Punctuation of speech – reported and direct speech is a topic that is commonly tested in 11 plus exams.
Direct speech uses the exact words that are said. Direct speech is punctuated by using speech marks and correctly separated from the rest of the sentence.
Reported speech (otherwise known as indirect speech) reports what somebody has said. Reported speech does not use speech marks and, because it reports on something in the past, the tense changes to the past tense.
Direct speech: Toby asked, ” Would you like to join us when we visit the zoo? “
Note the first letter in the speech is capitalised and there is a question mark before the last speech marks. All end of sentence punctuation is placed inside the speech marks. A comma after Toby asked, separates the direct speech from the other words.
Direct speech: ” I can’t see very well, “ Sadie said, ” as I left my glasses at home. “
Note that this sentence has been interrupted by she said and two sets of speech marks have been used. There is no need for a capital letter for as because the sentence continues here. A comma is needed after well, to separate it from the Sadie said. Another comma is needed after Sadie said to separate this from the rest of the direct speech.
Reported speech: Toby asked if we would like to join them when they visited the zoo.
Note that the reported speech is in the past tense visited. There are no speech marks used and this is one complete sentence.
Reported speech: Sadie said that she couldn’t see very well as she had left her glasses at home.
Note that the reported speech is in the past tense couldn’t. There are no speech marks used and this is one complete sentence.
Direct speech using speech marks
Direct speech and reported speech.