Punctuating Speech Correctly



Many students find it difficult to punctuate speech properly and in general I would avoid including direct speech in your creative essays because this is hard to do. However, here are a few simple rules for you to follow if you really do want to include speech in your essay:


  1. Use double speech marks because we tend to reserve single speech marks for quotations when we are writing essays,
  2. If a new character starts speaking you usually start a new line,
  3. The spoken words always start with a capital letter, even if they are in the middle of a sentence,
  4. If there is a phrase before the speech there will need to be a comma before the opening speech marks.

For example: James said, I dont love you.

Erika replied, I dont understand.


  1. Note that if the speech comes at the end of the sentence then you dont need another full stop after the speech marks,
  2. There will also need to be some kind of punctuation at the end of the speech. This could be a comma, full stop, exclamation mark or question mark but whatever it is, if there is a phrase after the direct speech then it will not start with a capital letter.

For example: I dont understand, replied Erika.

I hate you! screamed James.

Why are you being so horrible? cried Erika.


  1. Sometimes the speech is split up and you will need to use commas to separate out each part of the speech from the rest of the sentence.

For example: I think, Erika whispered bitterly, that youre a horrible person.