following sentence?

    The hare said to the tortoise, "You are so slow that I will beat you very easily. In fact, I feel sorry for you because you are so slow. I know I will defeat you!"
    Last edited by englishhobby; 26-Aug-2014 at 10:28.
    If I were a native speaker of English, I would never shut up. :-)

  2. emsr2d2's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • UK

    • Join Date: Jul 2009
    • Posts: 41,814
    #2

    Re: Do we need a colon bnefore the direct speech?

    Where did you read that very strange rule? It's completely wrong. Colons are used in screenplays (I think) but never in standard writing. It's a comma - every time.
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

  3. englishhobby's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • Russian
      • Home Country:
      • Russian Federation
      • Current Location:
      • Russian Federation

    • Join Date: Jun 2009
    • Posts: 1,678
    #3

    Re: Do we need a colon bnefore the direct speech?

    From here or a similar website:
    http://www.vappingo.com/word-blog/co...otation-marks/

    Is this information wrong?
    If I were a native speaker of English, I would never shut up. :-)

  4. emsr2d2's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • UK

    • Join Date: Jul 2009
    • Posts: 41,814
    #4

    Re: Do we need a colon bnefore the direct speech?

    I didn't go as far as their punctuation "cheat sheet" but, in my opinion, the information given about the difference between a comma and a colon is nonsense. I have never heard anyone suggest that it's based on the number of words in the direct quote.
    Remember - if you don't use correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing, anything you write will be incorrect.

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • American English
      • Home Country:
      • Canada
      • Current Location:
      • Canada

    • Join Date: Aug 2014
    • Posts: 42
    #5

    Re: Do we need a colon bnefore the direct speech?

    I see no need for a colon or comma before quoted speech.

    The only thing she said was "Don't ask me. I know nothing about it."

    p.s. Somewhat related to this, I am not convinced that commas and pauses have a definite relationship. Commas mainly have other functions.
    Last edited by canadian45; 26-Aug-2014 at 01:09.

    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • Laos

    • Join Date: Nov 2002
    • Posts: 57,815
    #6

    Re: Do we need a colon before the direct speech?

    Quote Originally Posted by englishhobby View Post
    I read on some websites that if the direct speech is longer than six words, we'd better use a colon, not a comma, before it.
    I have been a native speaker of British English for half a century without ever coming across this rule.

  5. Charlie Bernstein's Avatar
    • Member Info
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • United States
      • Current Location:
      • United States

    • Join Date: Jan 2009
    • Posts: 3,555
    #7

    Re: Do we need a colon before the direct speech?

    Yep, it's just wrong. The writer should have stopped at "In truth, it doesn't really matter." Online information is often wrong. Not all website writers know what they're talking about.

    As you can see, different people have different opinions. And different situations call for different approaches. Irish writing usually doesn't use quotes at all. It uses a long dash in front and nothing in back. In nonfiction, long quotes have no quotation marks and are indented and separated with spaces before and after the quote.

    It's true that sometimes neither a comma or colon is needed. There's a difference between The next thing she said was "Stop it!" and Next, she said, "Stop it!" In the first, "Stop it!" is the sentence's object and should not have a comma. In the second, it's a dependent clause and should.

    Colons are never needed, but sometimes writers use them for emphasis.

    In fairness, I did once read an odd rule (different from yours) on when to use commas and colons. But I've never seen anything in actual writing to support it, so I think our rule writers are sometimes just tripping.

Similar Threads

  1. Replies: 9
    Last Post: 30-Mar-2014, 21:17
  2. [Grammar] direct speech - indirect speech
    By Vu Hien in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 17-Feb-2009, 01:21
  3. Reported speech and Direct speech?
    By easygoing in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 08-Nov-2008, 20:58
  4. Direct speech & Indirect speech
    By vv0510_vn in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 7
    Last Post: 20-Sep-2007, 12:14
  5. direct speech / Indirect speech
    By user_gary in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 03-Jun-2007, 15:18

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •