How to punctuate direct speech
To punctuate direct speech, follow these simple rules:
Start a new line for each new speaker. This helps the reader to keep track of who is speaking.
Add a pair of inverted commas around the words spoken by the character. The first pair of inverted commas should go before the first spoken word and the second pair should go after the punctuation which follows the last spoken word.
Begin the spoken words with a capital letter.
Add closing punctuation to follow the last spoken word. This could be a comma, full stop, exclamation mark, question mark or even an ellipsis if the character's thoughts trail off.
Use a comma to separate the direct speech and reporting clause.
Our KS2 English Journey scheme based on the beautifully illustrated book by Aaron Becker, is a fantastic way to introduce children to direct speech punctuation.
Children tend to find rules three and four the most difficult so make sure you explicitly teach the following:
a. If the reporting clause comes before the spoken words , add a comma to separate the clause from the direct speech and a full stop within the inverted commas to indicate the end of the sentence. For example, Isa suggested, "Let's get a closer look."
b. If the reporting clause comes after the direct speech, add a comma (or other appropriate punctuation) within the inverted commas to indicate that the sentence continues and a full stop after the reporting clause to indicate the end of the sentence. For example, "Let's get a closer look," Isa suggested.
c. If the reporting clause comes in the middle of the direct speech, add a comma within the inverted commas for the first piece of speech, a comma after the reporting clause before the second piece of speech and a full stop following the reporting clause to indicate the end of the sentence. For example, "Let's get a closer look," Isa suggested, "I want to know where the tunnel leads."