[Grammar] RE: Speech Marks For Inner Thoughts (help?)

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RE: Speech Marks For Inner Thoughts (help?)

Hi folks,

I am a little stuck on deciding upon what would be the correct way to express a characters inner thoughts.

As far as I am aware, one should use ("...") speech marks when a conversation (or a character speaking out loud) is taking place. eg.:

“Shut it; you two,” ordered a stern voice from behind. “You’re both still under penitentiary conditions.”​

But, as is my question (please), what is the correct notation for passage when a person in thinking inwardly. eg:

“Gullible loser,” Mack thought.

'Gullible loser,' Mack thought.​

Many thanks for any kind help offered.

Paul
 
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Rover_KE

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Re: Speech Marks For Inner Thoughts (help?)

Use the same form of quotation marks for thoughts as you would for speech.
 
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Re: Speech Marks For Inner Thoughts (help?)

Hi again,

Here is an example of a character asking himself a question (in his own mind). It is in the past-tense. And I have omitted all offensive language!:

‘I don't know which is worse,’ Mack would toss around in his head during those countless nights he found himself reflecting on the events surrounding December, 1999. ‘A corrupt lawyer or a snitch like Frankie.’​

Now, should (because both phrases are within inverted commas) there be a question mark after each rhetorical-type question?:

‘I don't know which is worse?,’ Mack would toss around in his head during those countless nights he found himself reflecting on the events surrounding December, 1999. ‘A corrupt lawyer or a snitch like Frankie?’​

If so, the problem here is that Microsoft Word keeps throwing up a grammatical error in relation to the question mark being adjacent to the comma. Can you not have a question mark preceding a comma?

Many thanks,

Paul

EDIT: Another example/question from the piece I am working on:

‘Can’t the C.O. (correctional officer) give us a goddam break on the night we’re gettin’ released?,’ Mack thought.​
 
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Re: Speech Marks For Inner Thoughts (help?)

Use the same form of quotation marks for thoughts as you would for speech.

Rover,

Oh, really? OK, fair enough. I always thought it was different because the phrase was thought and not spoken.

And (as per next question) does it make a difference if it is in the past-tense, please?

Paul
 

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Re: Speech Marks For Inner Thoughts (help?)

‘I don't know which is worse,’ Mack would toss around in his head during those countless nights he found himself reflecting on the events surrounding December, 1999:a corrupt lawyer or a snitch like Frankie.’

​The above is correctly punctuated. There are no rhetorical questions there, so introducing question marks would be a mistake.

... Microsoft Word keeps throwing up a grammatical error in relation to the question mark being adjacent to the comma. Can you not have a question mark preceding a comma?
Your question should 'Can you not have a comma following a question mark?'

No.

'Which is worse: a corrupt lawyer or a snitch?' Mack would ask himself.

The verb tense makes no difference to the use of quotation marks.
 
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Re: Speech Marks For Inner Thoughts (help?)

Your question should 'Can you not have a comma following a question mark?'

No.

'Which is worse: a corrupt lawyer or a snitch?' Mack would ask himself.

The verb tense makes no difference to the use of quotation marks.

Thanks Rover,

I tried the new version (RE: question mark and adjacent comma) and MS Word did not throw up any errors.

So can you NEVER have a comma following a question mark, please? I ask because (you may or may not have noticed) I always place a comma between the final word in a spoken phrase and the closing speech mark (in the scenario where a 'he said' or 'she said' comment follows). For example:

"That's a lovely coat," Gemma said.

"Thanks very much indeed," replied Alice.​

Now, as you can see, a problem arises when the phrase within the speech marks is a question. For instance:

"Would you happen to know where Yarmouth Mills is?," asked the latest new arrival.

"Are you sure it is still open to the public?," replied the local storekeeper.​

In which case, is the question mark omitted on the grounds that it should not be placed next to the comma?

Thanks a lot,

Paul
 
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Rover_KE

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Re: Speech Marks For Inner Thoughts (help?)

Delete the commas after the question marks in both cases.

(I'm going to bed now.:sleeping:)
 
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Re: Speech Marks For Inner Thoughts (help?)

'Which is worse: a corrupt lawyer or a snitch?' Mack would ask himself.

Rover,

I am slightly confused. I thought you suggested that one should use regular quotations (RE: above) rather than inverted commas (for a characters thoughts).

Paul
 

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Re: Speech Marks For Inner Thoughts (help?)

Paul, you seem to suggesting that there's a difference between quotation marks and inverted commas. There's no difference, and they're also known as 'speech marks'.

In published material in the UK, single quotation marks are the default version, whilst the double form is the norm in the USA.

I use '...' to save myself the trouble of finding the shift key for "..." every time.
 
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Re: Speech Marks For Inner Thoughts (help?)

Rover said that you should use the same form for thoughts as for speech. He did not specify which form. Those of us using a normal keyboard will type "..." or '...'; if we can, we may type “...” . Those of us who know how may use raised/inverted commas (curly ones).

It doesn't matter which you use, so long as you are consistent.

Hi Piscean,

Yes, that's what was confusing me. I was expecting a reply of: do it this way and not the other. I understand it now though, cheers.

I am, however, not sure of what you mean by a 'normal' keyboard, please?

Thanks.
 
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Re: Speech Marks For Inner Thoughts (help?)

Paul, you seem to suggesting that there's a difference between quotation marks and inverted commas. There's no difference, and they're also known as 'speech marks'.

In published material in the UK, single quotation marks are the default version, whilst the double form is the norm in the USA.

I use '...' to save myself the trouble of finding the shift key for "..." every time.

Rover,

Correct. I thought there was a big difference between the two forms.

As you may or may not remember, I mostly read American horror fiction (King/Koontz); and so I'm used to seeing (as you point out) quotation marks. Which is why, quite recently, when scanning though a European book, I became confused when I saw only inverted commas.

So both forms are known as speech marks?

I think that, depending on which 'font' you are using, MS Word uses the curly quotation marks. I seem to remember seeing them appear and thinking that they looked a bit too fancy for my liking - and so I switched to a different 'font'.

I am going to use "..." throughout my work. It's what I am used to seeing.

Thanks,

Paul
 
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