Tuesday, November 8, 2022

Dialogue and the comma

At CMOS Shop Talk, Carol Sallers asked, “Is a Comma Needed to Introduce Dialogue?” And she answered, “Yes, at least sometimes.”

I will happily admit that this question of punctuation has always baffled me, and I’ve done my best — and will continue to do my best — to avoid having to face it. But I’m saving the link for future reference.

Two sentences Sallers wonders about:

Kat set the painting on the windowsill, muttering “One more to go.”

Kat set the painting on the windowsill, muttering, “One more to go.”
And she concludes — rightly, I’d say — that either way is fine.

When I taught writing, I would have called the second comma in that sentence a comma of seasoning. Put it in? Fine. Leave it out? Fine. Your call. Just be sure not to skimp on the garlic.

Related reading
All OCA punctuation posts (Pinboard)

comments: 2

Chris said...

I find myself dispensing with the use of the comma after "said," but I probably would use a comma in an identical sentence after words like "answered" or "responded." I don't pretend there's any logic to that.

Michael Leddy said...

Just make sure to put in garlic. : )