Direct Speech or Quoted Speech

Introduction to Direct Speech or Quoted Speech

Direct Speech, also known as Quoted Speech, is a common grammatical construction used in both written and spoken language. This tutorial serves as a comprehensive guide to mastering this important literary device. Let's start by understanding what direct speech is.

Understanding Direct Speech

Direct speech refers to the exact wording of someone's comments or speech as it was spoken. In written text, direct speech usually appears in quotation marks or inverted commas to denote that the words were spoken or written by another person. The actual text of direct speech punctuated with a speech tag, which identifies the speaker and might provide additional context.


  • John said, "I love playing football."
  • In this example, "I love playing football," is the direct speech, and "John said," is the speech tag.

    Formatting Direct Speech

    Following are some standard rules regarding the formatting and punctuating of direct speech:

    Rule 1: Opening and Closing Quotation Marks

    Always use opening and closing quotation marks to indicate the start and end of the direct speech portion of the sentence. These could be double (“ ”) or single (‘ ’) quotation marks, depending on the convention of the media or publication.


  • "I am going home," said Maria.
  • Rule 2: Speech Tag Placement

    The location of the speech tag can change, depending on the context and the intended effect. It can either be placed before, in between, or after the direct speech.


  • She said, "I am tired."
  • "I am," he said, "very hungry."
  • "Let's go to the park," suggested Tim.
  • Rule 3: Capitalization and Punctuation

    In direct speech, every new spoken line starts with a capital letter. Also, when the speech tag is at the end of the sentence, the quoted sentence should end with a comma, question mark, or exclamation mark but not with a period.


  • John said, "Please pass the salt."
  • "Where are we going?" asked Mary.
  • "What a beautiful view!" exclaimed Susan.
  • Understanding the Speech Tag

    The speech tag typically has two parts: the noun (or noun phrase) that refers to the speaker and the reporting verb (e.g., "said", "asked", "whispered") that characterizes the mode of speech. It's also possible to add adverbial modifiers to describe the manner of speech.


  • "I can't wait to play the game," Tom said excitedly.
  • Overriding Rules in Direct Speech

    While the rules mentioned above can guide you in punctuating most direct speeches correctly, some exceptions or overriding rules can alter punctuation and capitalization. Here are some examples:

    Rule 1: Interrupted Speech

    If the speech tag interrupts the direct speech, both parts of the speech would begin with a lowercase letter, assuming they form a single sentence.


  • "I can't," she whispered, "stand to see him upset."
  • Rule 2: Consecutive Sentences

    When a character speaks consecutive sentences, start the second one with a capital letter.


  • "Please leave," she said. "I need to be alone."
  • Concluding Remarks

    Mastering direct speech or quoted speech can enhance your writing skills tremendously, helping you write compelling dialogue and effectively integrate quotes in your work. By following the guidelines set in this tutorial, you'll be well on your way to using direct speech like a pro. Happy writing!

    Practice Exercises:

  • Rewrite the following sentences with appropriate use of quoted speech:
  • Sam said that he was too tired to study.
  • Jane thought that it was a splendid idea.
  • He didn't know where she was going.
  • Use direct speech to write a conversation between two characters about their weekend plans.
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